A controversial fighter in the climate-change debate
NASA's James Hansen frequently clashes with global warming 'deniers,' as well as the Bush administration.
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"[Gray] said the models Hansen used to forecast drastic increases in the earth's temperature due to carbon in the atmosphere were flawed because they included too much water vapor, the most abundant greenhouse gas.
" '[S]o he puts that much vapor in his model and of course he gets this,' Gray said. 'He must get upper troposphere, where the temperature is seven degrees warmer for a doubl[ing of] CO2. Well, the reason he got that was – why this upper-level warming was there – was he put too much water vapor in the model.' "
Such critics do not dampen Hansen's dogged effort to reverse current temperature trends caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which Hansen warns has reached the "tipping point" of 385 parts per million. As noted by news organization Agence France-Presse:
"In a paper he [recently submitted] to Science magazine ..., Hansen calls for phasing out all coal-fired plants by 2030, taxing their emissions until then, and banning the building of new plants unless they are designed to trap and segregate the carbon dioxide they emit.
"The major obstacle to saving the planet from its inhabitants is not technology, insisted Hansen, named one of the world's 100 most influential people in 2006 by Time magazine.
" 'The problem is that 90 percent of energy is fossil fuels. And that is such a huge business, it has permeated our government,' he maintained."
Claiming in the AFP article that "both the executive branch and the legislative branch are strongly influenced by special fossil fuel interests," Hansen is challenging those interests directly.
He recently wrote to the head of one of the nation's largest power companies, asking that they meet to discuss the role coal-fired plants play in global warming. A Washington Post article went on to say that:
"... James E. Rogers of Duke Energy accepted Hansen's invitation, though he made it clear he does not foresee calling off plans to build more of the power plants that Hansen considers a main culprit in climate change.
"The exchange, carried out in full public view, highlights both a recent shift in the climate debate and the difficulty of translating this change into concrete action…. 'We simply cannot burn the coal and put the CO2 in the atmosphere and avoid having serious changes in the atmosphere,' [Hansen] said. 'The scientists are beginning to realize we have to have a much more dramatic change in direction.'"