Storms of My Grandchildren by Dr. James Hansen

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 11:34 PM GMT on July 26, 2010

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"Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity" is NASA climate change scientist Dr. James Hansen's first book. Dr. Hansen is arguably the most visible and well-respected climate change scientist in the world, and has headed the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City since 1981. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. Dr. Hansen greatly raised awareness of the threat of global warming during his Congressional testimony during the record hot summer of 1988, and issued one of the first-ever climate model predictions of global warming (see an analysis here to see how his 1988 prediction did.) In 2009, Dr. Hansen was awarded the Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal, the highest honor bestowed by the American Meteorological Society, for his "outstanding contributions to climate modeling, understanding climate change forcings and sensitivity, and for clear communication of climate science in the public arena."

Storms of My Grandchildren focuses on the key concepts of the science of climate change, told through Hansen's personal experiences as a key player in field's scientific advancements and political dramas over the past 40 years. Dr. Hansen's writing style is very straight-forward and understandable, and he clearly explains the scientific concepts involved in a friendly way that anyone with a high school level science education can understand. I did not find any scientific errors in his book. However, some of his explanations are too long-winded, and the book is probably too long, at 274 pages. Nevertheless, Storms of My Grandchildren is a must-read, due to the importance of the subject matter and who is writing it. Hansen is not a fancy writer. He comes across as a plain Iowan who happened to stumble into the field of climate change and discovered things he had to speak out about. And he does plenty of speaking out in his book.

James Hansen vs. Richard Lindzen
Dr. Hansen's book opens with an interesting chapter on his participation in four meetings of Vice President Dick Cheney's cabinet-level Climate Task Force in 2001. It seems that the Bush Administration was prepared to let Dr. Hansen's views on climate change influence policy. However, Dr. Richard Lindzen, whom Hansen describes as "the dean of of global warming contrarians", was also present at the meetings. Dr.Lindzen was able to confuse the task force members enough so that they never took Dr. Hansen's views seriously. Hansen observes that "U.S. policies regarding carbon dioxide during the Bush-Cheney administration seem to have been based on, or at a minimum, congruent with, Lindzen's perspective." Hansen asserts that Lindzen was able to do this by acting more like a lawyer than a scientist: "He and other contrarians tend to act like lawyers defending a client, presenting only arguments that favor their client. This is in direct contradiction to...the scientific method." Hansen also comments that he asked Lindzen what he thought of the link between smoking and cancer, since Lindzen had been a witness for the tobacco industry decades earlier. Lindzen "began rattling off all the problems with the data relating smoking to health problems, which was closely analogous to his views of climate data."

Alarmism
Global warming contrarians often dismiss scientists such a Dr. Hansen as "alarmists" who concoct fearsome stories about climate change in order to get research funding. Dr. Lindzen made this accusation at Cheney's Climate Task Force in 2001. However, Dr. Hansen notes that "in 1981 I lost funding for research on the climate effects of carbon dioxide because the Energy Department was displeased with a paper, 'Climate Impact of Increasing Carbon Dioxide,' I had published in Science magazine. The paper made a number of predictions for the 21st century, including 'opening of the fabled Northwest Passage', which the Energy Department considered to be alarmist but which have since proven to be accurate." If you read Dr. Hansen's book and listen to his lectures, it is clear that he is not an alarmist out to get more research funding by hyping the dangers of global warming. Hansen says in his book that "my basic nature nature is very placid, even comfortably stolid", and that nature comes through very clearly in Storms of My Grandchildren. Hansen's writings express a quiet determination to plainly set forth the scientific truth on climate change. He has surprisingly few angry words towards the politicians, lobbyists, and scientists intent on distorting the scientific truth.

The science of climate change
The bulk of Storms of My Grandchildren is devoted to explanations of the science of climate change. Hansen's greatest concern is disintegration of the gerat ice sheets in Greenland and West Antarctica causing sea level rise: "Once the ice sheets begin to rapidly disintegrate, sea level would be continuously changing for centuries. Coastal cities would become impractical to maintain." Hansen is concerned that evidence from past climate periods show that the massive ice sheets that cover Greenland and Antarctica can melt quickly, with large changes within a century. For example, sea level at the end of the most recent Ice Age, 13,000 - 14,000 years ago, rose at a rate of 3 - 5 meters (10 - 17 feet) per century for several centuries. Hansen is convinced that just a 1.7 -2°C warming, which would likely result if we stabilize CO2 at 450 ppm, would be a "disaster scenario" that would trigger rapid disintegration of the ice sheets and disastrous rises in sea level. Hansen advocates stabilizing CO2 at 350 ppm (we are currently at 390 ppm, with a rate of increase of 2 ppm per year.)

