The top US scientist on weather says we have 10 years to reverse global warming. The White House says shut up.
James Hansen is taking a risk. He says there are things the White House doesn’t want you to hear but he’s going to say them anyway.
Hansen is arguably the world’s leading researcher on global warming. He’s the head of NASA’s top institute studying the climate.
What James Hansen believes is that global warming is accelerating. He points to the melting arctic and to Antarctica, where new data show massive losses of ice to the sea.
Is it fair to say at this point that humans control the climate? Is that possible?
"There’s no doubt about that, says Hansen. "The natural changes, the speed of the natural changes is now dwarfed by the changes that humans are making to the atmosphere and to the surface."
Those human changes, he says, are driven by burning fossil fuels that pump out greenhouse gases like CO2, carbon dioxide. Hansen says his research shows that man has just 10 years to reduce greenhouse gases before global warming reaches what he calls a tipping point and becomes unstoppable. He says the White House is blocking that message.
Dozens of federal agencies report science but much of it is edited at the White House before it is sent to Congress and the public. It appears climate science is edited with a heavy hand. Drafts of climate reports were co-written by Rick Piltz for the federal Climate Change Science Program. But Piltz says his work was edited by the White House to make global warming seem less threatening.
Piltz worked under the Clinton and Bush administrations. Each year, he helped write a report to Congress called "Our Changing Planet."
Piltz says he is responsible for editing the report and sending a review draft to the White House.
Asked what happens, Piltz says: "It comes back with a large number of edits, handwritten on the hard copy by the chief-of-staff of the Council on Environmental Quality."
Asked who the chief of staff is, Piltz says, "Phil Cooney."
Piltz says Cooney is not a scientist. "He’s a lawyer. He was a lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute, before going into the White House," he says.