Yesterday, on the 20th anniversary of his ground-breaking first testimony to Congress on the perils of global warming, Dr. James Hansen, esteemed head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, provided Congress an update.
The verdict: 20 years later, the evidence suggests that his warnings of 1988 were, if anything, understated, and that climate change may be fast approaching a "tipping point" where massive disruption becomes inevitable. In his view, only vigorous action to bring atmospheric CO2 levels below 350 parts per million (ppm) can stave off serious consequences (current levels are 385 ppm, and rising approximately 2 ppm per year.)
Dr. Hansen's 1988 Congressional testimony brought into the public discourse the subject of climate change due to greenhouse gases released in the burning of fossil fuels. Hansen has been a clear and steady voice publicizing the findings of climate scientists around the world, and a tireless advocate for a greener future. Vilified by climate-deniers, he was subjected to censorship by the Bush II administration, which required all of his public statements be run past the NASA public relations staff, who edited many of these statements to soft-pedal suggestions that climate change was man-made and potentially risky. Dr. Hansen refused to be muzzled, and his whistle-blowing on the Bush II administration's attempts to censor climate science led to a public outcry against political interference with science.
Yesterday's testimony before Congress was a typical blend of impeccable science, blunt warnings, and outspoken advocacy for change to save the planet for our children and grandchildren.
You can read his testimony here:
His associated slide presentation is here:
Together, these serve as a handy summary of the science, the issues, and many of the major proposals for ameliorating global warming.
A quick summary of Dr. Hansen's life and career can be found here:
Read, and be enlightened - and, hopefully, inspired to action.