Ben Powless
NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen was arrested on August 29, 2011, at an anti-Keystone XL rally.

Veteran NASA Climate Scientist James Hansen Leaves Government to Fight Climate Change and Keystone XL


The Keystone XL pipeline is in James Hansen’s sights as the famed climate scientist retires from NASA, where he has worked for more than 40 years, in order to spread the message about climate change full-time.

The veteran scientist, who has been arrested at least four times at rallies against the Keystone XL oil pipeline project, will step down this week, NASA said in a statement on April 1. For the past 46 years Hansen has worked at the agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York City, from which perch he has spread the word about the changing climate and its effect on future generations. He has headed the institute since 1981. 

“His departure … will deprive federally sponsored climate research of its best-known public figure,” The New York Times reported, but added, “At 72, he said, he feels a moral obligation to step up his activism in his remaining years.”

He has already done plenty during his years at NASA, including testifying before Congress and predicting many of the changes that are taking place today. In fact, as The Washington Post reports, he was among the first to warn Congress, back in 1988, that greenhouse gases threatened to cook the Earth, in testimony that “was one of the first and clearest public statements on global warming.” 

“It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here,” he told Congress then, according to The Washington Post. He also predicted ice melt, cautioned that the risks of sea-level rise were being underestimated by science, and said that the international community is not adequately addressing climate change. Most recently he has been extremely outspoken against further development in the Alberta oil sands of Canada, particularly the Keystone XL pipeline that is under review by the U.S. government and opposed by many tribes. 

To do this he “plans to take a more active role in lawsuits challenging the federal and state governments” for not issuing stricter emissions standards and for the governments’ support of extracting sludgy bituminous crude from the Alberta oil sands in Canada, The New York Times said. 

“If we burn even a substantial fraction of the fossil fuels, we guarantee there’s going to be unstoppable changes,” Hansen told The New York Times, warning of a tipping point for Earth. “We’re going to leave a situation for young people and future generations that they may have no way to deal with.”

Below, a talk Hansen gave in 2011 outlining his fears about the climate and how humans are decimating the environment that sustains us. 

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Anonymous's picture
Submitted by Anonymous on
He needs to round up the scientists to help us end this debate!!! We demand that science puts an end to this costly debate. Deniers, Former Believers and Believers, Please come together for the sake of our children and demand that science says in one strong voice that a crisis is as real as they say comet hits are...............inevitable and eventual and imminent and "WILL" happen sooner or later. Science has never said it will happen, just 27 years of "maybe". Science refuses to say that while comet hits are real, climate change is not as real as a comet hit. If science said YES or NO instead of "Help my house is on fire maybe" for another 27 years we could all then work together for responsible stewardship. It could be too late.

shannon dawson's picture
shannon dawson
Submitted by shannon dawson on
Listen TOO this man!!! Vote $cumbags owend byBP out of office or our children and our grandchildren will have to do things to eat that we thought only happend in horror movies!! I,, dont even want to take a chance of that happening!! We have the technoligy and then MOTIVATION!!!! STOP BURNING THE EARTH !!!

candyo's picture
Submitted by candyo on
If this pipeline is approved in September by the Obama yes-men, (Kerry) then, it will kill the ground we walk on and the water we drink. Take time to write to your congressman, and your Senators of your State. Say No to the Pipeline. If you don't voice your opinion then the Oil and Gas companies will do what they want. If that happens we all will have to suffer the environmental catastrophies like what happened in the Gulf by BP and what happened in Mayflower, Arkansas with the oil spills... Save Mother Earth from this big oil spill mess.

Kent Otho Doering 's picture
Kent Otho Doering
Submitted by Kent Otho Doering on
Thanks James.