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.

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