NASA Climate Expert James Hansen Will Urge UNC to Stop Burning Coal

This upcoming Tuesday, the UNC Beyond Coal Campaign will be hosting a press conference with Dr. James Hansen, NASA's foremost expert on climate change. Dr. Hansen heads NASA's Goddard Institute which predicts atmospheric and climate changes in the 21st Century, he is also an adjunct professor at Columbia University. The press conference comes on the heels of Chancellor Thorpes formation of a new Energy Task Force. That task force is expected to take 6 to 12 months exploring ways to reduce the University's carbon emissions.

Dr. Hansen is expected to warn students,faculty and administrators of the dangers coal poses to the environment and surrounding communities. In a 2008 letter to a number of world leaders including Barack Obama and Gordan Brown, Mr. Hansen called coal, "the single greatest threat to civilization and all life on our planet." In the pre-industrial era carbon dioxide levels in the air were about 280 parts per million(ppm), by burning coal, oil and gas humans have drastically increased this to 385ppm today. If we continue to burn fossil fuels this number will grow by more than 2ppm each year. In that case in less than 50 years all of the worlds glaciers will be gone, species of animals and plants will become extinct as ecosystems are destroyed and the worlds sea levels could rise by nearly 75 meters. These are dangerous statistics that could be devastating for life on earth. Yet there is still hope.

Dr. Hansen predicts that if we stop using coal we could bring carbon dioxide levels down under 350ppm. Universities across the country are taking steps to lead the way, Cornell will go coal free by the end of the year and Duke is cutting its coal consumption by 70%. With the support of concerned citizens UNC can also achieve this goal. Please join us at Tuesday's press conference, and show your support for a coal free campus. Below are the details.

When: TUESDAY, February 2nd, 11:15 am to 11:30 am

Where: In front of UNC's co-generation facility on Cameron Ave., Chapel Hill. Address: 501 W. Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill, NC 27516-2713. Parking is available in visitor spaces at the facility and along Cameron Ave.

Speakers will include: Dr. James Hansen, Director of NASA's climate research center, the Goddard Institute; Patricia Leighton, Chapel Hill resident and neighbor to the plant; Dr. Jose Rial, Glaciologist and Faculty at UNC-CH.

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