Q&A: James Hansen

James Hansen, head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, on why CO2 should be declared a pollutant.

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Mother Jones: What will be the hardest thing to fix in the Bush administration’s legacy to science?

James Hansen: The hardest thing to fix will be the result of Bush reneging on his campaign promise to declare CO2 from power plants as a pollutant. It is practically impossible to retrieve the CO2 once it has been emitted. Much of it stays in the air more than 1,000 years. Because of his broken promise many coal-fired power plants were built, that would not otherwise have been built. Very hard to fix—there is a strong reluctance to bulldoze a new power plant that cost more than a billion dollars to build. Our great-grandchildren will suffer because of his broken promise.

MJ: What will be the easiest thing to fix?

JH: Restore the first line of the NASA mission statement: to understand and protect the home planet.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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