Climate change has plunged earth into crisis: NASA

April 7th, 2008 - 7:30 pm ICT by admin  

New York, April 7 (IANS) Climate change caused by global warming has plunged the earth into a crisis but fossil fuel industries are trying to hide the extent of the problem from the public, NASA’s top climate scientist has alleged. “We’ve already reached a dangerous level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” said James Hansen, 67, director of the space agency’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies here.

“But there are ways to solve the problem” of heat-trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which Hansen said has reached the “tipping point” of 385 parts per million.

In a paper submitted to Science magazine on Monday, Hansen called for phasing out all coal-fired plants by 2030, taxing their emissions until then, and banning the building of new plants unless they are designed to trap and segregate the carbon dioxide they emit.

The major obstacle to saving the planet from its inhabitants is not technology, insisted Hansen.

“The problem is that 90 percent of energy is fossil fuels. And that is such a huge business, it has permeated our government,” he said. “What’s become clear to me in the past several years is that both the executive branch and the legislative branch are strongly influenced by special fossil fuel interests.

“The industry is misleading the public and policy makers about the cause of climate change. And that is analogous to what the cigarette manufacturers did. They knew smoking caused cancer, but they hired scientists who said that was not the case.”

Government public relations officials, he said, filter the facts in science reports to reduce “concern about the relation of climate change to human-made greenhouse gas emissions.”

Hansen said he had stepped outside the traditional role of scientists and become a public policy advocate because “in this particular situation we’ve reached a crisis”.

“The people who need to know are ignorant of the actual status of the matter, and the gravity of the matter, and most important, the urgency of the matter.

“It’s analogous to an engineer who sees that there’s a flaw in the space shuttle before it is to be launched. You don’t have any choice. You have to say something. That’s really all that I’m doing.”

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