James Hansen, who was a NASA climate scientist when he first warned the world that the planet was heating in 1988, is back with another stark warning — this time hoping for different results.
When Hansen appeared before the United States Senate in June of 1988, the world had just experienced the warmest first five months of any year in recorded history, The New York Times reported at the time.
Up until that time, scientists had been cautious about blaming the warming of the planet on pollutants put into the air by human activity. But Hansen told the committee that NASA was 99% certain that the warming trend was caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere.
Sadly, the problem has continuously gotten worse worldwide in the decades since. And Hansen has continued his fight to bring attention to the issue. In 2011, he was one of 140 people to be arrested while protesting the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.
In a recent statement released by Hansen alongside two other scientists, Hansen predicted the warming of the planet to accelerate in the coming years, musing about a “new climate frontier.”
“There’s a lot more in the pipeline, unless we reduce the greenhouse gas amounts,” Hansen told the Guardian. “These superstorms are a taste of the storms of my grandchildren. We are headed wittingly into the new reality — we knew it was coming.”
Speaking of the heat waves that have ravaged much of the Northern Hemisphere recently, Hansen told the Guardian he cannot help but feel “a sense of disappointment that we scientists did not communicate more clearly and that we did not elect leaders capable of a more intelligent response.”
Of the lack of response by humanity as a whole, Hansen added, “It means we are damned fools. We have to taste it to believe it.”
Though it’s been 35 years since Hansen first warned the world in Senate testimony about what we’re now seeing with our own eyes, there is reason for optimism.
The move away from dirty energy is kicking into high gear. Sales of electric cars continue to rise, with an expected growth of 35% from 2022 to 2023, electric boats with solar-powered charging stations are now available, and grassroots efforts to make renewable energy more widely available are underway.
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