Anniversary of Dr. James Hansen’s Speech: Much Remains Undone

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Today, Saturday, June 23, 2018, it will be 30 years since my hero, Dr. James Hansen, delivered an address to Congress that could have, indeed should have, started America on the road to taking a leadership role in combating climate change. Sadly, that has not happened – and it may never.

For those readers unfamiliar with Dr. Hansen, from 1981 to 2013, he was the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. Through his deep understanding of how planet Venus lost its oceans, and how human activities are propelling us toward a similar outcome, Dr. Hansen has become the world’s foremost advocate for civilization’s survival.

Thirty years ago in his speech before Congress Dr. Hansen stated, “Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and observed warming. It is already happening now. The greenhouse effect has been detected and it is changing our climate now.”

That, as I said, was 30 years ago. Since then, all the nations of the world have taken notice and pledged to take part in working to save civilization … save one, the United States of America. We have withdrawn our support of this effort.

It was because of Dr. Hansen that my wife and I decided to do what we could to reduce our own CO2 emissions and by 1998 we had gone entirely off the grid, obtaining our electricity from the sun.

Twenty years ago we were hopeful that others might follow our example, and that a movement might begin that perhaps could make a real difference. How naive we were. However, to this day Dr. Hansen remains hopeful. I wish I were.

Richard Douse
Richard Douse lives with his two favorite ladies: Tammy, his wife, and Ann Margret, his cat.  They live off the grid in a home they built themselves.  They grow their own food because they don’t trust corporations doing it for them.  Douse thinks of himself as a liberal.  He believes liberals are blue-collar folk who know how to work and think for themselves.  He believes that what we do, individually and collectively, in the next 10 years will determine whether civilization continues - or goes away.
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13 Responses

  1. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    With over 300 million liberals and conservatives living in America it is an impossibility for everybody to live off the grid. As most of Americans live in cities other means of saving the planet have to be looked for.
    And America and Germany, according to WHO, are the only major industrial countries that have reduced emissions while the other countries have increased theirs. When the other countries, mostly in Asia and Africa, reduce their emission output then America can join them.

    • Avatar Jones Murphy says:

      Africa is an insignificant player in causing global warming, but the leader in experiencing the pain.

      • Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

        Read WHO’s list of top thirty most polluted cities in the world. While no city in the Americas, south or north, are on the list there are cities in Africa on the list. Like everything in Africa the poor experience the pain of the few.

  2. Randall Smith Randall Smith says:

    The geologic record tells us of life with oceans and CO2 concentrations much higher than today. Our species is another in a long line of living things with impact making permanent change. We do need to live within our means and be good stewards. However, incessant worry, guilt and blame are not particularly inspiring. Interestingly, Al Gore never took a geology course.

    Vast reserves of coal, oil, whole continents bedded with limestone mean we need to apprehend a different time orientation and be more concerned with numbers and lifestyles than politics and shame.

    • Avatar Gary Tull says:

      “Interestingly, Al Gore never took a geology course”.

      Um… how exactly would you know that for sure?

    • Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

      As Al Gore graduated high school in DC and Harvard I would dare say along the way he probably took a geology class.
      What I find, and did not know, was Al Gore, unlike the last four presidents, served in the military and did a brief tour in Vietnam. Perhaps he should be the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate. Right now he looks better than the other choices.

  3. Tom O'Mara Tom O'Mara says:

    Dick, you were ahead of your time and still are!

  4. James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

    Global warming is a real threat, but with such a high world population, it is doubtful we can solve it, either technologically or politically. Sadly, the Four Horsemen will probably have to solve it. We could certainly slow it down by moving away from gas engines and coal power, tho.
    As to liberals being blue collar folks who know how to work and think for themselves . . . . Hmmm

  5. AJ AJ says:

    Thank you for the reminder that if we aren’t good stewards . . . then who? The “I will if you will” thinking is short sighted and completely counter productive. It’s two little spoiled kids in the playground daring each other to jump off the cliff when the cliff is crumbling underneath them.

  6. Avatar Steven T. Callan says:

    Dick, thank you so much for writing this article about Dr. Hansen. Kathy and I were fortunate to meet him and hear him speak while we were attending a convention in Connecticut several years ago. Let’s hope we wake up and take his message seriously. The future of this planet may depend on it.

  7. Avatar Therese says:

    I’m 60 years old. I remember saying as a women in my 20’s (after all the chit-chatting-debating was done). “No worries, MaMa Earth will simple “HaChoo…, and start over again.

  8. Avatar Chris Garvey says:

    Thanks for writing your article, Dick.

  9. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    Great article Richard. I admire that you and your wife didn’t just talk about this huge problem, but you put in the work and effort into creating a life that is tuned to the health of the world.