I’m sad to see that climate scientist James E. Hansen, after a 46-year career at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, will retire to pursue his activism on climate change. I can only image that the federal government is happy to see Hansen go; I always imagined his extremely visible presence as something of a much-needed thorn in the side.
Having said that, I understand his reasoning, i.e., that his position within the space agency limited is ability to use the law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, as government employees cannot testify against the government. And I suppose it’s safe to assume that we’ll be hearing more – not less – from him Dr. Hansen and his aggressive criticism of U.S. inaction on the subject. In particular, there is no reason to think that he’ll be less conspicuous at public protests on climate-related issues, at which he’s been arrested on numerous occasions. “At my age (72),” he quipped, “I am not worried about having an arrest record.”
Among other things, Hansen plans to lobby European leaders — who are among the most concerned about climate change — to impose a tax on oil derived from tar sands, since its extraction results in greater greenhouse emissions than conventional oil. Great concept, btw: identify something that we really want to make go away and make it financially unattractive. The idea certainly has my full support.
Thanks to Dr. Hansen for his service, and best wishes for his continued success.