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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Quoting Michale:


So, it is your contention that NO ONE but a "climate scientist" could possibly be credible??

And yet, who runs the UN's IPCC???

And engineer who knows less about climatology than I do...

So, are you SURE you want to stick with that argument?? :D

Giving you an honorable way out here.. I suggest you take it... :D


I doubt seriously he knows less about Climatology than you...you keep shortchanging yourself
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2030. ncstorm
Where is JFV when you need him..GW..give it a REST!!!!!!!
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2029. Michale
KEEPEROFTHEGATE

"I want to party with you, cowboy!"
-Bill Murray, STRIPES

:D
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Quoting HarleyStormDude52:


If there was something happening it would be because of Global Warming!!!!!


With the recent claims that Global Warming caused the snowstorms, and that Al Gore claimed that the Mid March Nor'Easter is because of Global Warming.

http://www.businessandmedia.org/articles/2010/20100316061540.aspx

My pants are red because of Global Warming. ;)
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All this incessant chat..because of Dr. M's promoting of a book.

Weather please.
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Quoting Michale:


Ex-squeeze me??? Baking powder???

I "blocked" you??? How the hell did I do that??

There is WUMail??? Why wasn't I informed about that?? :D


The subject of that post was JFlorida...you're really not very good at this are you?

By the way, take a few minutes and post some of that data you keep referencing, will you? You see, I'm not a rabid AGW proponent and I'm very interested in seeing what it is you keep talking about...
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OK Bye Bye everyone.
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2021. CJ5
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:



The fact is, and that blog proves,

the blog just proves that someone disbelieves AGW. There is no evidence provided in the blog you linked that supports that conclusion, however.

there is plenty of peer reviewed data to blow holes in the AGW theory.


another unsupported statement you make. If all this peer reviewed data exists, then how come not one person here has linked to it?

You can claim something exists, but without evidence, words are meaningless.

I'm certainly not going to take your word for it. I don't take anybody's word for it.


Sorry, you just lack any credibility and border on the absurd. You have been given several links and both list peer reviewed journals and papers. There is more to the links than blog entires and "wiki". Again, just because you believe it to be fact doesn't make it true.
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2020. Michale
Quoting ACEhigh:


Yeah, because "not being a climate scientists" couldn't possibly be pertinent to the topic at hand...sheesh. To your credit though, you haven't brought up Al Gore in a while, have yet to quote Newsmax as a source (to my knowledge), and seem capable of articulating your invalid points in a more cogent manner than many of your fellow denialists.


So, it is your contention that NO ONE but a "climate scientist" could possibly be credible??

And yet, who runs the UN's IPCC???

And engineer who knows less about climatology than I do...

So, are you SURE you want to stick with that argument?? :D

Giving you an honorable way out here.. I suggest you take it... :D
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Quoting Floodman:


Yeah, he has a hard time dealing with provoateurs like Michale, gets himself worked up, says the wrong thing to the wrong person and out he goes...he blocked me earlier because I got on him in a WUMail about resorting to personal attacks...

So how are you? Haven't seen you in a while!


I guess I missed where he went off. Was gonna send him a WUmail, but when I clicked on him he was gone. Damn, he was doing so well. Oh well, at least you and St. Simons are still here. Oh, I'm doing well thank you!
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2017. BFG308
I don't know what's worse, today or the days where JFV won't quit making new handles after getting banned
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2015. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I'm watching your vid snowlover.


Anyone have any peer-reviewed papers by a respected climatologist or meteorologist denying anthropogenic global warming? Anyone? Anyone?


You're confusing Weather VS. Climate. Meteorologists don't study the climate system, but they're open to their own opinion. But my question is: Why did you even ask if any meteorologists had any published peer reviewed papers, when they don't even study the Climate System?

Thank you.

According to my video, almost a third of meteorologists thought that Global Warming is "a scam."
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2012. Michale
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
I'm watching your vid snowlover.


Anyone have any peer-reviewed papers by a respected climatologist or meteorologist denying anthropogenic global warming? Anyone? Anyone?


It's remarkable how you keep changing criteria so that you don't have to accept the information that has been posted to you.

