THE director of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies, James Hansen, was awarded the 2009 Carl-Gustaf Rossby Medal in Phoenix yesterday. This is the highest honour bestowed by the American Meteorological Society and was awarded for Dr Hansen’s outstanding contributions to climate modelling, understanding climate change forcings and sensitivity, and for clear communication of climate science in the public arena.
Dr Hansen is passionate about global warming and quick to give advice and offer support to those who champion the idea that there is an urgent need for a global reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. He has been an advisor to Al Gore and flown to the UK to testify in support of Greenpeace activists on trial for criminal damage to a coal-fired power station.
There is, however, nothing charitable or thoughtful in Dr Hansen’s approach to controversy. He has only contempt for so-called climate change sceptics claiming they operate like tobacco scientists and he has suggested that CEOs of fossil energy companies should be tried for high crimes against humanity and nature.
Dr Hansen heads a team that collates thermometer temperature data from all over the world some have described him as “the keeper of global temperature data”.
This honour will further confirm Dr Hansen’s place with opinion leaders as the most reliable source of expert advice on climate related issues. As New York Times journalist Andrew C. Revkin has commented on his DotEarth Blog: “Whatever one thinks of James E. Hansen’s mix of climate science and policy advocacy it’s hard not to take note when the country’s largest organization of weather specialists, the American Meteorological Society, gives this veteran climatologist its top honor.”
It seems we live during a period where passion is valued much more than wisdom even by scientific societies.
1. Global Warming Twenty Years Later: Tipping Points Near, by James Hansen, Address to the National Press Club and Briefing to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence, Washington, June 23, 2008
Photograph of Dr James Hansen republished from Phil Aroneanu’s blog post here: http://itsgettinghotinhere.org/2008/06/24/20-years-later/