Remembering Hansen’s Congressional Testimony

 

…there is only a 1 percent chance of an accidental warming of this magnitude….[T]he greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now.

James Hansen, 23 June 1988

 

With the Greenhouse scare turning thirty this summer, we remember the Congressional testimony that launched it in the USA.

Thirty years ago, on 23 June 1988, James Hansen testified to a Congressional committee that anthropogenic global warming has been detected—he claimed a 99% statistical certainty that greenhouse warming is happening now. Later, surrounded by reporters, Hansen urged an immediate policy response, thereby launching the greenhouse warming scare in the United States.

Motivation

James Hansen testifying to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, June 23, 1988.

James Hansen testifying to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 23 June 1988

The committee hearings were called to promote a climate bill introduced by the Democrats and to promote responses to the greenhouse threat in the environmental policy platform of the Dukakis presidential campaign. There had been a number of previous attempts to promote the issue at Congressional hearings—particularly persistent was Al Gore—so it does pay to ask why this one was so spectacularly successful. Continue reading

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