“After Al Gore, James Hansen is probably the man climate skeptics most love to hate” Hate? Nah. Mock? Heck yeah, the old codger’s been fudging the temperature data for decades and really seems to have slipped off his trolly with talk of coal “death trains” and completely synthetic “climate crises”
Unlike Gore, Hansen is an actual scientist, at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York (it’s located above the restaurant that used to be featured in Seinfeld). It was Hansen who single-handedly put climate change on the national radar when he testified before Gore’s committee in 1988 during a killer heat wave, saying “. . . the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.”
Nearly a quarter of a century later, Hansen is more deeply immersed in the issue of climate change than ever. He’s still writing scientific papers — a new one, titled “Public Perception of Climate Change and the New Climate Dice,” which argues that the notable recent increase in climate extremes is no accident, has been submitted to Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
He’s also come out of the ivory tower to join protests against coal-fired power plants (he was arrested outside the White House) and the Keystone XL pipeline (another arrest, same place). And he’s speaking out wherever and whenever he can about the dangers of climate change, along with our responsibility to do something about it — in a recent TED talk, for example, and in an even more recent interview with The Guardian, in which he declared that human climate change is a “great moral issue” on a par with slavery — an “injustice of one generation to others.”
It was Hansen’s 2008 paper suggesting 350 parts per million (ppm) of CO2 in the air as the level we should aim for that launched the activist organization 350.org (we’re already approaching 400 ppm, with no appreciable emissions slowdown).