James Hansen: Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them

The Observer, Sunday 15th February: A year ago, I wrote to Gordon Brown asking him to place a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants in Britain. I have asked the same of Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, Kevin Rudd and other leaders. The reason is this – coal is the single greatest threat to civilisation and … Continue reading James Hansen: Coal-fired power stations are death factories. Close them

Nasa climate expert makes personal appeal to Obama

obama_hansen4The Guardian, 2nd January 2008
One of the world’s top climate scientists has written a personal new year appeal to Barack and Michelle Obama, warning of the “profound disconnect” between public policy on climate change and the magnitude of the problem.

With less than three weeks to go until Obama’s inauguration, Professor James Hansen, who heads Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, asked the recently appointed White House science adviser Professor John Holdren to pass the missive directly to the president-elect.

In it, he praises Obama’s campaign rhetoric about “a planet in peril”, but says that how the new president acts in office will be crucial. Hansen lambasts the current international approach of setting targets through “cap and trade” schemes as not up to the task. “This approach is ineffectual and not commensurate with the climate threat. It could waste another decade, locking in disastrous consequences for our planet and humanity,” the letter from Hansen and his wife, Anniek, reads.

The letter will make uncomfortable reading for officials in 10 US states whose cap and trade mechanism – the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – got under way yesterday. The scheme is the first mandatory, market-based greenhouse gas reduction programme in the US.

Hansen advocates a three-pronged attack on the climate problem.

Continue reading “Nasa climate expert makes personal appeal to Obama”

Guest Opinion: Global Warming Twenty Years Later

James Hansen on June 23, 2008

Tipping Points Near

Today, I will testify to Congress about global warming, 20 years after my June 23, 1988 testimony, which alerted the public that global warming was under way. There are striking similarities between then and now, but one big difference.

Again a wide gap has developed between what is understood about global warming by the relevant scientific community and what is known by policymakers and the public. Now, as then, frank assessment of scientific data yields conclusions that are shocking to the body politic. Now, as then, I can assert that these conclusions have a certainty exceeding 99 percent.

The difference is that now we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb. The next President and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation.

Otherwise, it will become impractical to constrain atmospheric carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas produced in burning fossil fuels, to a level that prevents the climate system from passing tipping points that lead to disastrous climate changes that spiral dynamically out of humanity’s control. Continue reading “Guest Opinion: Global Warming Twenty Years Later”