Activism photo credit: UNclimatechange (some rights reserved)

Published on April 4th, 2013 | by Cynthia Shahan


Dr. James Hansen Retires From 46-Year Career At NASA’a Goddard Institute Of Space Studies

Dr. James E. Hansen has announced his retirement as head of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, where he began his career in 1967. He plans to engage more actively in politics around the issue of climate change, continuing his work as the most educated pioneer of scientific climate change research.

Dr. Hansen, now 72 years old, began testifying in congress regarding climate challenges the planet is facing (determined through his research and that of his colleagues) in 1988. Bill McKibben equates him as the patron saint of “It was Jim’s 2008 paper that gave us our name, identifying 350 parts per million CO2 as the safe upper limit for carbon in the atmosphere.”

photo credit: UNclimatechange (some rights reserved)

Image Credit: UNclimatechange (some rights reserved)

“As much as for his science, we respect him for his courage.” Thoughtful Fearless Integration of Science, NASA (Government), and Activism

Some people just become stronger as they age. It is as if wisdom transforms into their work and being, as if experience unfolds and multiples their inner strength. Bill McKibben continues: “He’s always been willing to speak the truth bluntly, from the day in 1988 when he told Congress that the time had come ‘to stop waffling so much and say the planet was warming,’ to all he has done to bring attention to damaging projects like Keystone XL – even to the point of risking arrest to do so. I have no doubt he will go on doing science, and speaking plainly — indeed, he told the New York Times that one reason he is leaving the federal payroll is so he can take on the government more directly.”

“Again and again, Dr. Hansen made predictions that were ahead of the rest of the scientific community …”

Hansen thoughtfully used his unique ability to straddle and integrate his daily work (science), governmental duty, and activism, becoming the best-known public figure of federally sponsored climate research. He stood up intelligently to pressure from the White House.

“From that perch, seven floors above the diner made famous by ‘Seinfeld,’ Dr. Hansen battled the White House, testified dozens of times in Congress, commanded some of the world’s most powerful computers and pleaded with ordinary citizens to grasp the basics of a complex science.”

He is directly honest. In 2005, he shared with the public the pressure he felt by the Bush administration’s effort to control and suppress information to the public from him.

Some people feel that inherent intuitive ability to tap into a quantum stream of consciousness or body of knowledge that is hovering in the multidimensional planes of life. Einstein had this ability. Hansen has it. As noted in Justin Gilllis’ article in the New York Times that broke the story of Hansen’s retirement, “Again and again, Dr. Hansen made predictions that were ahead of the rest of the scientific community and, arguably, a bit ahead of the evidence. Hansen’s colleagues value him, ‘Jim has a real track record of being right before you can actually prove he is right with statistics,’ said Raymond T. Pierrehumbert, a planetary scientist at the University of Chicago.”

Image Credit: laurigorham some rights reserved

Image Credit: laurigorham some rights reserved

Hansen’s Future

His focus only becomes more streamlined and he sheds light on his decision, “‘As a government employee, you cannot testify against the government,’ he said in an interview.” Now, he will be able to.

He echoes Mark Kitchell, director of Fierce Green Fire, or Kitchell echoed him as Kitchell introduced his film nationwide not long ago:

“Dr. Hansen says he senses the beginnings of a mass movement on climate change, led by young people. Once he finishes his final papers as a NASA employee, he intends to give it his full support.”

“At my age,” he said, “I am not worried about having an arrest record.” This is, in fact, a part of his experience as well as the intention. He was arrested for the first time in 2009 as part of a coal protest. He was cited again for sleeping overnight in a tent on the Boston Common with others, largely students pressuring Massachusetts into passing climate legislation.

Along with his increased time with activism, he will continue his scientific work. “Initially, Dr. Hansen plans to work out of a converted barn on his farm in Pennsylvania. He has not ruled out setting up a small institute or taking an academic appointment.”

“At the same time, retirement will allow Dr. Hansen to press his cause in court. He plans to take a more active role in lawsuits challenging the federal and state governments over their failure to limit emissions, for instance, as well as in fighting the development in Canada of a particularly dirty form of oil extracted from tar sands.

Thank You, Dr. Hansen!

