In March 2012 the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and well-known climatologist, James Hansen, spoke at a TED conference to explain what would push a 70-year-old scientist to participate in civil disobedience against mountaintop coal mining and the Keystone Pipeline, even leading to several arrests.
In his talk, Hansen outlines the basics of climate science and its impacts, both present and future, worldwide. Moving from his landmark 1981 paper on global warming, Hansen runs through efforts of the George W. Bush White House to censor him on climate science, his growing role as an outspoken advocate for the need to change energy policies, and why he is now juggling a dual role of climate scientist and communicator.
“Imagine a giant asteroid on a direct collision course with Earth. That is the equivalent of what we face now, yet we dither, taking no action to divert the asteroid. Even though the longer we wait the more difficult and expensive it becomes,” Hansen says, adding later, “Clearly I haven’t got this message across. The science is clear. I need your help to communicate the gravity and the urgency of this situation—and its solutions—more effectively. We owe it to our children and grandchildren.”