2007 Award Recipients
AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility
James Hansen is honored for his courageous and steadfast advocacy in support of scientists’ responsibilities to communicate their scientific opinions and findings openly and honestly on matters of public importance.
The AAAS Award for Scientific Freedom and Responsibility, established in 1980, honors scientists, engineers, and their organizations whose exemplary actions, sometimes taken at significant personal cost, have served to foster scientific freedom and responsibility. The recipient receives $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.
James Hansen heads the NASA Institute for Space Studies, a division of the Goddard Space Flight Center (GISS), and is Adjunct Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University’s Earth Institute.
He is a pioneer in the use of computer models that documented some of the earliest evidence of a human influence on global climate. Over the past 30 years, Dr. Hansen has displayed the rare ability to not only perform cutting-edge scientific research, but also to explain complex technical issues in readily-understandable terms. His 1980s testimony before congressional committees on climate change helped to raise broad awareness of the dangers of global climate change.
Since Dr. Hansen first began to testify about his findings in the 1980s, he has faced pressure, and sometimes outright opposition, from highly placed individuals in the past four administrations to alter his message in one direction or the other. In consistently pursuing to keep his scientific opinions free from political influence and revision, Dr. Hansen has drawn attention to the broader issue of political interference in scientific communication; a process that he warns is “in direct opposition to the most fundamental precepts of science.”
Dr. Hansen earned a doctorate degree in physics from the University of Iowa. Prior to his present position, he was Manager of GISS and was elected to the National Academies of Science in 1995. Dr. Hansen has received several awards, including the Heinz Award in the Environment and the Leo Szilard Award from the American Physical Society for Outstanding Promotion and Use of Physics for the Benefit of Society.