On James Hansen

James Hansen
James Hansen

IOWA CITY— It’s hard to believe, but a lot of people don’t know who is James Hansen of Denison. He is a retired NASA scientist who took the first sentence of NASA’s mission statement, “to understand and protect the home planet,” to heart and explored the science of climate change. That is, it was the first sentence of the NASA mission statement until the George W. Bush administration removed it.

Hansen’s concern about the kind of world he will leave his grandchildren led him to continue to speak out about the need to mitigate increasing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere— the cause of global warming.

I met Hansen on Jan. 27, 2008 in Iowa City, and his message hasn’t changed much, except maybe to express increased urgency about the need to mitigate rising temperatures related to burning fossil fuels before it is too late.

If readers don’t know about James Hansen, they should. Check out his brief bio at the Columbia University website here. In this 17 minute TED talk, from February 2012,, Hansen presents, in easy to understand terms, the science of global warming and the urgent need to do something about it.

There is no debate about global warming. The debate is over what to do about it. According to Hansen, we should stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry and implement a carbon tax. We should do it now.