News & AnalysisClimate Change

Hansen's Retirement From NASA Spurs Look at His Legacy

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Science  03 May 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6132, pp. 540-541
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6132.540

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For decades, American climate scientist James Hansen published important papers on global warming and shared his data at influential congressional hearings—and his policy prescriptions. The 72-year-old has also been arrested five times in protests against the continued burning of fossil fuels or to demand that the United States put a price on carbon emissions. Few other figures in modern science have straddled—and for that matter blurred—the boundaries between science, policy, and advocacy quite like the homespun but outspoken climatologist. Now, with his impending retirement from NASA, the community asks: Is Hansen a role model to be emulated by younger researchers—or a polarizing figure whose tactics have proved counterproductive?