The work of most climate scientists is specialized. As a result, their findings are not always helpful to policymakers interested in the broad picture. This tendency toward professional specialization is one reason for the lack of productive engagement between climate scientists and civic leaders. In contrast, Dr. Hansen’s voice is important not only because he is regarded as a scientific leader in the field, but because his work speaks directly to the big picture — to the very questions that are most relevant to policymakers and civic leaders.
As a result, by pairing Dr. Hansen’s scientific work with an outreach effort there is a potential for communication, over and above normal press coverage accompanying new scientific publications. This outreach activity can take advantage of personal contacts that Dr. Hansen has built over the years. Dr. Hansen’s prior testimonies and meetings with officials have led to acquaintances with several Senators and Representatives, as well as the current Secretary of State and the President’s Science Advisor.
Dr. Hansen believes that conservatives can become supportive of actions needed to stabilize climate, indeed that their support will be essential. Dr. Hansen has had contact with Senator John McCain and has testified before his Senate committee, and he has met with Grover Norquist, as described in a Communication on Dr. Hansen’s website. We anticipate that a time will come in the reasonably near future when it will be possible for conservatives to come out in favor of actions, such as fee-and-dividend, that use market mechanisms to help solve the addiction to fossil fuels and lead a move to clean energies.
Dr. Hansen and our team receive requests for assistance and cooperation, including speaking at various university conferences, testifying in the Senate and courts, meeting with high level public officials, and attending think tank workshops. These requests represent opportunities for us to make a big difference.