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June 23, 2008

James Hansen, 20 Years After First Congressional Testimony On Global Warming

James Hansen of NASA:

Today I testified to Congress about global warming, 20 years after my June 23, 1988 testimony, which alerted the public that global warming was underway. There are striking similarities between then and now, but one big difference.

Again a wide gap has developed between what is understood about global warming by the relevant scientific community and what is known by policymakers and the public. Now, as then, frank assessment of scientific data yields conclusions that are shocking to the body politic. Now, as then, I can assert that these conclusions have a certainty exceeding 99 percent.

The difference is that now we have used up all slack in the schedule for actions needed to defuse the global warming time bomb. The next president and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation.

Otherwise it will become impractical to constrain atmospheric carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas produced in burning fossil fuels, to a level that prevents the climate system from passing tipping points that lead to disastrous climate changes that spiral dynamically out of humanity's control.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at June 23, 2008 09:16 PM

20 years...chuy..i interviewed hunter and amory lovins in 1974/5....nobody was saying anything different...

Posted by: woody, tokin librul at June 23, 2008 10:26 PM

The next president and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation.

Huffington Post

When residents in Illinois voiced outrage two years ago upon learning that the Exelon Corporation had not disclosed radioactive leaks at one of its nuclear plants, the state's freshman senator, Barack Obama, took up their cause.

Mr. Obama scolded Exelon and federal regulators for inaction and introduced a bill to require all plant owners to notify state and local authorities immediately of even small leaks. He has boasted of it on the campaign trail, telling a crowd in Iowa in December that it was "the only nuclear legislation that I've passed."

"I just did that last year," he said, to murmurs of approval.

A close look at the path his legislation took tells a very different story. While he initially fought to advance his bill, even holding up a presidential nomination to try to force a hearing on it, Mr. Obama eventually rewrote it to reflect changes sought by Senate Republicans, Exelon and nuclear regulators. The new bill removed language mandating prompt reporting and simply offered guidance to regulators, whom it charged with addressing the issue of unreported leaks.

Maybe we shouldn’t get our hopes too high.

Posted by: Rob Payne at June 24, 2008 12:34 AM

hope was never a good plan to start with

Posted by: hapa at June 24, 2008 01:43 AM

Is it just me or is it hot in here? I collect old Mechanics Illustrated Magazines from the 40s-50s SEVERAL articles about fallout in ALL new steel so labs were shielded by old WWI ship hulls. The Army had studies concluding global warming and believed it to be industrial in nature and cause. August 47 advertizes a Uranium lab kit complete with Uranimum for KIDS 7 and up. I think WE've known or suspected since WWII and just have done nothing.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 24, 2008 01:45 AM

Damn, remember a few years ago when everyone was slammin' Kevin Costner epics like WATERWORLD and THE POSTMAN?

Who knew they'd be the most accurate out of all the futurist sci-fi films?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at June 24, 2008 08:02 AM
Who knew they'd be the most accurate out of all the futurist sci-fi films?

I'm still holding out for A Boy and His Dog.

I can't help but think that apocalyptic conditions would tend to have us killing about 90% of the world's population in order to reduce the drag on energy resources and clear up a bit of the clutter. Too late yes, but you gotta do something.

10% remaining population is plenty to function as servants and replacement body parts for the saurian overlords and their first level henchmen.

Posted by: Labiche at June 24, 2008 08:26 AM

After the recent FISA sellout (presaged by his absence in previous votes - but at the time he did pat those civil libertarians on the head, so there was alway "hope"), any illusions about Obama should have been dispelled. You're not dealing with a principled visionary, rather a hyperambitious ward heeler from Chicago.

I guess you will have noticed the trend line: a steady accretion of police powers to help with the unrest when TSHTF. FISA sellout is one more data point along the continuum. Comes an ecological collapse, the elite will need to have the tools to retain control. Civil liberties will be a luxury they just can't afford. The disambiguation of the command structure will be paramount.

You don't have to be a weatherman...

Posted by: JerseyJeffersonian at June 24, 2008 09:41 AM