In honor of Earth Day, I thought I’d share an article from the New Yorker magazine written in 2009. “The Climate Expert Who Delivered News No One Wanted To Hear” is a profile of James Hansen, a NASA scientist who created one of the world’s first climate models, nicknamed Model Zero, 43 years ago.
Hansen grew up in a small town in western Iowa, one of seven children born to a tenant farmer who moonlighted as a bartender after the Second World War.
What struck me about Hansen after reading the article is that the driving force behind his incredible body of work as a scientist, climatologist and activist has always been curiosity and concern — he says he’s a conservative who wants to preserve the world. The other thing the article brought home to me was just how long people like Hansen have been out there trying to get our attention — observing planetary changes, researching the ‘why’ behind those changes, and creating predictive models for life on Earth if we don’t make some significant changes. James Hansen is 81 now, directing the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. I hope you find his profile as thought-provoking as I did.