James Hansen Rants on Obama, and E.O. Wilson Gets Reviewed in the NY Times

So I liked the review in the NY Times this weekend of E.O. Wilson’s The Social Conquest of Earth, which I’m still reading (it’s long), which is here. One thing I’ll note: Although I knew about and recognized his argument for the Group selection over Kin selection argument as the key driving force in evolution, and especially the evolution of eusocial creatures (ants & humans are his main focus), I don’t think that distinction dominates the book. To a laymen, such as myself, it also seems to be splitting hairs a bit: Kin or family units are clustered together in Groups. But I do understand how the distinction becomes important in the span of time, or the big picture.
Also in the NY Times last week was James Hansen’s op-ed about Climate Change and the tar sands issue (the Keystone XL Pipeline debate is in the background of what he’s writing about), although I think he dismisses the enormous political challenges too easily. He takes Obama to task for saying that the Canadians are going to do what they want to do, which seems to me both realistic and pragmatic: The U.S. can’t tell Canada what to do. We might put some pressure on them to do the right thing, but considering the vast amount of money to be made in the tar sands oil business, that pressure will probably be resented, resisted, and dismissed. At times Hansen seems to want Obama to put on a SuperPresident cape and fly about changing the world. That said, I agree he should do more. But could he get the Canadians to halt production of tar sands oil? I doubt it. I’ve blogged about Hansens’ book Storms of My Grandchildren (2009), much of which is about his struggles with the nitwits of the Bush administration. Obviously he’s played a key role in Climate Change information dissemination and research. I also think at this point he’s frustrated. As all of us should be.

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