James Hansen, one of the world's most eminent climate scientists, and his wife, Anniek, have written an open letter to Barack and Michelle Obama on the urgency of the need to halt global warming.
AFP PHOTO / NASA AMSRE-E
The four-page letter [PDF], which Hansen has asked Mr. Obama's science adviser, John Holdren, to forward to the president-elect, warns of the "profound disconnect between actions that policy circles are considering and what the science demands for preservation of the planet."
Mr. Hansen, who heads NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies and is an adjunct professor in earth sciences at Columbia University, testified before the Senate in 1988 about the dangers of greenhouse gases and is largely responsible for first introducing the concept of global warming to the American public.
"Factories of Death"
The Hansens propose a three-pronged approach to tackling the climate crisis. First, they call for a moratorium on all new coal-fired power plants that do not effectively capture carbon dioxide emissions (a technology that has yet to be proven reliable). Burning coal, they point out, releases more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than all other fossil fuels combined. Phasing out coal, they say, "is the sine qua non for solving the climate problem."