James Hansen, climatologist. Professor at Columbia University. Former head of NASA institute for Space Studies.

Dr James Hansen: We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re solving the climate problem with renewables.

Watch famed climate scientist Dr James Hansen, the former head of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, totally nail the big picture on global climate and energy challenges:

Meeting the Renewable Energy Challenge: James Hansen Keynote (29 minutes)

Cheat sheet:

Or, if you don’t have time to watch the video right now, here are the three key charts you need to see.

1. We’re kidding ourselves if we think we’re solving the climate problem with renewables. This chart shows the true scale of the challenge we face to replace coal, oil and gas with clean fuels.


2. Making electricity carbon-free is the key. Then we are virtually home and dry. We can then use clean electricity to make liquid fuels for vehicles. Some countries have already cut the carbon from power generation (e.g. Sweden and France on the chart below, with hydro and nuclear).


3. What drives climate change is not emissions today. It’s the accumulated emissions that count. Once released, carbon remains in the biosphere for millennia. In the developed world we have already burned more than our fair share of fossil fuels to achieve the high quality of life we enjoy today. If we want young people to have a future and a lifestyle even better than today, we need to generate very large volumes of low carbon electricity as soon as possible.



Video shows: James Hansen keynote “Climate Change & Energy: A Global Perspective” at the UI Public Policy Center’s “Meeting the Renewable Energy Challenge” symposium on October 16th, 2014.