I’m going this evening to see the great climatologist James Hansen speak at the University of California at Santa Barbara. I will be just one of hundreds of people there, but with a little luck will be able to ask him a question. What should I ask? Here are three possibilities:
1) According to documents given recently to "The Guardian" newspaper regarding the IPCC’s just released Fourth Assessment Report, the US government believes that (and I quote) "Modifying solar radiance may be an important strategy if mitigation of emissions fails for one reason or another. Doing the R & D to estimate the consequences of applying such a strategy is important insurance that shuold be taken out."
Dr. Hansen, you led a major long-term study that reported in 2005 on the energy balance of the earth. Could you please discuss the idea of attempting to reflect or otherwise modify radiation the earth is taking in from the sun?
2) According to a news story published last week in the Wall Street Journal, US government scientists such as Tom Delmore think that the reality of global warming "may be more dire" than the Fourth Assessment Report states, because the report doesn’t estimate the risk of rising sea levels caused by melting glaciers and snow cover, and because it underestimates the warming caused increasing amounts of water vapor in the atmosphere. Could you please comment?
3) Dr. Hansen, you first warned the Congress this country about the threat of global climate change back in l988. Your warnings were largely ignored, and your work was attacked, often by people connected directly or indirectly to fossil fuel interests. Can you talk a little about how it feels to have played the role of Cassandra in this debate?