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World  

Global warming harbinger

James Hansen wishes he was wrong. He wasn't.

NASA's top climate scientist in 1988, Hansen warned the world on a record hot June day 30 years ago that global warming was here and worsening. In a scientific study that came out a couple months later, he even forecast how warm it would get, depending on emissions of heat-trapping gases.

The hotter world that Hansen envisioned in 1988 has pretty much come true so far, more or less. Three decades later, most climate scientists interviewed rave about the accuracy of Hansen's predictions given the technology of the time.

Hansen won't say, "I told you so."

"I don't want to be right in that sense," Hansen told The Associated Press, in an interview is his New York penthouse apartment. That's because being right means the world is warming at an unprecedented pace and ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are melting.

Hansen said what he really wishes happened is "that the warning be heeded and actions be taken."

They weren't. Hansen, now 77, regrets not being "able to make this story clear enough for the public."

He left NASA in 2013, devoting more time to what he calls his "anti-government job" of advocacy.

Hansen, still at Columbia University, has been arrested five times for environmental protests. Each time, he hoped to go to trial "to draw attention to the issues" but the cases were dropped. He writes about saving the planet for his grandchildren, including one who is suing the federal government over global warming inaction. His advocacy has been criticized by scientific colleagues, but he makes no apologies.

"If scientists are not allowed to talk about the policy implications of the science, who is going to do that? People with financial interests?" Hansen asked.



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