Last updated on: 7/2/2013 | Author:

James E. Hansen, PhD Biography

Former Director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA
Pro to the question "Is Human Activity Primarily Responsible for Global Climate Change?"

“The greatest barrier to public recognition of human-made climate change is probably the natural variability of local climate…

Actions to stem emissions of the gases that cause global warming are unlikely to approach what is needed until the public recognizes that human-made climate change is underway and perceives that it will have unacceptable consequences…

Recent high profile heat waves, such as the one in Texas and Oklahoma in the summer of 2011, raise the question of whether these extreme events are related to the on-going global warming trend, which has been attributed with a high degree of confidence to human-made greenhouse gases…

The increase of these extreme anomalies, by more than an order of magnitude, implies that we can say with a high degree of confidence that events such as the extreme summer heat in the Moscow region in 2010 and Texas in 2011 were a consequence of global warming…

There are many other human-induced stresses on life… yet global warming caused by fossil fuel burning may be a unique threat because of the millennial time scale of anthropogenic carbon within surface carbon reservoirs.
It has been argued that a scenario phasing out carbon emissions fast enough to stabilize climate this century, limiting further warming to a maximum of several tenths of a degree Celsius, is still possible, but it would require a rising price on carbon emissions sufficient to spur transition to a clean energy future without burning all fossil fuels.”

Cowritten with Makiko Sato and Reto Ruedy, “Perception of Climate Change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Aug. 6, 2012

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Adjunct Professor, Earth Institute, Columbia University, 1985-present
  • Former Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 1981-2013
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences, 1995-present
  • Recipient, Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal, World Wildlife Fund (WWF), 2006
  • Recipient, John Heinz Environment Award, 2001
  • Recipient, NASA Presidential Rank Award of Meritorious Executive, 1997
  • Recipient, National Wildlife Federation Conservation Achievement Award, 1989
  • Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, Columbia University, 1978-1985
  • Staff Member/Space Scientist, Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS),
  • Manager of GISS Planetary and Climate Programs, 1972-1981
  • Research Associate, Columbia University, 1969-1972
  • NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, Leiden Observatory (Netherlands), 1969
  • NAS-NRC Resident Research Associate, Goddard Institute for Space Studies, 1967-1969
  • PhD, Physics, University of Iowa, 1967
  • Attended the Institute of Astrophysics, Tokyo University (Japan), 1965-1966
  • MS, Astronomy, University of Iowa, 1965
  • BA, Physics and Mathematics, University of Iowa, 1963
  • He was arrested during a protest against the Keystone XL pipeline in front of the White House, Aug. 2011
  • He was arrested during a protest against mountain top removal coal mining in front of the White House, Sep. 2010
  • He was arrested during a protest against Massey Energy’s mountain top removal coal mining, June 2009
Quoted in:
Pro & Con Quotes: Is Human Activity Primarily Responsible for Global Climate Change?