Professor James Hansen Visits Our School

Professor James Hansen of Columbia University, former Director of NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, was invited to visit the School of Physics Peking University during December 21-22, 2015. Professor Hansen had a group discussion with students and faculty in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, and delivered the Peking University Global Fellowship speech. His visit received extensive attention from the mass media, including interviews with Sanlian Lifeweek, Sohu and Tencent.

During the panel discussion in the morning of Dec. 21, Prof. Hansen patiently answered many questions and concerns raised by the students and faculty. He introduced, in great scientific detail, the cause, consequence and potential solutions of climate change. He argued that the combination of carbon fee and next-generation nuclear power would effectively reduce our use of fossil fuel, and therefore reduce CO2 emission and mitigate global warming. It was further pointed out that China’s rapid economic development, along with an increasing demand of energy, provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to promote the study of global change and the transition to clean energy, ensuring China’s leading role in related fields and industries. Prof. Hansen had close and extensive exchanges with more than 30 students and faculty members, on topics such as global warming hiatus, an unprecedented El Niño event in 2015 and advancements in climate simulation etc.

In the afternoon, Prof. Hansen was warmly welcomed by Prof. Gao Song, Vice President of Peking University, in Yingjie Exchange Center. He later delivered a passionate speech entitled Climate Change Problem & Opportunities: Finding a Realistic Pathway to Clean Energy & Stable Climate, hosted by Prof. Hu Yongyun, Vice Dean of the School of Physics and Chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences. More than 200 students and scientists from PKU and other universities and institutions attended this lecture. A 40-minute long Q&A session was held following the speech.

Prof. Hansen is a world-renowned climatologist. He is best known for his paper on Science regarding climate change and his testimony to congressional committees in the 1980s, which helped raise public awareness of the global warming issue. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1995 and received numerous awards including the Carl-Gustaf Rossby and Roger Revelle Research Medals, the Sophie Prize and the Blue Planet Prize.