The Weekend Wonk: James Hansen’s 2015 Presentation

September 19, 2015

A reader sent me this link.


Dr. James Hansen is one of the world’s leading climatologists and former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Dr. Hansen speaks to the CNA2015 crowd about the impact of emerging technologies and discoveries on our ability to maintain a sustainable climate.

Most of us have heard Dr. Hansen speak – but he is so much a touchstone for what science knows about climate change – that I think hearing a recent version of his talk is worthwhile.
This talk was delivered before his most recent paper, which warned of even more catastrophic sea level impacts.

Dr. Hansen suggests nuclear energy as a solution, which is controversial, but, hey, he’s Jim Hansen.

Hansen notes that this is an “issue of intergenerational injustice. Our parents couldn’t know that burning fossil fuels was a problem, we can only pretend not to know.”


7 Responses to “The Weekend Wonk: James Hansen’s 2015 Presentation”

  1. Peter, we’ve crossed swords over nuclear power in the past, so I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your open-mindedness on the issue. Climate is a huge problem, and we can’t afford to leave any possible solution off the table.

  2. dumboldguy Says:

    The statement that “Dr. Hansen suggests nuclear energy as a solution, which is controversial, but, hey, he’s Jim Hansen” can be interpreted different ways.

    One way is as a bit of a back-hand snark and poke at Hansen because he has been one of the earliest and most out-spoken on the need to deal with carbon pollution AND has come to see the dreaded bogeyman of nuclear power as a needed part of the solution.

    I see his presentation here as a good recap of where we stand, with good graphics and info, and he spent more time on tax and dividend than he did on nuclear power.

    Perhaps that’s because there is so much unwarranted bias against nuclear power, just as there is towards vaccines and GMO among the ignorant and cognitively dissonant, and Hansen doesn’t want to set off those who are knee-jerk negative about nuclear power. He’s tip-toeing, perhaps? (Although considering the audience, he needn’t have worried—maybe he knew it would be rebroadcast?)

    IMO, there is only one way to “interpret” Hansen himself—-as a scientist who “gets it”, one who understands fully where we are and how we got here, and who has deep moral convictions about what we have done to ourselves and the future of mankind and the Earth.

  3. We do not “need” nuclear power, as renewables from a variety of sources, and with some storage can supply more than enough electricity. Nuclear power has all sorts of problems, not the least of which is it is capital intensive, and creates waste that we still have no way to deal with.

    Dr Hansen is correct on the climate – but that doesn’t mean he is right about nuclear power.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      You think Hansen is “correct on the climate” but is dead wrong on nuclear power? So, in your opinion, if Hansen agrees with you on climate, he’s a genius but if he doesn’t agree with you on nuclear power, he’s a dummy?

      I won’t call you totally ignorant and cognitively dissonant because you have made some intelligent comments on Crock before, but you ARE guilty of some rather interesting cherry picking and logic fails here.

      Hansen advocates nuclear power because it can produce large amounts of virtually carbon-free power in a relatively short time IF we get mobilized and start building next-gen nukes soon. Of course “renewables with some storage” CAN supply “more than enough”, but it’s just not happening fast enough to address the concerns of Hansen and the other well-known scientists who agree with him about the need to add more nuclear to the mix. Hansen is worried exceeding about tipping points, creating irreversible positive feedbacks, and the “storms of his grandchildren” (read the book).

      Furthermore, nuclear energy is actually cheaper than the present carbon-based energy systems IF we include the costs that are externalized—-all the present and future damage caused by the burning of fossil fuels and mitigation thereof. And we actually have better ways to “deal with” nuclear waste than we have to deal with the carbon pollution that is creating “all sorts of problems” that threaten to overwhelm us. How many CCS plants are in operation today compared to nuclear plants?

      Air pollution in China is estimated to kill 4,000+ people every day—about 1.5 million per year—-and is responsible for about 1/6 of all deaths there. More people have died in a single coal mine accident than ALL the people who have been killed by nuclear power since its inception. You need to look at your knees the next time you comment about nuclear power.

  4. Kaj Luukko Says:

    I think, that anti-nuclear activism is endangering our future. Nuclear power can run 24/7/365. Solar and wind can not. There is no such “storage” that could change this fact. It’s possible, that there will never be.

    My friends wrote a book. It’s here:

    Worth reading!

    • dumboldguy Says:

      I for one am absolutely convinced that antinuclear activism is endangering our future. Your friends’ book looks like a good one—-it summarizes the case for needing nuclear power very nicely—-good graphics, too.

      Long live “Vart Land”!

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