Dr. James Hansen to give keynote at annual sustainability symposium

Holly Burns, Contributing Writer

The University will hold its seventh annual Sustainability Symposium entitled “Young People’s World: Making Your Future Energy, Climate & Human Rights” on April 26-27. The Sustainability Symposium aims to promote positive environmental changes by educating individuals about the importance of a sustainable future and preserving our environment.


The symposium will be presented by Bucknell’s Center for Sustainability & the Environment (BCSE) which highlights the ways nature and education are connected. It provides students with opportunities to create a relationship with the environment as a way to get involved in the community and positively impact others.


This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. James Hansen, a climate scientist from Columbia University. Hansen is widely known for his 1988 Congressional testimony on climate change which is credited in drawing public attention to global warming. Hansen’s talk is scheduled for April 26 at 8 p.m. in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are free and can be reserved through the University’s box office.


“Dr. Hansen is certainly recognized as one of the leading voices on climate change and global warming awareness … He is recognized for speaking truth about outlining actions needed to protest the future of young people and all species on the planet,” Faculty Director of BCSE Peter Jansson said.


Hansen has published many books on the importance of preserving earth’s cleanliness and the different components that contribute to climate change. His most well-known books are “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity” (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2009) and “Sophie’s Planet: A Search for Truth About Our Remarkable Home Planet and Its Future” (Bloomsbury Publishing, April 2020).


Hansen’s book “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity” focuses on the threat of fossil fuels and the way they are negatively affecting ecosystems across the globe. His second book, “Sophie’s Planet: A Search for Truth About Our Remarkable Home Planet and Its Future,” uses a very interesting perspective to promote a clean environment. Hansen converses via letters with his granddaughter, trying to promote a healthy place to grow up in for coming generations.


Hansen’s work is not limited to climate research. Hansen was also the director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies until 2013, where he helped with research in New York City. He is also a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and is the recipient of both the Sophie and Blue Planet Prizes. The Sophie Prize honors individuals or groups who promote sustainable development. The Blue Planet prize commends excellence in research relating to any environmental issues. The year following this, Hansen obtained his position at Columbia University where he works as the head of the Program on Climate Science, Awareness and Solutions at the Earth Institute.


Hansen has also been praised by former Vice President Al Gore who said, “When the history of the climate crisis is written, Hansen will be seen as the scientist with the most powerful and consistent voice calling for intelligent action to preserve our planet’s environment.”


The schedule for the entire Sustainability Symposium is as follows. There is a poster session (peer-reviewed) on April 26 from 5-7 p.m. in the Terrace Room of the Elaine Langone Center (ELC). From 8-9:30 p.m. Hansen will deliver the Keynote Address in the Weis Center for the Performing Arts. On April 27, there will be a Plenary Dialogue Session at 9 a.m. in the Forum of the ELC. From 10-11 a.m. there will be oral presentations also in the Forum of the ELC. Lastly, there will be a wrap-up and closing from 11-11:30 a.m. in the Forum of the ELC.

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