5/24/2010 1:23:42 PM

NASA Scientist: Earth Close to Tipping Point

Rapid action on climate change is needed, says Jim Hansen. The climatologist has posted an outline of the talk he recently gave to the French National Assembly in which he urged a worldwide change of course.

"I think that my job as a scientist is to connect the dots all the way with scientific objectivity using empirical evidence," he says. "And it is my job, as a father and grandfather concerned about young people, future generations, and the other species that share our planet, to point out that the path the world is on, if we stay on it, will push the climate system beyond tipping points."

His main points:

Climategate: The recent cold winters in the U.S. and Europe, minor IPCC errors, and the global temperature change discussed in the East Anglia e-mails all strengthen the case for urgent action on global climate change.

Target CO2: We must reduce carbon emissions to less than 350 parts per million.

Fossil fuel reserves: We must make the switch from fossil fuels rapidly, phasing out coal, avoiding tar sands. We must also not go after every last drop of oil/gas on the planet

Reality: As long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, people will keep burning them.

Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. He is known worldwide for his work on climate change.


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