James Hansen on NASA retirement and climate action


Sustainability Media Lab shot this video interview on April 10 with James Hansen on why he left NASA, his next steps, how the energy industry is impeding urgent climate action, and his wish for his grandchildren:

“I want to devote full time to trying to help the public understand the urgency of addressing climate change, and the kinds of actions that are needed — which actually aren’t all that difficult if we could just get people to understand them and to put the pressure on the political system….

“It’s a very straightforward requirement, but unless young people start standing up and demanding their rights, it’s not going to happen.

“We’ve got to use the media so that everyone can understand what’s at stake and what’s needed to solve the problem.”

Earlier post: On crossing paths with citizen Jim Hansen, and the question: What are you ready to do?

The Sustainability Media Lab is “Columbia students working to make sustainable development more accessible, relevant, and compelling across all media. We’re bringing together students, scientists, media practitioners, and creatives to make the process of understanding sustainable development more inclusive, bridging the gap between academia and public understanding. The Sustainability Media Lab is a platform for students to collaborate on innovations in sustainability communications.

“Many people consider sustainable development as complex & obtuse, at a time when public support for a sustainable path forward is critical. With an intense curiosity for technology, behavior, media & design, we seek to answer this question: What could sustainability communications look like?”

This entry was posted in Activism, Climate Change Education and Communication. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to James Hansen on NASA retirement and climate action

  1. Jeremy says:

    Thank you, Climate science watch for the interview post
    Dr. James Hansen is one hero in the field of science and we must support his actions and put pressure on our politicians to escape the grip of $$$$ from the fossil fuel lobby.

  2. Carlana Rhoten says:


    In 2008 and 2010, the Federal Emergency Management Agency issued two reports on the subject of potential damages, deaths, and costs in the event of a moderate to severe New Madrid Earthquake, titled, “IMPACT OF AN EARTHQUAKE IN CENTRAL USA.” These reports addressed the expected breakage to existing pipelines carrying oil and gas across the country. They did NOT address the potential breakage to NEW pipelines associated with the Keystone XL Pipelines being installed from Canada to the Gulf, or the NEW hydraulic fracturing (fracking) pipelines for natural gas, being drilled from Colorado to the East Coast.

    The 1811-12 New Madrid earthquakes changed the course of the Mississippi River, cracked sidewalks in Washington D.C. and knocked chimneys off houses in Maine. New Madrid earthquake damage covers more than 20 times the area of a California earthquake, because it “pops up” instead of plates grinding back and forth. Also, the soil of the Midwest is more inclined to liquefy, which would cause buried pipes to break, far beyond the center of the seismic activity. Broken Keystone pipes could poison aquifers and tributaries to the Mississippi River, while broken fracking pipes poison the water in many more states.

    The USGS issued two fact sheets in regard to the likelihood of a New Madrid seismic event in the next fifty years : Fact Sheet # 131-02 and Fact Sheet # 2009-3071. Government geologists are indicating that within the next fifty years, there is a 25% to 40% chance of a 6.0 or greater magnitude earthquake; and, a 7% to 10% chance of a major 6.0 to 8.0 magnitude earthquake, equal to the 1811-12 experience.

    Since 1972, there have been nearly 4,000 tremors measured by USGS, so it is considered “active.” The satellite photographs do not show movement of back and forth, because the New Madrid fault moves vertically instead. Simulations have been conducted involving FEMA, EPA, Department of Interior, USGS, the Army Corps of Engineers, University of Illinois at Urbana, Institute for Crisis, Disaster and Risk Management at George Washington University among others. These simulations, like the simulation of a major hurricane hitting New Orleans, BEFORE Hurricane Katrina, tend to be discussions between experts that seldom get covered by the media or never involve the citizenry who are most likely to be victims. There is an aversion to being called “Chicken Little,” that is so powerful that experts will keep citizens in the dark, rather than take the chance of scaring them unnecessarily. (Meteorologists frequently put off recommending an evacuation until after it is too late to do any good.)

    In addition to this psychological inhibition, we are in an age of brutal budget cuts. Agency heads who tell politicians any facts that they don’t want to hear, may find themselves on furlough. Universities dependent on grants and funding from fossil fuel corporations, may be hesitant to go looking for new hazards related to the Keystone XL Pipelines or pipes that are used for hydraulic fracturing. The truth becomes an orphan, told to go knock on somebody else’s door.

    For this reason, we should urge our Senators and Representatives to make official inquiries to all the relevant federal departments and agencies. Ask them to give an assessment of potential New Madrid Earthquakes as they relate to pipelines for TransCanada and fracking pipes for natural gas. There should be hearings held by the Senate and the House, to get the facts NOW.
    Carlana Rhoten 412-363-7472

    About 15 popular books have been published about the 1811-1812 earthquakes.

    Reports can be obtained from FEMA and USGS

  3. Brian says:

    James Hansen has provided the science community with so much vital information on climate change throughout his career. He will surely be missed but we all know we will see him again in the court rooms advocating for changes in environmental policies.

Comments are closed.