Climate Science Data
and Local Projections

James Hansen, Restoring the Earth's Energy Balance - The Green Interview

James Hansen is a world-renowned climate scientist and director of Climate Science and the Climate Science Awareness and Solutions Program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. In this exclusive Green Interview, Hansen speaks with Silver Donald Cameron about why it is so difficult to mobilize the public around climate change and what needs to be done, quickly, to restore the Earth’s energy balance. Hansen also explains how a system of carbon pricing would jump start the development of alternative energies, reduce greenhouse gases and provide a return to the public all at the same time.

Projections by Michael Rawlins, UMass Climate System Research Center

Michael Rawlins is Associate Director of the Climate System Research Center, and Extension Associate Professor of the Department of Geosciences, College of Natural Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Remarks by Craig Slatin, UMass Health Sciences

Craig Slatin is Professor Emeritus from the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Hurricane Irene tore up the Pioneer Valley in 2011, all the way from New York City o the Canadian border,  washing out roads, bridges, and farm land.  In the coming decades, Franklin County will experience more devastation from severe weather:  ice storms, periods of heavy rain with flooding, blizzards, and maybe hurricanes and tornadoes.  

The state and municipalities are going to have to provide money for recovery,  repair and rebuilding bridges, dams, roads, buildings and other infrastructure.  At some point Massachusetts will need to take money from other pots to recover from these extreme climate events. Money for education, healthcare, ongoing maintenance of infrastructure, and replacement of old buildings with new ones will need to be redirected just to keep roads open and facilities working.  That will impact people’s lives most, especially those in the working class and more rural communities. Resilience will be needed and it will need to be redefined repeatedly.  

Meanwhile, it’s going to get hotter and hotter in the summers. We are going to need more tree canopy in our urban areas, and more irrigation and plant protection for farming. We will need to make sure everyone has air conditioning powered by renewable energy, so we have to find ways of generating that energy and getting all in place. All of this is going to cost a fortune, or the failures to do so will.   This heat will increase heart attacks and heat stress/strokes, especially for outdoor workers. Wildfires elsewhere will spread smoke that covers the valley, leading to respiratory illness events for the young, old and already sick. 

Meanwhile, the wetter, warmer weather means increased populations of ticks and mosquitoes, resulting in more illnesses like Lyme and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.  Infectious diseases at the epidemic level are very likely to show up more frequently.  COVID has subsided but is not gone and won’t be gone. 

The 4th and 5th (most recent) National Climate Assessment reports have sections on the Northeast and on Public Health. The 4th breaks down health concerns by national region, but the 5th does not.