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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 We have withdrawn our support of this effort.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.