Dr. James E. Hansen, head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, waits to give a briefing on global warming on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2008.



WASHINGTON -- "We're toast" is how a top NASA scientist describes the dire condition he predicts if the world doesn't get on a "very different path" regarding global warming.

Exactly 20 years after warning America about the phenomenon, James Hansen says the situation is so bad the world's only hope is drastic action.

Hansen has told a U.S. congressional panel the world has long passed the "dangerous level" for greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and needs to get back to 1988 levels.

Funny, back in 1988, they were saying those levels were too high Just pick a number I suppose.


He says Earth's atmosphere can only stay this loaded with man-made carbon dioxide for a couple more decades without changes such as mass extinction, ecosystem collapse and dramatic sea level rises.

Hansen is head of the Goddard Institute of Space Sciences. He's sometimes called the godfather of global warming science.

Apart from driving temperatures up, the tropics will likely receive less rain (orange), while the polar regions will receive more precipitation (green).