James Hansen

James
Hansen
1941

American Climatologist, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University

Author Quotes

The climate science is crystal clear. We cannot go down the path of the dirty fuels without guaranteeing that the climate system passes tipping points, leaving our children and grandchildren a situation out of their control, a situation of our making. Unstable ice sheets will lead to continually rising seas and devastation of coastal cities worldwide. A large fraction of Earth's species will be driven to extinction by the combination of shifting climate zones and other stresses. Summer heat waves, scorching droughts, and intense wildfires will become more frequent and extreme. At other times and places, the warmer water bodies and increased evaporation will power stronger storms, heavier rains, greater floods.

What makes tar sands particularly odious is that the energy you get out in the end, per unit carbon dioxide, is poor. It's equivalent to burning coal in your automobile.

The democratic process is supposed to be one person one vote, but it turns out that money is talking louder than the votes.

What we are doing to the future of our children, and the other species on the planet, is a clear moral issue.

The economics is crystal clear. We are all better off if fossil fuels are made to pay their honest costs to society. We must collect a gradually rising fee from fossil fuel companies at the source, the domestic mine or port of entry, distributing the funds to the public on a per capita basis. This approach will provide the business community and entrepreneurs the incentives to develop clean energy and energy-efficient products, and the public will have the resources to make changes.

When I testified before the Senate in the hot summer of 1988 , I warned of the kind of future that climate change would bring to us and our planet. I painted a grim picture of the consequences of steadily increasing temperatures, driven by mankind?s use of fossil fuels. But I have a confession to make: I was too optimistic. My projections about increasing global temperature have been proved true. But I failed to fully explore how quickly that average rise would drive an increase in extreme weather. In a new analysis of the past six decades of global temperatures, which will be published Monday, my colleagues and I have revealed a stunning increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers, with deeply troubling ramifications for not only our future but also for our present. This is not a climate model or a prediction but actual observations of weather events and temperatures that have happened. Our analysis shows that it is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.

The evidence for human-made climate change is overwhelming.

With a fourth generation of nuclear power, you can have a technology that will burn more than 99 percent of the energy in the fuel. It would mean that you don't need to mine uranium for the next thousand years.

The fact is fossil fuel carbon will stay in the surface climate system for millennia.

You can't tie a rope around the ice sheet. You can't build a wall around the ice sheets.

The five warmest years over the last century occurred in the last eight years.

You can't turn on your television without seeing these advertisements about clean coal, clean tar sands and the claim that there's more jobs associated with fossil fuels than other industries. That's of course not true. But they're hammering that into the voters' heads.

The Oceans will begin to boil?

You have no time to do the science if you're talking to the media.

The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.

The United States did not sign Kyoto, yet its emissions are not that different from the countries that did sign it.

Tipping points are so dangerous because if you pass them, the climate is out of humanity's control: if an ice sheet disintegrates and starts to slide into the ocean there's nothing we can do about that.

Until the public demands otherwise, the policy makers will continue to serve their financiers.

Recent warming coincides with rapid growth of human-made greenhouse gases. The observed rapid warming gives urgency to discussions about how to slow greenhouse gas emissions.

We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life.

Scientists will say we can't blame global warming for any single event. In a sense that's right, but the fact that the frequency and intensity of these events is increasing you can blame on global warming.

We need to send a message to Congress and the president that we want them to take the actions that are needed to preserve climate for young people and future generations and all life on the planet.

Several times in Earth's history, rapid global warming occurred, apparently spurred by amplifying feedbacks. In each case, more than half of plant and animal species became extinct. New species came into being over tens and hundreds of thousands of years. But these are time scales and generations that we cannot imagine.

We stand at a fork in the road. Conventional oil and gas supplies are limited. We can move down the path of dirtier more carbon-intensive unconventional fossil-fuels, digging up the dirtiest tar sands and tar shales, hydrofracking for gas, continued mountain-top removal and mechanized destructive long-wall coal mining. Or we can choose the alternative path of clean energies and energy efficiency.

Some Democrats deserve to be criticized.

Author Picture
First Name
James
Last Name
Hansen
Birth Date
1941
Bio

American Climatologist, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University