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 extreme236:


CV storms are storms that develop near the CV islands. (I've heard a 750 mi radius)
620 miles.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


Yup, less "WHO DAT" hot air.


Then you knuckleheads are missing out on one of the most knowledgeable and well-respected members on this blog. A man who in addition to serving his country, has also worked tirelessly to help others affected by disasters and calamities. So, poof! to you too (two).
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Quoting extreme236:


The health care bill was not deemed and passed. That was something that was considered, but they declined to do it that way. Please check your facts.
so it is not law? i think you need to check your facts. it was not passed in congress.here read how the health care bill was really a reconciliation bill Obama to sign health-care bill into law Tuesday
washington post. they voted on reconciliation. read the bills please:)god bless!

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Just remember--Mother nature always balances! Thats why you see a normal line on all the temperature graphs provided as proof by both sides of the argument and climatological norms rule the world of weather forecasting. Perhaps everyone should read Dr Hansen's book with an open mind. I find it interesting that one of his biggest concerns is the rapid melting of the ice sheets and rapid sea level rise. Why? Because it has happened before of course.
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Quoting extreme236:


Looks fairly potent on satellite. Might have some potential to be our first CV storm.
Moisture isn't plentiful for development, but should be watched closely nonetheless.

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Quoting extreme236:


CV storms are storms that develop near the CV islands. (I've heard a 750 mi radius)


I new what it was, but wasn't sure the distance for it to be away from the island to be classified.

Thanx for sharing.
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1825. BDAwx
HOLD UP.
what could it hurt to stop relying to much on fossil fuels for energy?
or to use recycled products?
or to use products that are deemed "green"?

Ok - some are more expensive but seriously? :|

its a win-win situation if we all humored AGW and changed our lifestyles.
1. if AGW never did exist, well hey. at least we kept the planet clean.
2. if it did exist and we reversed it then... WIN!
3. If it did exist and we couldn't reverse it in time at least we tried.
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Quoting StormChaser81:


I thought Alex was a CV storm, it came from that area.


CV storms are storms that develop near the CV islands. (I've heard a 750 mi radius)
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1822. Ossqss
Quoting JFLORIDA:


What - that is someone else - I will take valid arguments from peer reviewed science - so its easy - just find me some of those.


Have fun! I actually paid for many of these that were not free.

800 Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skepticism of "Man-Made" Global Warming (AGW) Alarm

"The following papers support skepticism of AGW or the negative environmental or economic effects of AGW. Addendums, comments, corrections, erratum, replies, responses and submitted papers are not included in the peer-reviewed paper count. These are included as references in defense of various papers. There are many more listings than just the 800 papers. This list will be updated and corrected as necessary."

Question is will this be ignored ?
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Quoting extreme236:


Looks fairly potent on satellite. Might have some potential to be our first CV storm.


I thought Alex was a CV storm, it came from that area.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The NOGAPS appears to develop it and takes it through the Caribbean, but that's because the NOGAPS keeps it weak. A weaker system will go westward, while a stronger system will go poleward. I'll have a blog entry on it tonight, make sure to check it out.


Gotcha, I will. If it's stronger, another one to watch for us, I guess.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Looking at the CMC I would say that the hurricane that develops in the run is the wave that is about to emerge off of the coast of Africa (it's accompanied by an area of low pressure by the way). The area starts developing at around 72 hours and then moves towards the west. As it intensifies it moves poleward (WNW/NW particularity) towards the Greater Antilles. The wave/TD/TS/Hurricane moves slowly throughout the run.

CMC 12z 72 hours.


CMC 12z 144 hours.


Looks like a Florida thre- nope, I'm not gonna do it.
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1818. Patrap
Quoting Michale:


Was that a "YES" you could be wrong??

Or a "NO" you couldn't possibly be wrong??


A Conundrum it is not.


Preparedness is my rule..365 24/7

.."Calamity knows no Borders,only men's minds and maps do"..


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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
LOL. The tropical wave appears to be just off of the African coast. Might seem far out but the CMC starts developing it in 3 days. We'll see...doesn't seem likely that it will go anywhere near the intensity seen on the CMC if dry air stays dominant.


Looks fairly potent on satellite. Might have some potential to be our first CV storm.
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Quoting Michale:


Was that a "YES" you could be wrong??

Or a "NO" you couldn't possibly be wrong??


Michale (I assume you're not the one with the Navy), I would direct you to Mr. Clemmons who said,
"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY too far out.
LOL. The tropical wave appears to be just off of the African coast. Might seem far out but the CMC starts developing it in 3 days. We'll see...doesn't seem likely that it will go anywhere near the intensity seen on the CMC if dry air stays dominant.
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Quoting ElConando:


To add on It took months and months of negotiating and cutting many parts of the bill down in order for it to have enough support in the Senate to pass. The major constituencies against the bill let their voice be heard and their elected officials followed through.


