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Global Warming at NASA: What Is Agency's Role in Climate Change Narrative?

Image: Global Warming at NASA: What Is Agency's Role in Climate Change Narrative?
James Hansen takes part in a mock funeral parade during a Climate Change Campaign Action Day on March 19, 2009 in Coventry, England. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 08 Dec 2014 07:18 PM

Originally, NASA's mission was to develop technology related to civilian space exploration, aeronautics and aerospace. However, in 1961, NASA established the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which delved into not just planetary research but also atmospheric science. By the late 1980s, NASA's extensive contributions to the science of global warming made the agency a major player in the climate change narrative. 

Dr. James E. Hansen directed the Goddard Institute for Space Studies from 1981 to 2013, and he is credited with getting Congress to pay attention to the issue of global warming in 1988. Dr. Hansen's research findings sounded the alarm about global warming as it related to the greenhouse effect and pollution. The expert congressional testimony presented by Dr. Hansen and his colleagues from NASA opened up the climate change narrative. This narrative was quickly embraced by the media and certain members of Congress who saw the need for a plan of action to slow global warming.

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Dr. Hansen retired from NASA in 2013, but he remains a very vocal climate change activist. According to fellow activist and author Bill McKibben, Dr. Hansen "has done the most important science on the most important question that there ever was." 

According to The New York Times,Dr. Hansen's retirement from NASA, "will deprive federally sponsored climate research of its best-known public figure."

However, NASA employs a number of highly qualified climate scientists who continue to carry out the Goddard Institute for Space Studies key objective to predict "atmospheric and climate changes in the 21st century." 

In addition to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, NASA has a highly interactive website, Global Climate Change Vital Signs of the Planet that provides a wealth of information on global warming. Included on the graphically impressive site are articles on the science of global warming, a section on current climate change news and an "Earth Right Now" blog with the tagline, "Your planet is changing. We're on it." In keeping with its influential role in the climate change narrative, the site also offers a global warming resource section for students and educators.

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By the late 1980s, NASA's extensive contributions to the science of global warming made the agency a major player in the climate change narrative.
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2014-18-08
Monday, 08 Dec 2014 07:18 PM
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