Another of Hansen's main concerns is the extinction of species. He notes that studies of more than 1,000 species of plants, animals, and insects have found an average migration rate towards the poles due to climate warming in the last half of the 20th century to be four miles per decade. "That is not fast enough. During the past thirty years the lines marking the regions in which a given average temperature prevails (isotherms) have been moving poleward at a rate of about thirty-five miles per decade. If greenhouse gases continue to increase at business-as-usual rates, then the rate of isotherm movement will double in this century to at least seventy miles per decade."

Hansen's other main concern is the release of large amounts of methane gas stored in sea-floor sediments in the form of methane hydrates. If ocean temperatures warm according to predictions, the higher temperatures at the sea floor may be enough to destabilize the methane hydrate sediments and release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is a greenhouse gas 20 - 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Solutions to the climate change problem
Dr. Hansen is a controversial figure, since he has stepped outside his field of expertise and become an activist in promoting solutions to the climate change problem. He devotes a chapter called "An Honest, Effective Path" in the book to this. His main theme is that we need to tax fossil fuels using a "fee-and-dividend" approach. All of the tax money collected would be distributed uniformly to the public. This carbon tax would gradually rise, giving people time to adjust their lifestyle, choice of vehicle, home insulation, etc. Those who do better at reducing their fossil fuel use will receive more in the dividend than they will pay in the added costs of the products they buy. The approach is straightforward and does not require a large bureaucracy, but currently has little political support. Hansen is vehemently opposed to the approach that has the most political support, "Cap-and-trade": "Cap-and-trade is what governments and the people in alligator shoes (the lobbyists for special interests) are trying to foist on you. Whoops. As an objective scientist I should delete such personal opinions, to at least flag them. But I am sixty-eight years old, and I am fed up with the way things work in Washington." Hansen also promotes an overlooked type of nuclear power, "fast" reactors with liquid metal coolant that produce far less nuclear waste and are much more efficient than conventional nuclear reactors.

Quotes from the book
"Humanity treads today on a slippery slope. As we continue to pump greenhouse gases into the air, we move onto a steeper, even more slippery incline. We seem oblivious to the danger--unaware how close we may be to a situation in which a catastrophic slip becomes practically unavoidable, a slip where we suddenly lose all control and are pulled into a torrential stream that hurls us over a precipice to our demise."

"In order for a democracy to function well, the public needs to be honestly informed. But the undue influence of special interests and government greenwash pose formidable barriers to a well-informed public. Without a well-informed public, humanity itself and all species on the planet are threatened."

"Of course by 2005 I was well aware that the NASA Office of Public Affairs had become an office of propaganda. In 2004, I learned that NASA press releases related to global warming were sent to the White House, where they were edited to appear less serious or discarded entirely."

"If we let special interests rule, my grandchildren and yours will pay the price."

"The role of money in our capitals is the biggest problem for democracy and for the planet."

"The problem with asking people to pledge to reduce their fossil fuel use is that even if lots of people do, one effect is reduced demand for fossil fuel and thus a lower price--making it easier for someone else to burn...it is necessary for people to reduce their emissions, but it is not sufficient if the government does not adopt policies that cause much of the fossil fuels to be left in the ground permanently."

"I have argued that it is time to 'draw a line in the sand' and demand no new coal plants."

"The present situation is analogous to that faced by Lincoln with slavery and Churchill with Nazism--the time for compromises and appeasement is over."

"Humans are beginning to hammer the climate system with a forcing more than an order of magnitude more powerful than the forcings that nature employed."

"Once ice sheet disintegration begins in earnest, our grandchildren will live the rest of their lives in a chaotic transition period."

"After the ice is gone, would Earth proceed to the Venus syndrome, a runaway greenhouse effect that would destroy all life on the planet, perhaps permanently? While that is difficult to say based on present information, I've come to conclude that if we burn all reserves of oil, gas, and coal, there is a substantial chance we will initiate the runaway greenhouse. If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale, I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty."

"One suggestion I have for now: Support Bill McKibben and his organization 350.org. It is the most effective and responsible leadership in the public struggle for climate justice."

Commentary
James Hansen understands the Earth's climate as well as any person alive, and his concern about where our climate is headed makes Storms of My Grandchildren a must-read for everyone who cares about the world their grandchildren will inherit. Storms of My Grandchildren retails for $16.50 at Amazon.com. Dr. Hansen's web site is http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/.

