American Meteorological Society gives James Hansen its top honor

[I’d be happy to forward to Hansen any comments people have on his quarter-century-long effort to inform the public and policymakers of the grave dangers we face on our current greenhouse gas emissions path — in the face of withering attacks by the right-wing deniers and the attempted muzzling by the Bush administration.]


The American Meteorological Society awarded the country’s top climate scientist its highest honor, the 2009 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal:

For outstanding contributions to climate modeling, understanding climate change forcings and sensitivity, and for clear communication of climate science in the public arena.

Hansen is the longtime director of the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS). NASA also announced:

In a separate announcement on Dec. 30, Hansen was also named by EarthSky Communications and a panel of 600 scientist-advisors as the Scientist Communicator of the Year. Peers cited Hansen as an “outspoken authority on climate change” who had “best communicated with the public about vital science issues or concepts during 2008.”

Kudos to Hansen for these well-deserved awards. I, for one, wouldn’t have started this blog if it weren’t for him. Below is a Hansen primary, for those who want an introduction to the work of this seminal figure in American science:


23 Responses to American Meteorological Society gives James Hansen its top honor

  1. Dano says:

    Please tell James to keep up the good work and don’t compromise.



  2. My comment:

    Sir… your strength of character, integrity, and tirelessness inspire me! Well done!

  3. Peter Sinclair says:

    fighting back in the spirit of James Hansen

    The Climate Denial Crock of the Week

  4. simp says:

    Thank you Dr. Hansen for publishing papers that are understandable for all of us.
    Your talks are really inspiring.
    Maybe you could use YouTube more to communicate with the public?
    Thank you for giving evidence in the Kingsnorth trial!!
    Young person from Austria

  5. Jim Eaton says:

    It takes a very brave person to stand up and speak the truth when assailed by such continuous vicious criticism and hate. I thank you, and all our fellow critters on Earth thank you as well.


  6. paulm says:

    Hansen has done just about all he can do apart from sitting in front of the White House and setting himself on fire!

  7. DavidONE says:

    “If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants.”

  8. A truly long-viewed scientist. His support for nuclear energy has helped redefine the energy issue as one of “Clean Energy/Non-Carbon Energy”. Thanks again,

    David Walters

  9. Will Koroluk says:

    It may be a long time before the world truly understands the debt we owe to Dr. Hansen. When we finally do, it would be nice to see him receive a special Nobel award.

  10. Brewster says:

    Peter Sinclair;

    Thanks for the link – I can think of several uses of short clips like that – the videos hit harder than plain words – they shouldn’t but they do.

  11. john says:

    I recall your testimony in the summer of 1988. It was an act of courage; one you’ve repeated in a thousand ways since. Thank you, Dr. Hansen.

  12. Baerbel W. says:

    Thanks for not caving in under the pressure put on you during the events detailed in “Censoring Science”!

  13. Barry says:

    Dr. Hansen is a total hero to me, my family and many friends.

    I also want to say a huge thanks to him for setting up his personal website at This was an innovative action that allowed those of us in the broader public to have direct access to his science, talks and letters. It has been very empowering to so many of us. Most of his postings quickly end up in my email box via multiple friends who are following climate chaos.

    I have referred to these writings many times in my articles, letters to editors, letters to politicians and government and in personal discussions.

    Thanks for feeding the grass roots…

  14. Special good wishes and congratulations to James Hansen,

    Thanks, Jim, for all you have been doing for many people over many years by speaking out loudly, clearly and often for the sake of protecting biodiversity from extinction, the environment from degradation, the Earth from wanton dissipation and the children from reckless endangerment.

    Please note that not only does humanity face a challenge from human-forced climate destabilization, good scientific evidence of human population dynamics is also being all but universally ignored.

    It seems somehow not quite right for the human family not to be actively encouraged to consider — and not to deny — the potentially profound implications of extant scientific evidence regarding the population dynamics of absolute global human population numbers. The research appears to indicate with remarkable clarity and utter simplicity that human population dynamics is essentially similar to the population dynamics of other species; that increases and decreases in absolute global human population numbers can be better understood as a function of food supply; and that human carrying capacity is primarily determined by food availability. The failure of able people with widely accepted knowledge of biology, population dynamics and the biophysical world to communicate openly, in an intellectually honest and morally courageous way, regarding the predicament presented to humanity by distinctly human-induced and -driven threats to human wellbeing, life as we know it, environmental health and Earth’s body from the unbridled growth of the human species now overspreading the surface of Earth is as unacceptable as it is unforgivable. The elective mutism of leading experts inside and outside the scientific community has to be replaced, I suppose, with more adequate, more reasonable, more sensible and readily available evidence of what could be real about the way the world in which we live actually works as well as about the “placement” of human beings within the order of living things. By so doing, the family of humanity can get about the necessary work of responding ably to the recognizably daunting global challenges which are looming ominously before us on the horizon.

