Q&A: James Hansen

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


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.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.