Jeff Masters

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Thank you Keeper for presenting this graph on the other blog:

http://www.wunderground.com/blog/MiamiHurricanes09/comment.html?entrynum=60#commenttop



Global ACE continues to be at record lows.
Member Since: April 1, 2010 Posts: 9 Comments: 2699
This is why the AGW has become political. Debate now over for me. AGW or no...this video serves to prove my point.

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2280. breald
FLDEWEY, you are being rude.
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2278. breald
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


So what else was on that Bill of Finance Transparency my friend?


That was it my friend.
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Off to hang the tires and enter the fray on Hwy 98. Just so I don't get accused of tossing out a challenge or two and running away, please, if anyone has any comment on anything I've typed here, WUmail me and I will be happy to respond. See y'all tomorrow...
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Quoting breald:

Well the democrats just tried to do that by passing a finance transparency bill but Republicans blocked it. One party is trying to change and the other is blocking the change from happening. The system is broken.

One party is trying to change too much. They're overstepping. And for the record, I wasn't happy with GWB either.


"The radical of one century is the conservative of the next. The radical invents the views. When he has worn them out the conservative adopts them."
Mark Twain - Notebook, 1898

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Anyone interested in talking about the tropics can head over to me blog, it is very active right now...
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Quoting Michale:
James Hansen is a climate activist...

Which completely and utterly negates whatever effectiveness he may or may not have as a climate scientist.

It calls into question every statement he utters about global warming and the climate...

A good scientist must, above ALL else, be objective..

James Hansen is a bad scientist. Period.


And what is ti that you do? What makes you qualified to make that staement? I'm just looking for some idea as to how to take your statements as I donlt know you and I've been reading soem interesting stuff from you...I mean if you're the dean of Sciences at MIT, I need to really pay attention...
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Quoting mikatnight:


Obama didn't make it up either. So what you said is a lie.



No sense of humor...sheesh..You'd laugh if I made a joke about Palin tho, huh?
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Quoting StormW:


Oh..you gotta go to my blog for that.


We're talking quite a bit on Miami's blog.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24044
2270. NEwxguy
Quoting FLdewey:
Holy mother of Janiel.

Smooth transition from Climate Change to straight up politics.


Blame Flood!!
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I most certainly will, StormW. Thanks!
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2268. tkeith
the religion for our time and place is Dudeism.

Of course, nihilists and reactionaries will probably dispute that


smoke em if ya got em...
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Quoting BreadandCircuses:


That is pretty funny!
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2263. Michale
Quoting mikatnight:


Obama didn't make it up either. So what you said is a lie.


Lighten up... I am sure he meant it as a joke..

Damn funny one, too...

Jeeze....
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2261. afj3
Any thoughts on these guys? (I don't know how you guys post maps in here because my computer won't let me right-click and copy and paste)

http://www.ssd.noaa.gov/eumet/eatl/rb-l.jpg
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What happened to all the discussion on the tropics? lol.
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2258. Michale
Quoting WatchingThisOne:


If true (I have not read the book), I think Hansen sets a good example for those assembled here on both sides of the issue ... "a quiet determination to plainly set forth the scientific truth on climate change."


One only has to look at the title of the book to realize that it is NOT true..

Just more fear-mongering..

"Death trains..."

Seriously???
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Quoting breald:

Well the democrats just tried to do that by passing a finance transparency bill but Republicans blocked it. One party is trying to change and the other is blocking the change from happening. The system is broken.

One party is trying to change too much. They're overstepping. And for the record, I wasn't happy with GWB either.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Obama's undisclosed votes. Hope 2012 doesn't end the way 2008 did.


From an independent/moderate point of view, McCain might have actually won if Palin wasn't his running mate. Polls show only around quarter of Americans have a favorable opinion of her.
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Americans are super crazy :)

Instead of debating, you are taught to polarize, instead of being critical, you are taught to deny, instead of arguments, you are taught catchphrases and meaningless colloquialisms.

Science "evolves" in the same way animals, plants and humans do. Sometimes through mistakes, sometimes randomly and sometimes through hard work.

Talk the science, all of it or just a small part in turns and listen to the opponents science, without resorting to personal attacks, saying the same thing over and over and we might get somewhere :)

Otherwise whats the point, not good for anyones blood pressure :)
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:



I didnt make it up. Knock yerself out!