Don't you find that the LEAST bit.... telling??

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Quoting kuppenskup:
Wow-Came directly to the blog without checking anything in the tropics. Just by reading the first 30 seconds of the blog I can tell there is absolutely nothing out in the tropics worth talking about. Am I correct?


If there was something happening it would be because of Global Warming!!!!!
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Wow-Came directly to the blog without checking anything in the tropics. Just by reading the first 30 seconds of the blog I can tell there is absolutely nothing out in the tropics worth talking about. Am I correct?
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Still waiting for Michale to produce the name of a reputable meteorologist or climatologist who denies anthropogenic global warming. Two hours ago he/she claimed to have hundreds of names. But has provided none. Still dancing and weaving.


John Christy, professor of atmospheric science and director of the Earth System Science Center. Petr Chylek, Space and Remote Sensing Sciences researcher, Los Alamos National Laboratory. Craig D. Idso, faculty researcher, Office of Climatology, Arizona State University. Patrick Michaels, Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. Claude Allègre, geochemist, Institute of Geophysics (Paris). Syun-Ichi Akasofu, retired professor of geophysics and Founding Director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Khabibullo Abdusamatov, mathematician and astronomer at Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Ian Clark, hydrogeologist, professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa. Chris de Freitas, Associate Professor, School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science. William M. Gray, Professor Emeritus and head of The Tropical Meteorology Project. William Kininmonth, meteorologist, former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology. This could go on forever...
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2005. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
2000. xcool
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
1998. jpsb
Quoting hendric:


Go download Clear Climate Code, and re-run the NASA GISS analysis again on your own PC. It will even download the datasets fresh off the FTP servers for you.

And of course AGW accounts for the sun. People much better than you spent their whole lives trying to understand how this planet works. And now because their answers disagree with you, you belittle them. Learn a little humility.

All this jibber-jabber will be resolved in 10 years. Hopefully for my son, it won't be too late to start mitigation.

My opinion is that the warming is actually being understated. Scientists like Hansen are held to a high standard, whether you like it or not, and because of that, they are limited to what they can prove, usually with 95% confidence. Hansen took the gloves off somewhat in this book, but even there he talks about what he can prove with some certainty. My concern is that last 5%.

What if the scientists are all wrong, and the future is much, much worse than they currently predict? What gets me is that deniers always assume scientists are wrong in their favor: What if they are not?
Obama's NASA? The NASA tasked with increasing Muslim self esteem? The NASA directed to get out of the manned space flight business? The NASA that will not fire Hanson in spite of his repeated violations of NASA policy? That NASA, give me a break. NASA has been deballed.

I've been following the AGW debate for almost 10 years and NO they do not (or until recently did not) account for the Sun's energy input into the system (Earth's climate). It was consider a constant. As recently as two years ago, AGW folks argued that the fluctuation in the Sun's output could reliably be ignored. Well the Solar Cycle theory, which fits historical data more correctly the AGW, calls into serious question the wisdom of ignoring Solar energy fluctuations.

I belittle junk science and agenda driven science. At the moment AGW looks a lot like agenda driven science to me, but I am waiting to be convinced, my mind is not closed to the subject however I think global cooling is a far far bigger worry short term. Long term the Earth is going to fry when the Sun goes Red Giant (if not before since the Sun brightens 10% every billion years), nothing we can do about that.
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1997. ACEhigh
Quoting Michale:


Why bother??

No one who disputes the AGW theory would be credible, in your mind.

More than half a dozen people have posted links and your response has been, "Oh he's dead" or "He's not a climate scientist" or "She's too ugly" and bogus excuses like that.

Your responses are eeirly similar to a religious fanatic when confronted with logical and rational explanations for miracles respond with the same type of close-minded scorn.

Please note that I am not saying you are a religious fanatic.. I am merely pointing out the similarity in responses between you and a religious fanatic.

Regardless, you are going to believe what you want to believe, regardless of any facts to the contrary. Ergo, it makes no sense to even try..

