Leading climate scientist gives public lecture at UC

24 May 2011

A public lecture by the scientist who brought the issue of climate change to the world's attention attracted a full house to one of the University of Canterbury's largest lecture theatres on Friday.

Leading climate scientist gives public lecture at UC

Dr James Hansen

A public lecture by the scientist who brought the issue of climate change to the world's attention attracted a full house to one of the University of Canterbury's largest lecture theatres on Friday.

Dr James Hansen, Adjunct Professor at Colombia University's Earth Institute and Director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York, gave a public talk in the University's A1 lecture theatre today as part of his New Zealand speaking tour.

More than 300 people turned up to hear Dr Hansen talk, with some having to listen to the lecture being broadcast outside after the theatre reached capacity.

Best known for bringing the urgency of the climate change issue to the world's attention when he gave evidence to the US congress in 1988, Dr Hansen's talk was titled "Climate Change: a scientific, moral and legal issue".

Dr Hansen told listeners that the world's climate was "out of balance" and something needed to be done now to ensure the consequences of climate change were not felt by future generations. One solution was to leave fossil fuels, such as coal, in the ground and find alternative energy sources.

"If we burn all the fossil fuels we will push the planet back towards an ice-free state and set in motion a process that will be out of our control."

A carbon fee or tax, collected from fossil fuel companies, should also be levied he said.

Dr Hansen was invited to New Zealand by a group of environmental, social justice and business organisations, academics and individuals as a contribution to the ongoing debate about climate change and coal.

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