<img alt=“hansen.jpg” src=“http://blogs.nature.com/climatefeedback/hansen.jpg” width=“200” height=“290” align=“right” hspace=“10px”//>In an exclusive interview published today on Nature Reports Climate Change, climate scientist James Hansen talks about his forthcoming book, Storms of My Grandchildren.
Arguably the world’s most famous climate scientist, and Director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York, Hansen’s conviction that a climate catastrophe is looming has led him, in recent years, to increasingly take on the role of advocate, sending numerous pleading letters to world leaders and CEOs, and attending well-publicized protests against coal plants.
It’s also prompted him, at the age of 68, to write his first book, which looks at the dangerous climatic events that will greet the next generation if the fossil fuel use continues unabated.
Due out in December, Storms of My Grandchildren is the silver lining of Hansen’s recent fight with prostate cancer, which afforded him a six-week recuperative period during which he finished his book. In an interview with Keith Kloor, Hansen discusses the climate problem and potential solutions, his personal carbon footprint and his frustration with political ‘greenwashing’.
“I am sorry to say”, he writes in his book, “that most of what politicians are doing on the climate front is greenwashing — their proposals sound good, but they are deceiving you and themselves at the same time.”
Hansen tells Kloor that former US Vice President Al Gore is among those deceiving themselves that we are on track to solving the climate problem. “I saw him on Larry King last night,” says Hansen, “and what really worries me is that he sounds optimistic that we’re now on a track to solve this problem.” He lets out an incredulous chuckle. “We’re not, however, on a track, and that’s clear.”
The self-deception extends to advocates of the cap-and-trade legislation currently under review by the US Senate, he says. He opposes the bill, in large part because of the offsets system that would allow polluters to continue spewing emissions, but also because political horse-trading has brought in provisions that will enable aging coal plants to stay in operation. “There’s a huge gap between their public position and the realities of their policies. That’s the situation we have now in Congress,” says Hansen.
Read the full interview here [free access].
Image by Arnold Adler.