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Quotes by James Hansen

  • American scientist
  • Born March 29, 1941

James Edward Hansen (born 29 March 1941) is an American adjunct professor directing the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is best known for his research in climatology, his 1988 Congressional testimony on climate change that helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to avoid dangerous climate change. In recent years he has become a climate activist to mitigate the effects of climate change, on a few occasions leading to his arrest.


As species are exterminated by shifting climate zones, ecosystems can collapse, destroying more species.




Because cap and trade is enforced through the selling and trading of permits, it actually perpetuates the pollution it is supposed to eliminate.




It's as certain that as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, we will just keep burning them.


I have been described as the grandfather of climate change. In fact, I am just a grandfather and I do not want my grandchildren to say that grandpa understood what was happening but didn't make it clear.




Jail threats did not dissuade Martin Luther King - and intergenerational justice is a moral issue of comparable magnitude to civil rights.




Recent warming coincides with rapid growth of human-made greenhouse gases. The observed rapid warming gives urgency to discussions about how to slow greenhouse gas emissions.




Climate change is analogous to Lincoln and slavery or Churchill and Nazism: it's not the kind of thing where you can compromise.




Global warming isn't a prediction. It is happening.


We have known since the 1800s that carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere. The right amount keeps the climate conducive to human life.




On a per capita basis, Britain is responsible for more of the carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere than any other nation on Earth because it has been burning it from the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.




What makes tar sands particularly odious is that the energy you get out in the end, per unit carbon dioxide, is poor. It's equivalent to burning coal in your automobile.




I was lucky to grow up at a time when it was not difficult for the child of a tenant farmer to make his way to the state university.




The fact is fossil fuel carbon will stay in the surface climate system for millennia.




Consider the perverse effect cap and trade has on altruistic actions. Say you decide to buy a small, high-efficiency car. That reduces your emissions, but not your country's. Instead it allows somebody else to buy a bigger S.U.V. - because the total emissions are set by the cap.




Adding CO2 to the air is like throwing another blanket on the bed.


The five warmest years over the last century occurred in the last eight years.




Some Democrats deserve to be criticized.




Coal is responsible for as much atmospheric carbon dioxide as other fossil fuels combined and it still has far greater reserves. We must stop using it.




Talking nice about sun and wind and green jobs is just greenwash.




You can't tie a rope around the ice sheet. You can't build a wall around the ice sheets.




You have no time to do the science if you're talking to the media.




With a fourth generation of nuclear power, you can have a technology that will burn more than 99 percent of the energy in the fuel. It would mean that you don't need to mine uranium for the next thousand years.




Until the public demands otherwise, the policy makers will continue to serve their financiers.




You can't turn on your television without seeing these advertisements about clean coal, clean tar sands and the claim that there's more jobs associated with fossil fuels than other industries. That's of course not true. But they're hammering that into the voters' heads.




Several times in Earth's history, rapid global warming occurred, apparently spurred by amplifying feedbacks. In each case, more than half of plant and animal species became extinct. New species came into being over tens and hundreds of thousands of years. But these are time scales and generations that we cannot imagine.




The trains carrying coal to power plants are death trains. Coal-fired power plants are factories of death.




Tipping points are so dangerous because if you pass them, the climate is out of humanity's control: if an ice sheet disintegrates and starts to slide into the ocean there's nothing we can do about that.




What is frustrating people, me included, is that democratic action affects elections but what we get then from political leaders is greenwash.




If your child gets asthma, the fossil fuel industry doesn't pay. Or if there's a natural disaster, the bill is paid by the taxpayer, not the fossil fuel company.




Scientists will say we can't blame global warming for any single event. In a sense that's right, but the fact that the frequency and intensity of these events is increasing you can blame on global warming.



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