Tag Archives: James Hansen

March 27, 2008 – James Hansen writes to Kevin Rudd. For all the good it did.

On this day in 2008, an open letter from climate scientist James Hansen arrived in the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s inbox.  Rudd had taken office the previous November, and was enjoying stratospherically high approval ratings.

2008 03 27 hansen letterIt’s a letter that came shortly after Ross Garnaut’s first interim report was produced, and careful observers could see which way the wind was blowing.  Hansen’s letter is well worth a read.  Here’s a taste.

Yet there are plans for continuing mining of coal, export of coal, and construction of new coal-fired power plants around the world, including in Australia, plants that would have a lifetime of half a century or more. Your leadership in halting these plans could seed a transition that is needed to solve the global warming problem.



Also on this day-

In 1999 the ABC’s Radio National ran a programme on Greenhouse Emissions Trading, since the Australian Greenhouse Office was busy trying to get it up the policy agenda.


And in 2001  Senator Bob Brown tried to get parliamentarians roused to get their own house in order. Yeah, good luck with that.

Senator BROWN (2:43 PM) —Madam President, my question is directed to you. I refer to the government’s $3.9 million greenhouse advertising program headed up by Don Burke and ask: have you been approached by anybody, the Prime Minister or the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, to implement that program in Parliament House? If so, how is it going? If not, is it true that there are some 500 television sets which could be turned off at the wall each night in Parliament House but which may not be? Is it true that there are some 300 shower heads in Parliament House which are not AAA shower heads, though householders around Australia have been asked to put AAA shower heads into their showers? Are there 500 or more fridges in Parliament House which could be turned up one degree, which, according to the advertising, would save 50 kilograms of greenhouse gases for each fridge? That is about 25,000 kilograms of greenhouse gases per annum.


June 23rd, 1988 – Jim Hansen says it’s time to stop waffling….

Dr. Hansen, a leading expert on climate change, said in an interview that there was no ”magic number” that showed when the greenhouse effect was actually starting to cause changes in climate and weather. But he added, ”It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here.”

From the New York Times

Also on this day

1997 American Petroleum Institute US newspaper advert in run up to Senate Vote, addressed to Clinton…

1997 131 Australian Economists sign statement telling Howard to get with the (Kyoto) programme. For all the good it does….

2009 Mountaintop removal protest

June 15, 1991 – Mount Pinatubo erupts, slowing temperature increase (very) briefly

On this day in 1991 In the Philippines, Mount Pinatubo erupted. It was the second largest volcanic eruption of the 20th Century, and it caused a “dramatic but temporary” break in global warming trends, as predicted by Hansen et. al in 1992.

We use the GISS global climate model to make a preliminary estimate of Mount Pinatubo’s climate impact. Assuming the aerosol optical depth is nearly twice as great as for the 1982 El Chichon eruption, the model forecasts a dramatic but temporary break in recent global warming trends. The simulations indicate that Pinatubo occurred too late in the year to prevent 1991 from becoming one of the warmest years in instrumental records, but intense aerosol cooling is predicted to begin late in 1991 and to maximize late in 1992. The predicted cooling is sufficiently large that by mid 1992 it should even overwhelm global warming associated with an El Nino that appears to be developing, but the El Nino could shift the time of minimum global temperature into 1993. The model predicts a return to record warm levels in the later 1990s. We estimate the effect of the predicted global cooling on such practical matters as the severity of the coming Soviet winter and the dates of cherry blossoming next spring, and discuss caveats which must accompany these preliminary simulations.

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

June 8th, 1993 – Clinton runs up the white flag on the “BTU tax”

“President Bill Clinton and his allies in Congress confirmed the obvious on Tuesday: There will be wholesale revisions in his five-year budget plan, including major changes in a proposed energy tax.

“Negotiations are continuing with dissident Democrats in the Senate over the details as the president fights to collect enough votes from his own party to pass his plan.

“Despite the impending changes, which will include more spending cuts and fewer taxes, none of the Senate’s 43 Republicans is expected to vote for the plan, their leaders said.

“On the chopping block is Mr. Clinton’s proposal to tax the heat content of fuels – the so-called Btu tax.”

From the New York Times

Also on this day

2005 Phil Cooney exposed as pro-fossil fuel lobbyist within Bush Whitehouse, softening climate reports

2007 A journalist who wrote about Hansen in 1989 revisits the man’s positions on climate.



As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.



June 2nd, 2005 – Arnold versus the greenhouse. (1989 – “Hansen versus the world”)

On June 2, 2005, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced an initiative to curb greenhouse gas emissions in California as a step towards addressing global warming. In his speech, the governor declared, “The debate is over. We know the science. We see the threat, and we know the time for action is now.

“I say the debate is over. We know the science. We see the threat, and we know the time for action is now.”

–Arnold Schwarzenegger

San Francisco, June 2, 2005

Nope, the time for action was the 1980s.  Oh well….

Also on this day
june2ndhansen1989 Story appears in Science with the title Hansen vs. the World on the Greenhouse Threat
2014 EPA proposes “Clean Power Plan”

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

May 8th – 400ppm, Hansen gagged, a warning from 1980. Rationing abandoned…

On May 8th 2013 the species reached a milestone that should have perhaps had us freaking out.  We hit 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.  See here (BBC story), here (National Geographic) and here (Gavin Schmidt quote).

Meanwhile, 24 years earlier –

“More specifically, on 8 May 1989, the Office of Management and Budget confirmed that it had altered the Congressional testimony of NASA’s James Hansen, thereby weakening his conclusion that enough was known about the phenomenon to justify immediate action. The Whitehouse defended this action by claiming that it wanted to avoid the appearance of policy disagreements within the Administration. The political fallout from this episode was considerable, not only within the United States but also internationally.”

Rowlands, I. (1995) The politics of global atmospheric change Manchester: Manchester University Press, page 76 [Hansen had been punished for truth-telling before, in 1981 when the Reagan Department of Energy had pulled promised funding, causing sackings.  There was, of course, more to come.]

Also on this day
1980 Nature news piece on “C02 could increase global tensions” – with Exxon funding piece underneath


2008 UK plans/thoughts towards personal carbon rationing scrapped.

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

May 3rd, 2007 – Jim Hansen’s “Scientific Reticence and Sea Level Rise” accepted for publication

James Hansen: “I suggest that a ‘scientific reticence’ is inhibiting communication of a threat of potentially large sea level rise. Delay is dangerous because of system inertias that could create a situation with future sea level changes out of our control. I argue for calling together a panel of scientific leaders to hear evidence and issue a prompt plain-written report on current understanding of the sea level change issue.”

You can read it here.  We are so toast.

Also on this day

1963- The police force in Birmingham, Alabama switches tactics and responds with violent force to stop the “Birmingham campaign” protesters. Images of the violent suppression are transmitted worldwide, bringing new-found attention to the African-American Civil Rights Movement. [wikipedia]

1999 – The southwestern portion of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma is devastated by an F5 tornado, killing forty-five people, injuring 665, and causing $1 billion in damage. The tornado is one of 66 from the 1999 Oklahoma tornado outbreak. This tornado also produces the highest wind speed ever recorded, measured at 301 +/- 20 mph (484 +/- 32 km/h).

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.