Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker profile of James Hansen

It’s here, and well worth reading. Hardly the zealot the denialists make him out to be, which should surprise exactly no one familiar with his work or public speech.

For me the two key takeaways are Hansen’s unwavering resolution to point out that bills like Waxman-Markey (ACES) are insufficient to the task at hand and perhaps calamitously so, and Kolbert’s point that while politicians seem to willfully misunderstand climate science, Hansen seems to willfully misunderstand politics. I think they’re both correct, and that provides a sobering counterpoint to the jubilation of ACES’s passage in the House.


3 responses to “Elizabeth Kolbert’s New Yorker profile of James Hansen

  1. Marion Delgado

    Thanks for this i don’t read the New Yorker or any other magazines much.

  2. What is politically possible has to be readjusted. I thought that Obama would have the guts to stand up and actually tell the truth about climate change – hopes dashed perhaps.

    The news is very bad – Hansen and others in the scientific community are not trained to be public people, and generally are very conservative in their conclusions, even more so in their public pronouncements on policy that is suggested by their findings.

    That a man like Hansen is as alarmed as he is ought to provide people with a strong enough wake-up call to spur action. That it hasn’t is not only sad, but dangerous. The world truly has changed. Obama ought to recognize this, and adjust his actions accordingly.

    At other times of national crises, leaders have stood up and called the nation to action. Just because the US went to war against the Nazis doesn’t mean that there wasn’t a significant amount of support within the US for Hitler – he got the economy moving, after all. But it had become clear by the actions of the Axis and specifically the Japanese at Pearl Harbour that the nation was threatened, and the threat was perceived as being mortal to the interests of the US. After the declaration of war, those who supported the Nazis became very circumspect in their comments…

    There now exists a clear and present danger to the vital interests of the US. The changes necessary in order to ward off this danger will demand hard work, sacrifice, courage, dedication. The rewards for getting to work and making the necessary changes are great; the punishment for inaction and “business as usual” are going to be severe.

    When will Obama and other world leaders get it, and start to actually have the courage to act?

    And when will we start to look at the politicians and lobbyists who would lie, cheat, distract us from the real danger, as we would look at others who act in ways that are clearly opposed to the best interests of the nation, and treat them as the treasonous deniers that they actually are?

    Since when is private greed an excuse for the endangerment of others?

  3. Mary Byington

    I feel so sad, Elizabeth Kolbert, when you say, “There are lots of ways to lose an audience with a discussion of global warming, and new ones, it seems, are being discovered all the time.”

    I just want you to know that I read everything you write in the New Yorker and feel much better informed because of your diligent research. I don’t exactly proselytise, but I do feel capable of presenting a lucid argument about global warming, thanks to you.

    I know you won’t give up.

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