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James E. Hansen      

Adjunct Professor Directing the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions of the Earth Institute at Columbia University; Former Director at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies

James Hansen, formerly Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is Adjunct Professor and at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, where he directs a program in Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions.

Since the mid-1970's, Hansen has focused on studies and computer simulations of the Earth's climate, for the purpose of understanding the human impact on global climate. He is best known for his testimony on climate change to Congress in the 1980's that helped raise broad awareness of the global warming issue. In recent years Hansen has drawn attention to the danger of passing climate tipping points, producing irreversible climate impacts that would yield a different planet from the one on which civilization developed. Hansen disputes the contention, of fossil fuel interests and governments that support them, that it is an almost god-given fact that all fossil fuels must be burned with their combustion products discharged into the atmosphere. Instead Hansen has outlined steps that are needed to stabilize climate, with a cleaner atmosphere and ocean, and he emphasizes the need for the public to influence government and industry policies.

Hansen was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and, in 2001, received the Heinz Award for environment and the American Geophysical Union's Roger Revelle Medal. Hansen received the World Wildlife Federation’s Conservation Medal from the Duke of Edinburgh in 2006 and was designated by Time Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people in 2006. In 2007 Hansen won the Dan David Prize in the field of Quest for Energy, the Leo Szilard Award of the American Physical Society for Use of Physics for the Benefit of Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility. In 2008, he won the Common Wealth Award for Distinguished Service in Science and was also awarded both the Ohio State University’s Bownocker Medal and the Desert Research Institute’s Nevada Medal. In 2009, Hansen received the American Meteorological Society’s Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal. In 2010 he received the Sophie Prize and the Blue Planet Prize.

Speech Topics

A Peaceful Revolution: Global Justice for Young People Requires a New Approach

Young people have the power to influence elections, and thus, in principle, the world they will live in -- as evidenced in the rise of Obama in 2008 and Sanders in 2016. However, the issues that young people should care about, which make their generation the first in memory to face diminishing prospects, have not been addressed. Climate change, which has not been addressed in a sensible way by either political party, is just one of those issues. However, analysis of what is needed to solve the climate and energy problem, and the reasons that neither party has sensibly addressed this problem, reveals what is fundamentally wrong with our democracy, how the political parties have begun to serve themselves rather than the public. Sending a wrecking crew to Washington to "drain the swamp" addresses only the symptoms of the problems. I believe that my experiences in Washington and in more than a dozen countries can provide young people information that helps them chart a more successful course.

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