The crusade to fight global warming ignited with the Senate testimony of James Hansen on 23 June 1988. It was a hot day, and hotter in the room. Neither was coincidence, as described in this Interview with Timothy Wirth (Senator Colorado 1987-93), Frontline on PBS, broadcast on 17 January 2007.
Question: What was it in the late ’80s, do you think, that made the issue [of global warming] take off?
Wirth: I think a number of things happened in the late 1980s. First of all, there were the [NASA scientist Jim] Hansen hearings [in 1988]. … We had introduced a major piece of legislation. Amazingly enough, it was an 18-part climate change bill; it had population in it, conservation, and it had nuclear in it. It had everything that we could think of that was related to climate change. … And so we had this set of hearings, and Jim Hansen was the star witness.
Q: How did you know about Jim Hansen?
Wirth: … I don’t remember exactly where the data came from, but we knew there was this scientist at NASA who had really identified the human impact before anybody else had done so and was very certain about it. So we called him up and asked him if he would testify. Now, this is a tough thing for a scientist to do when you’re going to make such an outspoken statement as this and you’re part of the federal bureaucracy. Jim Hansen has always been a very brave and outspoken individual.
Q: What else was happening that summer? What was the weather like that summer?
Wirth: Believe it or not, we called the Weather Bureau and found out what historically was the hottest day of the summer. Well, it was June 6 or June 9 or whatever it was, so we scheduled the hearing that day, and bingo: It was the hottest day on record in Washington, or close to it. It was stiflingly hot that summer. [At] the same time you had this drought all across the country, so the linkage between the Hansen hearing and the drought became very intense.
… So a number of things came together that, for the first time, people began to think about it. I knew it was important because there was a big article in, I believe, the Swimsuit Issue of Sports Illustrated on climate change. [Laughs.] So there was a correlation. You figure, well, if we’re making Sports Illustrated on this issue, you know, we’ve got to be making some real headway.
Q: And did you also alter the temperature in the hearing room that day?
Wirth: … What we did it was went in the night before and opened all the windows, I will admit, right? So that the air conditioning wasnÕt working inside the room and so when the, when the hearing occurred there was not only bliss, which is television cameras in double figures, but it was really hot. … So Hansen’s giving this testimony, you’ve got these television cameras back there heating up the room, and the air conditioning in the room didn’t appear to work. So it was sort of a perfect collection of events that happened that day, with the wonderful Jim Hansen, who was wiping his brow at the witness table and giving this remarkable testimony. …
About Timothy Wirth
Timothy Endicott Wirth (born 1939) is a former United States Senator from Colorado. Wirth, a Democrat, was a member of the House from 1975 to 1987 and was elected to the Senate in 1986, serving one term there before stepping down. Wirth organized the 1988 Senate hearing at which James Hansen addressed global warming
He was Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs during the Clinton Administration. In the State Department, he worked with Vice President Al Gore on global environmental and population issues, supporting the administration’s views on global warming. He led the US delegation to the 1997 Kyoto conference. Since 1998 he has served as the president of the United Nations Foundation.
For more information from the FM site
To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Including About the FM website page. Of esp relevance to this topic:
- About Science & Nature – my articles
- About Science & nature – studies & reports.
- About Science & Nature – general media articles
- About Science & Nature – the history of climate fears
Other posts about climate science propaganda:
- An example of important climate change research hidden, lest it spoil the media’s narrative, 22 May 2009
- An army of Davids storm the walls of the scientific establishment, 19 June 2009
- More attempts to control the climate science debate using smears and swarming, 19 October 2009
- An important letter sent to the President about the danger of climate change, 21 October 2009 — Official NOAA history about global cooling in the 1970s.
- About those headlines from the past century about global cooling…, 2 November 2009 — On the other hand, some skeptics also exaggerate.
- A look at global warming written in a cooler and more skeptical time, giving us a better understanding of climate science, 23 November 2009 — A prominent climatologist talks about the state of the science in the 1970s.
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