Tuesday, June 23, 2009

NASA climate-change scientist agrees to debate Massey Energy chief after W.Va. protest this week

UPDATE, June 24: The debate appears unlikely to happen, as the adversaries can't agree on a time and place. For details and a report on the protest, click here. For Ken Ward's thoughtful reflections on the protest and the issue of mountaintop-removal strip mining of coal, click here.

James Hansen of NASA, perhaps the most prominent scientist on a crusade to slow global warming, the economy, has accepted a challenge from Massey Energy Co. President Don Blankenship to debate the issue and the role the coal industry does or doesn't play.

In a letter to to Ken Ward Jr. of The Charleston Gazette, Hansen commended Blankenship for taking an active role in discussing climate change, global warming and the coal industry -- primarily mountaintop-removal mining. Hansen is in West Virginia this week for a protest at a Massey site and offered to stay for a debate if Blankenship could secure a location. (Read the whole letter here)

Simultaenously, Hansen released a new commentary on Yale’s Environment 360 blog called “A Plea to President Obama: End Mountaintop Removal.” Among other things, he describes coal as the linchpin in mitigating global warming and criticizes the Obama administration for seeking renewable energy policies while supporting mountaintop removal -- "an undeniably catastrophic way of mining" that has "buried more than 800 miles of Appalachian streams in mining debris and by 2012 will have serious damaged or destroyed an area larger than Delaware." (Read more)

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