Scientific American: Why did James Hansen retire on April 2 after 32 years as director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies? As he told the enterprising students of Columbia University’s Sustainability Media Lab who captured him in the following video, “I want to devote full time to trying to help the public understand the urgency of addressing climate change.”
It’s not exactly the “spend more time with my family” excuse often give by retiring government officials, but his family is nonetheless the reason for this change. He’s worried about preventing “climate chaos” and instead preserving the relatively stable climate of the past 10,000 years—when human civilization developed and flourished—for his five grandchildren.
That means full-time activism for the 72-year-old, and perhaps the risk of getting arrested at more coal-mine or tar-sand protests.
It’s quite rare for a government employee with effective) “tenure” to quit his job, thereby “breaking his iron rice-bowl” (in a Chinese metaphor). We can wish more people could afford to do it.
Protecting your own life (that is, income) by refusing to do an immense public service is a form of CORRUPTION, but who among us would accept poverty (or JAIL: think wikileakers) to stand up for a principle?
Hansen wants to protect his own grandkids, but (MORE IMPORTANT I SHOULD IMAGINE) he wants to protect the human race and the other large life-forms due to be severly tested if not made extinct by the on-rushing cllimate change which Hansen seeks to (somewhat) ameliorate — it neing too late now to avoid much of it (because we’ve waited too long).
As to waiting too long, thank the oligarchs for that.