Unlikely as it may seem, I DO have better things to do than to try and convince the pope that there is no god. :D

I respect your beliefs and your religion.. I simply don't share it..

We should just leave it at that...


Yeah, because "not being a climate scientists" couldn't possibly be pertinent to the topic at hand...sheesh. To your credit though, you haven't brought up Al Gore in a while, have yet to quote Newsmax as a source (to my knowledge), and seem capable of articulating your invalid points in a more cogent manner than many of your fellow denialists.
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1995. Michale
Quoting Snowlover123:


You asked if there were any credible meteorologists that refuted Global Warming, not if they studied the climate system.


.... Thereby proving that his criteria for "credibility" is simple..

If it disputes the AGW religion, it's not credible...
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Quoting jasoniscoolman2010x:
WOW LOOK AT THIS....



I like it!!!! Is this a result of GW???? (just kidding).. thanks for the graphic!!
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Quoting ElConando:


It could very well be colder than normal. Though I'm not sure top 5 coldest ever, we shall see, but at the same token an equally powerful El nino could do the opposite.


Quite, but that would usually happen with a warm PDO. The PDO s going cold, symbolizing more frequent La Ninas and colder conditions.
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1992. angiest
Dr. Neil Frank, former director of the National Hurricane Center, is a well-known skeptic of AGW. I haven't taken the time to look for any papers he may have authored.
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Quoting Ossqss:


The ultimate religious generalization on over 800 papers. Obvious indoctrination at work. No more from me on this subject. Not worth the keystrokes :)

Just be careful what you ask for. It might not be what you expect, since we have no clue as to what the alternate use of realtime energy will do to us vs the stored energy we use today.

Paper linked in the article and is free.

MIT analysis suggests generating electricity from large-scale wind farms could influence climate and not necessarily in the desired way.


I'm going to use this post to make my point, and I will not say another thing on GW.

Almost none of you in this blog have a clue what you're talking about, nor any idea of how to approach the argument from a valid scientific standpoint. You are 'debating' in the television style, throwing talking points and buzz words from both sides.

Religious indoctrination. The "Hubris" argument, "Trace Gas" argument, "Not scientific fact," and one of the most hilarious, a posting from a guy that has been outed as paid by exxon to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars.

Stop. Learn to make an argument and stop wasting your keystrokes on fallacies and absolute crap coming from people paid by organizations that have a vested interest, EITHER WAY, of saying one thing or another.

Half an hour's googling would make the vast majority of you feel utterly foolish. And I find it sad that the person I quoted didn't even bother to read far enough into the article to find this gem,

"Prinn cautioned against interpreting the study as an argument against wind power, urging that it be used to guide future research that explores the downsides of large-scale wind power before significant resources are invested to build vast wind farms. “We’re not pessimistic about wind,” he said. “We haven’t absolutely proven this effect, and we’d rather see that people do further research.”"

This is how you look stupid on the internets. And I'm rather saddened that people are leaving because you knuckleheads cant deign to stop using the same arguments you preach that 'the other team' is using.

It's not all us vs them, children.
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1990. Michale
Quoting Floodman:


Yeah, he has a hard time dealing with provoateurs like Michale, gets himself worked up, says the wrong thing to the wrong person and out he goes...he blocked me earlier because I got on him in a WUMail about resorting to personal attacks...


Ex-squeeze me??? Baking powder???

I "blocked" you??? How the hell did I do that??

There is WUMail??? Why wasn't I informed about that?? :D
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You know I really wish there was some weather to talk about, this GW CRAP is dumb and some of these people are acting like a dog with a bone, just can't let go of it. If some are so interested in it, go to school for it or something, not everyone wants to hear about it. I myself is sick of it today. This blog is DrM blog and I understand that. But someone find some weather to talk about. Please!!!!!!!
Sheri
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


Joe Bastardi has never published any paper in global warming, and had never taken any coursework in climatology.

Next!


You asked if there were any credible meteorologists that refuted Global Warming, not if they studied the climate system.
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Quoting pilotguy1:


You need help. Poof.


You too...**poof!**
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Quoting ezcColony:


BANNED!


I have not seen anything from him in a while
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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