Obama didn't make it up either. So what you said is a lie.
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Quoting NEwxguy:


Sheesh,buddy,you use to be better at avoiding those mine fields,you just walked from one into another one


Yeah, it's like stepping into a steaming pile of dog stuff and while hopping on one foot looking to see how bad you got it, you hop into another one
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2249. Michale
Quoting Floodman:


By your argument, then NONE of the science is any good...peer review is not limited to CC papers, is it? It is used for ALL papers, isn't it? So by your logic, you have no argument either...interesting strategy...I can't wait to see how it turns out


Yep, time will tell won't it? :D
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Quoting Floodman:


gw topic of day


From Dr. Masters' book review: "Hansen's writings express a quiet determination to plainly set forth the scientific truth on climate change. He has surprisingly few angry words towards the politicians, lobbyists, and scientists intent on distorting the scientific truth."

If true (I have not read the book), I think Hansen sets a good example for those assembled here on both sides of the issue ... "a quiet determination to plainly set forth the scientific truth on climate change."
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Quoting breald:



Well the democrats just tried to do that by passing a finance transparency bill but Republicans blocked it. One party is trying to change and the other is blocking the change from happening. The system is broken.
It's called checks and balances and it's been "broken" for 234 years. It's there to keep people like you from shoving your wants on people like me (and vice versa)...
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Quoting Michale:


And, as I have pointed out time and again and no one has disputed, the "peer review" process took a huge credibility hit when it was discovered that Pro AGW (sic) "scientists" decided to rig the peer review process in their favor..


Thank goodness that that didn't happen!


Regardless of all that, if Hansen had all that peer review back-up and he was STILL wrong, then what does THAT tell you about the peer-review process??


I don't know. Hansen would have to be wrong to find out. So far...he's done very well, especially considering how little he was working with in 1988. And he *still* did an excellent job.


Did Hansen predict the record cold temps we have had the last couple years??

Did ANY pro AGW scientist??

No. None did..

Ergo, their predictions ain't worth spit..


Why would a climatologist predict the weather? They are different fields.




You won't find facts by dismissing peer-reviewed literature. That's almost the only place *to* find facts.

AGW isn't a matter of opinion. It is simple physics at its heart.
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Quoting Michale:


And, as I have pointed out time and again and no one has disputed, the "peer review" process took a huge credibility hit when it was discovered that Pro AGW (sic) "scientists" decided to rig the peer review process in their favor..

Peer review means precisely dick... It's like having a seal of approval that you can purchase simply by saying the right words...

Regardless of all that, if Hansen had all that peer review back-up and he was STILL wrong, then what does THAT tell you about the peer-review process??

Did Hansen predict the record cold temps we have had the last couple years??

Did ANY pro AGW scientist??

No. None did..

Ergo, their predictions ain't worth spit..

That's my personal opinion, but I am open-minded enough to change it, should the FACTS warrant it..



By your argument, then NONE of the science is any good...peer review is not limited to CC papers, is it? It is used for ALL papers, isn't it? So by your logic, you have no argument either...interesting strategy...I can't wait to see how it turns out
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Quoting breald:



Well the democrats just tried to do that by passing a finance transparency bill but Republicans blocked it. One party is trying to change and the other is blocking the change from happening. The system is broken.


So what else was on that Bill of Finance Transparency my friend?
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Quoting Michale:


ehehehehehehehehehehehe

Now THAT was funny!! :D

Mind if I borrow the term??

"Undocumented Democrats"

Classic :D



I didnt make it up. Knock yerself out!
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Climate Change Legislation: Obama Reaffirms Support For Comprehensive Bill

JULIE PACE | 07/27/10 02:43 PM |

WASHINGTON — Despite setbacks on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama said Tuesday he still supports the need for broad climate legislation and pledged to keep pushing for it. The White House expressed fresh hope the Senate and House might strike a deal on a sweeping energy plan this year.

Lacking the votes they need in this election year, Senate Democrats have abandoned Obama's goal of a bill that would cap the greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Instead, Democrats hope to pass a narrower measure that responds to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and takes steps to improve energy efficiency.


"I want to emphasize it's only the first step," Obama said in the Rose Garden after a meeting with congressional leaders of both parties. "And I intend to keep pushing for broader reform, including climate legislation."

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs later went further, disputing the notion that a climate bill is dead for the year. He suggested that such a comprehensive bill could be negotiated between House and Senate members once, as the White House hopes, the Senate approves a scaled-back energy bill in the coming days.

Such a bill would then have to be approved by both chambers.

The House voted 219-212 last year for a "cap and trade" plan featuring economic incentives to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, vehicles and other sources. It remains unclear how Democrats could muster the votes in the Senate to get even a version of that bill approved.

