Dr. James Hansen

Decades of Denial and Stalling Have Created a Climate Crunch

Read time: 4 mins
Firefighters spray water on a 2013 bush fire in Australia

In a 1965 speech to members, American Petroleum Institute president Frank Ikard outlined the findings of a report by then-president Lyndon Johnson’s Science Advisory Committee, based in part on research the institute conducted in the 1950s.

The substance of the report is that there is still time to save the world's peoples from the catastrophic consequence of pollution, but time is running out,” Ikard said, adding, “One of the most important predictions of the report is that carbon dioxide is being added to the earth’s atmosphere by the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas at such a rate that by the year 2000 the heat balance will be so modified as possibly to cause marked changes in climate beyond local or even national efforts.”

Many scientists were reaching similar conclusions, based on a body of evidence that had been growing at least since French mathematician Joseph Fourier described the greenhouse effect in 1824. In the 1950s, Russian climatologist Mikhail Budyko examined how feedback loops amplify human influences on the climate. He published two books, in 1961 and 1962, warning that growing energy use will warm the planet and cause Arctic ice to disappear, creating feedback cycles that would accelerate warming.

More Than 800 Scientists and Energy Experts Urge Donald Trump to Take Climate Change Seriously

Read time: 3 mins
Donald Trump

The scientific community was more involved in the 2016 U.S. presidential election than perhaps any other election in the past. This was likely due to the fact that Donald Trump, the Republican nominee who won the election, is an admitted climate change denier. And given the unprecedented rate at which the planet is warming, scientists decided to play an active role in the election.

In September, 375 scientists urged U.S. citizens to vote against Trump because of his refusal to accept science. In late November, more than 2,300 scientists warned Trump that they would fight any efforts by his administration to deny climate change or to expand fossil fuel production.

And now this week more than 800 scientists and energy experts have signed onto yet another open letter to President-elect Trump, urging him not only to accept the scientific consensus on manmade climate change, but also to take the necessary steps to fight its impacts.

Subscribe to Dr. James Hansen