Any speech by NASA’s James Hansen deserves attention. His remarks “On Acceptance of WWF Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal” are no exception.
Two features are especially noteworthy. First, Hansen includes his slides, so you can understand what he’s saying very clearly. Second, he speaks with increasing poignancy about what we are doing to this planet:
It is an uncomfortable inconvenient scientific truth: we cannot pour into the atmosphere all of the fossil fuels that were buried in the ground over millions of years without creating a different planet, without destroying creation, without being miserable failures in our stewardship of the planet we were blessed with.
When a fossil fuel company refuses to become an energy company and bamboozles the public with advertisements such as “you call CO2 pollution, we call it life”, it is time to stop patronizing that company. When a politician accepts money from fossil fuel interests and then describes global warming as “a great hoax”, it is time to draw attention to that and help vote him out. When our government stands on the side of polluters in court and connives with industries to continue pollution, characterizing it as a “clear skies” policy, it is time to help draw attention to the truth. In this era of the internet and instant global communication, young people may be capable of finding ways to galvanize stewardship for our planet that has so far been lacking.
Finally, I emphasize that the changes needed do not require hardship or reduction in the quality of life. Quite the contrary. They will result in a cleaner environment, healthier air and cleaner water, good-paying jobs in high-tech industries in our own countries, certainly better than mining coal, although coal may continue as one source of energy. The only losers will be those special interests who do not adapt, who prefer to spread misinformation and buy off politicians, to the detriment of life on Earth. We must be on the lookout for them and point them out for what they are.
Of course, although I am a government employee, these are just my opinions as a private citizen. They do not represent government policy. Thank you.
These are far more than “just my opinions as a private citizen.” They are the urgent and reasoned words of the country’s leading climate scientist. We ignore them at our peril.