Now that NASA scientist James E. Hansen is retiring, he will finally be able to pursue a longtime passion: helping climate activists suing the U.S. government.
For 46 years Hansen was a pioneering climate researcher for the government and one of the first scientists to warn the world about the causes and effects of a warming planet.
Hansen has tilted further toward activist in recent years, earning him both the ire of opponents and the concern of colleagues who think his protests undermine the value of scientific neutrality. As you can see in the picture in this post, he’s been arrested a few times at protests.
Being a NASA scientist for 46 years, though, has prevented him from doing what he has felt his research has compelled him to do: Force the government to adopt stricter controls on greenhouse gas emissions.
“As a government employee, you can’t testify against the government,” he said in an interview with Justin Gillis of The New York Times.
“If we burn even a substantial fraction of the fossil fuels, we guarantee there’s going to be unstoppable changes” in the climate of the earth, he said. “We’re going to leave a situation for young people and future generations that they may have no way to deal with.”
Even when he couldn’t accuse the government of crimes against the climate, Hansen has been arrested for protesting mountaintop mining, and the Keystone XL Pipeline.
“At my age,” which is 72, “I am not worried about having an arrest record.”
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