Republicans slammed the House bill as a "national energy tax" and jobs killer, arguing that the costs would be passed on to consumers in the form of higher electricity bills and fuel costs that would lead manufacturers to take their factories overseas.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said no Republican senators were willing to vote for the broader energy bill he wanted, leaving Democrats shy of the 60 votes needed to overcome GOP delaying tactics.

Obama also called on Congress to pass legislation that he says will help small businesses grow and hire again.

A measure pending in the Senate would create a new lending fund to help community banks offer loans. Obama urged lawmakers not to block the initiative.

Obama announced during his State of the Union address earlier this year that he planned to hold monthly bipartisan meetings with congressional leaders at the White House. Among those present Monday was House Minority Leader John Boehner, who has ratcheted up his criticism of Obama in recent weeks, accusing the president of stooping to partisan attacks and saying Obama cannot sell his economic plan.

Obama has argued that Boehner and Republicans are trying to advance the same agenda that led the country into the recession.

The president said he urged Senate Republicans to help fill federal judgeship vacancies. He said his nominees have been waiting up to eight months to be confirmed, even though they have received unanimous or nearly unanimous bipartisan support in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

He blamed "some in the minority" for using procedural tactics to delay the votes.

Since he took office, the president has nominated 86 federal judicial candidates, 62 for district courts, 22 at the circuit level and two Supreme Court justices. The Senate has confirmed 37 of those. At this point in his presidency, President George W. Bush had 62 percent of his district court nominees confirmed, while Obama has had 45 percent confirmed.

There are currently 101 current vacancies on the federal bench.

___

Associated Press writer Ben Feller contributed to this story.
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2240. Michale
Quoting PensacolaDoug:
(or as Obama prefers to refer to them, "Undocumented Democrats") across our southern border.


ehehehehehehehehehehehe

Now THAT was funny!! :D

Mind if I borrow the term??

"Undocumented Democrats"

Classic :D
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Quoting TxMarc71:
Twinkster -- I am not being harsh but you CAN NOT come onto a scientific blog and post a conclusion that you have come with on your own that is based based off of hog-wash or your own incorrect interpretation of the facts... thats ignorant at best man.

If you truely think that scientist are basing the GW theory on the last 30 years of satellite data alone, then you are waaaaay off the mark and really should do some more research on your own .. or at the very least read my last post...

Your post reminded of the people that told Columbus that he would sail off of the edge... LOL


you are calling this blog scientific. It is a weather blog mainly focused on the tropics. Many people who do not understand come here to find information. I am posting common sense information that a typical person with no knowledge of the topic can understand. the reason you do not like my post is because you don't agree with my point of view. Don't question my knowledge of the topic. I have done countless hours of research and a paper or two on global warming. My focus is on the political aspect of global warming and how the facts are skewed to make the problem seem worse than it is. Yes the world is warming but compared to what? that is what I want to know and that is what so many other people want to know. The earth is warming based on 10,000 years of ice core data, 30 years of satellite data, or warming overall based on the entire length of earth's history. those are the things we must look at when discussing global warming
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2238. breald
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


LOL I get the same way my friend... Agreed to no leadership in DC... Someone needs to rid of the special interest and start paying these fools like NBA superstars... Then the cream (real leaders) will come out of the woodwork and lead. I mean, I wouldnt want to put my hat in that ring with all of those criminals.... just like I dont want to work at the local county corrections... who in their right mind would think they could go in and clean up all that corruption! Chop it out by getting rid of the under the counter payoffs. They will weed themselves after that.... Then show the money and the folks that want to lead for whats best in the country will show up (dem or Repub) ... Right now its a chicken and egg problem.. but we'll figure it out even if we have to implode a bit to get there....



Well the democrats just tried to do that by passing a finance transparency bill but Republicans blocked it. One party is trying to change and the other is blocking the change from happening. The system is broken.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
FOX says a study by (I didnt catch the name)
shows that Global Warming could trigger a mass migration of illegals aliens (or as Obama prefers to refer to them, "Undocumented Democrats") across our southern border.

More fear-mongering marrying the two issues. Unreal.


Probably a study done by some Fox affiliated organization, similar to how Rasmussen is.
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2236. tkeith
Quoting Tazmanian:
if you want too talk about Tropical weather go overe too MiamiHurricanes09 blog GW stays here
is JFV there?
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2235. Michale
James Hansen is a climate activist...

Which completely and utterly negates whatever effectiveness he may or may not have as a climate scientist.

It calls into question every statement he utters about global warming and the climate...

A good scientist must, above ALL else, be objective..

James Hansen is a bad scientist. Period.
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The wave around 30W is about to develop in this record breaking year of global warming.
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.