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 ezcColony:


BANNED!


I have not seen anything from him in a while
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1983. Michale
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


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

Next!


And yet again..

Your only criteria for "credibility" is that it agrees with the AGW theory..

If it doesn't agree with AGW, it's not "credible"...

You sound like Johnny Cochran, "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit"

The fact that Bastardi (gods, that guy must have had a helluva time in High School, eh?! :D) was right is completely irrelevant to you...
Member Since: June 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
1982. xcool
tropical weather, or the topic tropical weather, or the topic
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pilotguy1:


There are no left wing nut jobs on the radio or tv because no one listens to them. Oh yeah, I forgot about Keith Obermann. Oh yeah, that's right according to the ratings, no one listens to him. LOL


I also know Glenn Becks ratings are on the decline, hitting lows for the year. They are both equally nutjobs.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1980. hcubed
Quoting JFLORIDA:

"...the scientific method is the standard for science. It includes the use of careful observation, experimentation, measurement, mathematics, and replication..."

Well, I guess we can throw that one out. Ever get a "credible" and "respected" climate scientist to actually turn over their data so others can check it out?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1979. xcool
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting mikatnight:


One of my favorite Python routines...

Hey, is it just me, or did every single post from JFlorida disappear?


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!
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Quoting mikatnight:
Hey, is it just me, or did every single post from JFlorida disappear?


BANNED!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1976. EtexJC
Damn, is this the Fox News board or are we going to talk about some weather here.....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jeff9641:


Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/noel-sheppard/2009/05/03/ingraham-morano-expose-gores-global-warming-pr ofit-motive#ixzz0uvJGCGiX


Yes, please post more insightful commentary from a comedic right-wing blog run by an ExxonMobil-funded organization. I'm certain that'll really give them liberals what fer...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13537
#2 Ken Reeves.

Reeves is skeptical of Global Warming, as he believes that we are overreacting like we did back in the 60s and 70s about Ice Ages.

Here's a video from Headline Earth that shows meteorologists skeptical on AGW.

http://www.accuweather.com/video/60711178001/meteorologists-still-skeptical-on-global-warming.asp?c hannel=earth
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Snowlover123:
You folks that shout about Climate Models should look at this model, in agreement with the CFS.



Could 2011 rank as one of the top 5 coldest years?

SST



Not to mention, that this has an off the charts La Nina.



The cold PDO could help the La Nina last into 2012, the Apocolypse.



All images come from here:
http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d1/iod/


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.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1968. xcool
CV season is about to begin
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Quoting Floodman:


Best that I can tell, despite any number of requests for links to this evidence you keep touting, you're unable to produce any. Seems pathetic isn't just the perview of the AGW crowd, huh?...oh, I did see something about "gathering and collating the data" but dude, all you've done is troll around looking for someone to argue with...here, try this:



Now THAT'S how you have a pointless argument


One of my favorite Python routines...

Hey, is it just me, or did every single post from JFlorida disappear?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Enjoy the quiet gang.. it wont last.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24035
1963. BFG308
Quoting Jeff9641:

<


That means that AGW doesn't exist?

No, it just means AG is slimy (and part genius).

(I heard he's also serial about manbearpig)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1962. Michale
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.


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...
Member Since: June 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
Not much to report on 12z ECMWF. Dropped Caribbean system, shows a 1009 mb low with some vort in the Caribbean at 192 hours but nothing too serious.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24035
1960. CJ5
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


It's a wikipedia article. Anyone could edit that at any time---no credible information that any of these scientists actually deny global warming. Next.


Obviously reading comprehension is not your strong point. Choose not to read or believe any of the material I gave is your call. To just dismiss lacks credibility.
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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.


I'll start. 1. Joe Bastardi

Joe accurately predicted the snowy winter in the Eastern third of the nation, using his analogs instead of the 'Global Warming' analogs.

He also pretty much owned Bill Nye on Global Warming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AgZU5uvM5Ok

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Quoting donna1960ruled:
All very interesting. Now, what about the tropics? Can we do anything with the disturbance in the GOM, the piece near the Antilles, the wave coming off CV tonight? I need action.



I have been asking that all day!!! I think it is just another example of Global warming!!! Good Luck...
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Quoting Michale:


Don't you see the pattern here??