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is an Organic Farmer, Classical Homeopath, Art Teacher, Creative Writer, Anthropologist, Natural Medicine Activist, Journalist, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

  • TerryWelander

    I have reviewed 4 of Dr. James Hansens documents on black carbon, two in 2002, one in 2003, and one in 2004; listed in Dr. Hansen’s Wikipedia bibliography. All focus on the microscopic interactions of black carbon with other molecules without addressing what is actually going on in the atmosphere overall by heat transfer and the resulting temperature changes.

    Specifically, with convection and winds being continuous on planet earth, microscopic interactions have almost no relevance on the heat input from the sun, volcanic emissions, and underwater volcanic rift emissions, the three principal sources of heat or lack, and temperature increases or decreases.

    Or, the over all heat transfer on earth is based on the amount of sunlight reaching earth’s surface, additions from earth’s core, and release of heat to outer space from earth’s open atmosphere.

    None of Dr. Hansen’s documents address the fundamentals of global heat transfer by convection and the winds; the over riding considerations whether the atmosphere is heating or cooling.

    Anyone who can get Dr. Hansen to address these real and over riding atmospheric considerations would be a priceless addition to reality.

    The total volcanic activity on the planet is 99% of the pollution problem.

    All of humanities emissions are less than 1% of earth’s pollution.

    Black carbon in the atmosphere is somewhere between 9 and 12 orders of magnitude less than the total volcanic emissions on earth.

    No one in the history of humanity has printed such irrelevant truth
    on black carbon effects in and on the atmosphere compared to sunlight, volcanic emissions and underwater volcanic rift emissions.

    Worse, with winds and convection, no individual microscopic atmospheric event such as black carbon has any chance of altering or changing the global heat loss rate of earth to outer space; what matters in earth heat changes and thus temperature changes.

    It is way too long over due for responsible and rational people to stand up to such irrelevancies as black carbon in the atmosphere; compared to the hugely controlling and over riding global heat transfers to space and what actually causes temperature changes on earth.

    • Zachary Shahan

      4 papers? The man has published dozens or hundreds of papers over decades of service.

      • TerryWelander

        The papers that matter on the atmosphere are the papers on carbon. These four in particular seem to be representative and point out Dr. Hansen has never addressed the overall heat transfer on Earth.

        Specifically, the atmosphere is 78% Nitrogen, 20% Oxygen, slightly less than 2% water vapor, with the balance being all the other miscellaneous including carbon dioxide at 400 parts per million.

        Only the 78% Nitrogen is operative with the 20% Oxygen in heat transfer to and from the planet setting the global temperature and changes.

        Carbon dioxide and all other gases other than Nitrogen and Oxygen are too small to matter in atmospheric heat transfer and atmospheric temperature.

        Common sense and reality matter more than anything.

        And no one, especially his peers appear to have challenged Dr. Hansen on his unwritten outrageous assumptions ignoring the 98% of the atmosphere of Nitrogen and Oxygen as the over riding and primary heat transfer mediums that set global temperature and global temperature change.

        I pass this on to you as a heads up and an eye opener.

        No doubt there will be more to come on real world considerations instead of irrelevant microscopic examinations of parts per million atmospheric carbon and carbon gases.

        • Zachary Shahan

          Sorry, this doesn’t qualify as an eye-opener at all. I’ve listened to armchair skeptics and deniers for years. ;)

          • TerryWelander

            We have never met. So name calling armchair skeptics and deniers is probably libel. Why would you want to go around libeling anyone?
            It could get you into serious trouble.

            I will say the many accomplishments of Dr. Hansen are extraordinary.

            No one has a perfect record. Dr. Hansen is no exception. Nitrogen and Oxygen are 98% of the atmosphere and the overwhelming and primary heat transfer and temperature setting gases in the atmosphere.

            Dr. Hansens’s fixation on carbon dioxide at 400 parts per million in the atmosphere is irrelevant in any and all atmospheric heat transfer and temperatures based on my 65th edition of the Handbook of Physics and Chemistry.

            Keep it real, whatever you do. Dr. Hansen has completely missed reality on heat transfer and temperature in the atmosphere.

            Based on his many accomplishments, I am certain no one is faulting him for it. At least
            not yet if real corrections are not made.

            Terry D. Welander

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