Founders’ Day Speaker Vocal on Global Warming Threat
January 29, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Climate expert James E. Hansen is calling on today’s youth to
reign in global warming.
Director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Goddard Institute for
Space Studies, Hansen will deliver the address for Illinois Wesleyan University’s
annual Founders’ Day Convocation at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Westbrook Auditorium
(1210 N. Park St., Bloomington). The evening event will cap a day of Founders’ Day
activities, honoring the University’s founding in 1850, and is free and open to the
Hansen’s speech, titled “Climate Tipping Points: The Threat to the Planet,” will address
the nature of the global warming problem that he sees as a potential “perfect storm”
– an accelerated disaster out of humanity’s control. Hansen believes young people
may provide a “tipping point” to draw needed attention to global warming.
One of the nation’s foremost researchers on climate change, Hansen has been called
upon to testify before Congress on global warming and has published more than 50 articles
in scientific journals and reviews on the subject. For decades, he has advocated an
open dialogue on global warming, and been critical of both the Clinton and Bush administrations’
stances on climate changes.
A member of the National Academy of Sciences, Hansen has twice received the NASA Presidential
Rank for Meritorious Executive Award. He has been awarded the John Heinz Environment
Award in 2001, the Roger Revelle Medal from the American Geophysical Union in 2002,
the Duke of Edinburgh Conservation Medal from the World Wildlife Fund in 2006 and
the Leo Szilard Lectureship Award from the American Physical Society in 2007.
Working with NASA’s Goddard Institute for more than 30 years, Hansen has seen his
work soar to other planets, but says he discovered the most exciting planetary research
involves trying to understand the climate change on earth.
Hansen began his work with NASA as a graduate trainee while still at the University
of Iowa, where he earned his bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics in 1963,
a master’s in astronomy in 1965 and a doctorate in physics in 1967. He joined the
Goddard Institute as a research fellow after graduation, and became a staff member
in 1972. He was named director of the institute in 1981.
During the 1970s, Hansen was an investigator for several missions, including the Pioneer
Venus Cloud Orbiter and the Voyager Photopolarimeter Experiment. He was principal
investigator on the Galileo orbiter to Jupiter, which earned a NASA Group Achievement
Award. He then became manager of the Goddard Institute’s planetary and climate programs,
working to develop research to effectively monitor and study global climate changes.
Hansen also teaches at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia
His address at the evening Convocation will highlight Illinois Wesleyan’s Founders’
Day, which honors the founding of the University. Activities will take place during
the day to commemorate the event, including the dedication and renaming of the newly
renovated Main Lounge in Memorial Center, and a birthday party, complete with an Illinois
Wesleyan birthday cake.
Contact: Rachel Hatch (309) 556-3960