The RGS is pleased to be hosting this event as part of the Climate Change Conference week organised by Civic Exchange.
Drinks from 6.30 and lecture starts at 7pm, please note earlier time.
“When the history of the climate crisis is written, Hansen will be seen as the scientist with the most powerful and consistent voice calling for intelligent action to preserve our planet's environment."
— Al Gore, Time Magazine
Dr. James Hansen, the leading United States scientist on climate issues and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, speaks in this lecture on his controversial view of the “full truth" of global warming.
Dr. Hansen believes that the planet is hurtling even more rapidly than previously acknowledged to a climatic “point of no return". He believes that though the threat of humancaused climate change is now widely recognised, politicians have failed to connect policy with the science, responding instead with ineffectual remedies dictated by special interests. For instance, he believes that US President Obama’s solution, the favoured “capandtrade", which Sir Crispin Tickell and former U.S. VicePresident Al Gore have also signed on to, won’t be effective. He believes that the only solution is to phase out all coal, and rapidly to move the world to 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere, if the world is to avoid global meltdown.
Dr. Hansen views are highly controversial, and decry conventional wisdom, including the Kyoto Protocol and to some degree the failed Copenhagen climate summit. But he argues that his climate warming predictions of the 1980s to the U.S. Congress, then dismissed by most, have in fact already been exceeded. In this lecture, he paints a devastating view of the state of the world in the years and decades from now if nothing is done. But he concludes on an optimistic note that there is time to fix the problem if urgent, strong action is taken now.
In this lecture, Dr. Hansen reviews the evidence for climate change, finding humaninduced contributions to increased average global temperatures to be in “total dominance" over naturally occurring ones, though accepting that these exist. He assesses what in his view is the total failure by politicians and policy makers to address the situation. The gravity of the present situation notwithstanding, Dr. Hansen believes that hope for a “brighter future" has not yet been entirely stifled. Transitioning from the current atmospheric carbon concentration of 387 parts per million to his “appropriate initial target" of 350 ppm is in his view still practically achievable, though “just barely." Dr. Hansen argues that central to the project of a return to 350 ppm is the phasingout of coal emissions as rapidly as possible, with them ending by 2020 in the ‘developed’ world. He believes oil and gas as having to play a role in the transitional period, but only if adequate capture and sequestration technologies can be developed and implemented on a mass scale. He argues for a “nuclear renaissance" driven by the development of fourthgeneration nuclear power plants, which he finds to be the only viable means by which drastically to reduce carbon emissions in the near term.
Dr. James Hansen is professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Dr. Hansen is a worldrenowned climatologist widely regarded as having been instrumental in bringing the spectre of anthropogenic climate change to public attention with his testimony on the question before the U.S. Congress in 1980s, and he has engaged in public advocacy on climate issues since then. Dr. Hansen was elected a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1996. In 2001, he received the 7th Annual Heinz Award for the Environment and was listed as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. Also in 2006, Dr Hansen received the WWF’s Conservation Medal from HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and the American Association for the Advancement of Science selected Dr. Hansen to receive their Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. In 2007, Dr Hansen was the Laureate of the Dan David Prize and received both the HaagenSmit Clean Air Award and the Leo Szilard Award of the American Physical Society. In 2008, he received the PNC Bank Common Wealth Award of Distinguished Service and was named as the Scientist Communicator of the Year. In 2009, Hansen was awarded the Rossby Research Medal, the highest honour bestowed by the American Meteorological Society, and in 2010 the Sophie Prize.