2O years later, NASA’S Hansen returns, warns Congress +2C = global disaster NOT salvation


On June 23rd 1988, NASA‘s James Hansen was the first leading scientist to warn of the dangers of global warming before a U.S. Congressional committee. On June 23rd 2008, he returned to warn that the Earth’s climate is nearing dangerous tipping points, to call for a national carbon tax and to declare that the CEO’s of energy companies should be tried for crimes against humanity and nature.

Three of his most alarming statements:

“We have reached a point of planetary emergency…”

“…climate is nearing dangerous tipping points. Elements of a “perfect storm”, a global cataclysm, are assembled…”

“…the oft-stated goal to keep global warming less than +2 C (+3.6 Fahrenheit) is a recipe for global disaster, not salvation.”

Our take on Hansen:

His conservative, congenial disposition comes across as counter to the urgency of the global emergency and social injustices posed by the devastating impacts of climate change that are being suffered by the people of the most impoverished nations RIGHT NOW, let alone the rapidly approaching future “global cataclysm” he warns of.

Never-the-less, Hansen has bravely led the scientific call to action for two often lonely decades, and has done so despite the considerable efforts of the Bush administration to censor and discredit him and fossil fuel industry-funded misinformation campaigns designed to deceive and betray the general public.

The real danger limit is NOW: For the last two years, politicians and environmental organizations have been saying we must avoid a +2 C tipping point. The problem is, this has always been a political ‘target’, never a scientific one.

The first proposed U.N. safe limit was +1 C in 1990, when targets were first considered, but the fossil fuel industry sold the world on the +2 C tipping point and has suckered us into delaying action all these years.

There will soon be no northern ice cap in the summer. Carbon feedback has been recorded from Alaska, Northern Sweden and Siberia. Methane hydrates are emitting off the Siberian shelf and carbon sink failure (the inability to absorb carbon due to full capacity) is occurring in two oceans.

The true danger limit is not +2 C. It is, in fact, less than +0.78 C, the present average global temperature increase to date and we’ve got to do something about it – FAST!

New York Times Hansen video interview by Andrew Revkin:



Full 2008 congressional speech (4 pages)
PowerPoint (all 44 slides in thumbnail view)

PowerPoint (one slide per page, 44 pages)

Dr. James Hansen’s personal post on The Huffington Post after his presentation to Congress – 20 years later: tipping points near on global warming

Guardian audio – ‘We had better get something done next year, or else’
Guardian article – Put oil firm chiefs on trial, says leading climate change scientist

Toronto Star, Tim Harper – Earth near tipping point, climatologist warns

Guardian, George Monbiot – Big oil’s big lie

Special thanks for original contributions from ecoSanity.org Kindred Defender, Dr. Peter D. Carter, and for information received in an email from Carbon Equity, www.carbonequity.info.

Read more about ‘the case for emergency action’ in the new book, Climate Code Red.


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