It would be hysterically funny if it wasn't so pathetically sad....

Why not just come out and say it..

Any scientific information simply cannot be credible if it disputes the AGW religion...

That is how you think...

Ergo, I would have a better chance convincing the pope that there is no god, than I would have convincing you that the AGW theory could be wrong..



Best that I can tell, despite any number of requests for links to this evidence you keep touting, you're unable to produce any. Seems pathetic isn't just the perview of the AGW crowd, huh?...oh, I did see something about "gathering and collating the data" but dude, all you've done is troll around looking for someone to argue with...here, try this:



Now THAT'S how you have a pointless argument
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1950.

I wouldn't listen to Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Limbaugh, or Hannity anymore than I would listen to any far-left radio personality. They are all nutjobs.
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1872. It gets read, maybe not all by the congressman or women in general but it gets read and the info is brought to their attention.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
You folks that shout about Climate Models should look at this model, in agreement with the CFS.



Could 2011 rank as one of the top 5 coldest years?

SST



Not to mention, that this has an off the charts La Nina.



The cold PDO could help the La Nina last into 2012, the Apocolypse.



All images come from here:
http://www.jamstec.go.jp/frcgc/research/d1/iod/
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1947. hcubed
Quoting Michale:


Because you have proven beyond any doubt that you won't LISTEN to any conflicting opinion..

First it had to be meteorologists and climatologist. Then it had to be climatologists only.. And so on and so on and so on..

Like I said, it's like providing a religious fanatic all the evidence that disputes what the bible says.. They can explain it all away.. And, then they can't, they just stick their fingers in their ears and say, "nyaaa nyaaaa nyaaaa"...

You are at the finger/ear stage and it's useless to show you anything..

Ergo, I simply allow you to live in your little world in peace and I will simply go on in reality..

Everyone is happy.. :D


The same thing happens whenever an AGW proponent posts "THE LIST".

You know, the list that shows the "10 independent facts tha MAN caused GW".

Then they don't want to discuss it...
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*Falls asleep on keyboard...has dream about Global Warming*
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Quoting CJ5:


Sorry, you obviously didn't read them. The problem here is it does not matter what one posts or what evidience is thrown your way you are blind.

There is plenty of peer reviewed data that blows holes in AGW. That is a fact.


The term plenty is relative, while the phrase "blows holes in AGW" is more than a little hyperbolic. The vast preponderance of peer-reviewed literature--and a growing percentage of it--supports the theory of AGW where the former is concerned, while questioning details in a theory--part of the scientific method of truth-seeking--isn't about "blowing holes".

Next!!!
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13537
1942. IKE
Quoting Diplomacy:
You know it, Ike. Thanks. Yup, the European model doesn't show much coming up, which is good news, since we are almost into August lol.


Little to nothing on that run.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1940. Michale
Quoting jholmestyle:
Michale, you have every right on this blog to express your views on the science, or lack there of (depending on your view), on AGW. You do not have the right to freely call people names and badger them relentlessly here. Unless you don't mind being put into timeout, I would stick more with facts, and less with calling people fanatics and religious zealots. JMO.


As I said before, I make it a point to attack the message and NOT the messenger..

However, I am only human and, when personal attacks are made, I respond in kind..

Having said that, if I intimated that A or B was a religious fanatic, I apologize..

Allow me to clarify...

The level of devotion to one single flawed theory and the exclusion of all other scientific data that may cast that single flawed theory into doubt is the type of fanaticism that is exhibited by religious fanatics all over the world.

I call 'em as I see 'em.. If it quacks like a fanatic and waddles like a fanatic, it's a safe guess that it IS a fanatic..
Member Since: June 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 98
Isn't William Gray into Global warming? Ok, problem solved.
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Quoting mcluvincane:
I just farted. Will that help cause global warming?


Was that a scientific observation??? Ha.. How is the climate changing around you right now???
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How this for a shocker I remember when there were liberal republicans in the republican party. Please don't confuse today's version with T.Roosevelt, D. Eisenhower, moderates by the way. They would be run out on a rail by Mr. Limbaugh, the Ayatollah of the present day Republicans.
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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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