    Somehow, the human family will most assuredly find its way forward from “here and now” to a good enough and sustainable future for the children, coming generations and life as we know it in this wondrous planetary home we inhabit and call Earth.


    Steve Salmony

    Steven Earl Salmony, Ph.D., M.P.A.
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population,
    established 2001

  15. Modesty says:

    Yes, Hansen is a hero. Thankfully more and more scientists understand that they too, like Hansen, bear a special civic responsibility.

    And thankfully more and more people in general understand that the “personal action” required of us, by us, is to do what we can, as citizens, to make ever stronger and wiser climate/energy policies politically possible.

  16. Wes Rolley says:

    I find it very ironic that Hansen gets the award that he deserves when a number of rank and file environmentalists are turning against him. I received this in an email yesterday:

    “They just say ‘Isn’t he that pro Nuke wonk?’ I would not think of bringing up his name in Oklahoma….The Oklahoma University Environmentalists do not like the words”Global Warming” and the anti nuclear activists just see red.”

    If his outstanding work gets cut off from the broader movement because they just stop listening to him, then we are all in trouble.

  17. Steve Bloom says:

    ‘The Oklahoma University Environmentalists do not like the words ”Global Warming”?’

    Actually what they should be liking (per Holdren) is “climate disruption,” but I doubt that’s what was meant. Anyway, your correspondent is clearly somewhat disconnected from reality.

    As one of those rank-and-file environmentalists, I don’t love Hansen’s position on 4th-gen nukes (noting that after all it’s just for a research program to see if it’s workable), but it’s hard to criticize his logic that unpleasant medicine of some sort will be needed if our society lacks the self-control to make the needed emissions reductions.

    Absent such reductions or workable CCS, our choices are nukes or large-scale climate modification. I think Hansen considers the latter to be horrendously risky, and I can’t disagree. I think most of the environmentalists following this debate generally understand this reasoning. Also, bear in mind that *in principle* the 4th-gen nukes would resolve the safety, waste disposal and (partially) mining problems that were the reasons for opposing nukes.

  18. Dan G. says:

    Wes writes:

    The Oklahoma University Environmentalists do not like the words”Global Warming”

    If that is so, then there is a serious problem in that group, or possibly the email you received was spam? I believe most “rank and file” environmentalists do not share your concern and I didn’t hear that in a email.

  19. Anne says:

    You left out any reference 2006 prediction by Hansen :

    April 2006
    One of the country’s leading climate scientists says there is “a good chance” for a “super El Niño” next winter, a powerful warming in the Pacific Ocean linked to wet winters in the Southwest.

    That puts Hansen’s 2009 prediction in a different light:

    “Given our expectation of the next El Nino beginning in 2009 or 2010,…”


    I know this is a wasted post since you will probably kill it.

    [JR: Why would I kill it? I’ve said I’m not a fan of short-term predictions since many other factors come in to play. The inevitability of medium and longer term warming is what matters to humanity.]

  20. Roger says:

    Jim Hansen is a true global hero–a rare, award-winning scientist who also understands politics, economics and people–and has the guts and wisdom to speak out about what he knows must be said, despite political pressure.

    For a panoramic, 360-degree photo of Jim about to address hundreds of citizens in historic Lexington, Massachusetts about the need for an American energy revolution, and the important role of the group that he inspired author/activist (and Lexington native) Bill McKibben to start, go to (Allow movie time to load.)

  21. Roger says:

    OK, that link didn’t work, so try:, or go to, click on the ‘Events’ page, then scroll down to the image of Jim at the June, 2008 speaking event in Lexington’s Cary Hall.

    Click on the image and allow the movie to load to get the full panoramic impact–where your mouse acts as a joy stick to allow you to navigate in every direction. You may even be able to pick out someone you know!

    Again, kudos to Jim for decades of service to protect our home planet!

  22. David Lewis says:

    Jim is leading in a way few are ever called to do. His vision, that the impossible must be achieved now is breathtaking and inspiring.

    Who else would hear Obama say his administration was going to listen to scientists and immediately decide to confront him with his best shot? (Hansen is sending in a letter to be delivered by Obama’s own science adviser Holdren saying the entire foundation of Obama’s policy must be discarded immediately to be replaced with policy aimed at achieving 325 – 350 ppm as soon as possible.)

    What Hansen says and does is worth studying.

  23. I have always been very inspired by James Hansen and his work and he is the person who convinced me that action is necessary. I hope he turns up the power on his efforts even more in 2009 knowing he has a lot of people behind him who are spreading the word. I’m putting some of his writing on my website and I know a lot of other people are too. Congratulations to Mr. Hansen on both awards and he very much deserves them. Tell him to keep up the excellent work!