Exactly. I didn't particularly like the bill, but it wasn't nearly as bad as its opponents made it out to be or warned of it being.
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Quoting pilotguy1:
I just poofed Patrap. Gosh this blog is easier to read.


Yup, less "WHO DAT" hot air.
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Quoting extreme236:


The health care bill was not deemed and passed. That was something that was considered, but they declined to do it that way. Please check your facts.


To add on It took months and months of negotiating and cutting many parts of the bill down in order for it to have enough support in the Senate to pass. The major constituencies against the bill let their voice be heard and their elected officials followed through.
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The scary part is.. the Doc probably won't update is blog until like Thursday. We might be stuck with GW till then
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24578
1809. divdog
Quoting sailingallover:

And I can't believe that after all the problem it caused there will be no oil from the well because they are going to close it off...

If we had stopped spaceflight when the first disaster happened we wouldn't have all these great sat pics/loops to argue over!
plug that thing with as much mud and cement as is necessary.
Member Since: August 22, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 755
Quoting caneswatch:


Where do you see it going and where do the models take it?


Somewhere
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Quoting caneswatch:


Where do you see it going and where do the models take it?
The NOGAPS appears to develop it and takes it through the Caribbean, but that's because the NOGAPS keeps it weak. A weaker system will go westward, while a stronger system will go poleward. I'll have a blog entry on it tonight, make sure to check it out.
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Quoting runningfromthestorms:
Quoting sailingallover:

Ahh you missed my post about the fact a large part of the ocean floor being limestone will buffer more carbonic acid than we could possibly ever add to the oceans as calcium bicarboante...

Discover Magazine recently ran an article about how the carbonic acid levels in the South Pacific were becoming so high that the shells on many of the sea creatures were being disolved.......
exactly, this should enough for us to want to cut back our co2 where we can w/o killing the economy
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1804. ncstorm
Well..the blog off the carolina coast might be worth watching..scrolling throught the 1000's posts of GW, I found some revelant posts about it..its been real cloudy all day here in SE NC..
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Looking at the CMC I would say that the hurricane that develops in the run is the wave that is about to emerge off of the coast of Africa (it's accompanied by an area of low pressure by the way). The area starts developing at around 72 hours and then moves towards the west. As it intensifies it moves poleward (WNW/NW particularity) towards the Greater Antilles. The wave/TD/TS/Hurricane moves very slowly throughout the run.

CMC 12z 72 hours.


CMC 12z 144 hours.


Where do you see it going and where do the models take it?
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Quoting sailingallover:

Ahh you missed my post about the fact a large part of the ocean floor being limestone will buffer more carbonic acid than we could possibly ever add to the oceans as calcium bicarboante...

Discover Magazine recently ran an article about how the carbonic acid levels in the South Pacific were becoming so high that the shells on many of the sea creatures were being disolved.......
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1800. Michale
Quoting Patrap:
I believe in the data and the published peer reviewed science on the Matter of Climate Clange.

Im a tad 50'ish so I consider my obs as well.

In the tropical cycle and the MDO as well.

Im not well versed in La Nina and SOI,MJO and the other heat mechanics, my forte is Vortex tracking and radar derived obs near impact.

Limited to obs and rarely other.

So. add z to y and put some Tabasco on it,itsa gonna be warm,,even after a winter of beer.

See.

Analog casting?



Was that a "YES" you could be wrong??

Or a "NO" you couldn't possibly be wrong??
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Out of 200 posts, over 100 of them are over GW.
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Looking at the CMC I would say that the hurricane that develops in the run is the wave that is about to emerge off of the coast of Africa (it's accompanied by an area of low pressure by the way). The area starts developing at around 72 hours and then moves towards the west. As it intensifies it moves poleward (WNW/NW particularity) towards the Greater Antilles. The wave/TD/TS/Hurricane moves slowly throughout the run.

CMC 12z 72 hours.


CMC 12z 144 hours.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Yawn. The contrarians (deniers, that is) keep using the same circular, tired, and baseless arguments as always, and in the same tired stages:

1) There's no proof that global warming is really happening.

2) Okay, it is really happening, but it's not as bad as some think it is.

3) Okay, it is as bad as some think it is...but it's natural, so what's the big deal?

4) Okay, so it's not natural, but the warmth won't really be so bad.

5) Okay, so the warmth really will be bad...but we can't stop it, so why bother doing anything?

6) Okay, so we could probably do something if we really wanted to, but, really, there's no proof that it's really happening...

...And so on, ad infinitum, ad nauseum, world without end, amen.

There are none so blind as those who will not see. Yeesh...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13803
1794. NEwxguy
Quoting ncstorm:
I motion for the sake of GW that all GW discussions be moved to Patrap's blog before this TROPICAL blog explodes and we can get back to the PRESENT and not what the Mayans or Climatologists have doomed us too..

Can I get a second motion?


I second the motion
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1793. Patrap
I got a Guy from Boca over at my Blog setting up some rapid tunes.

On a Turntable
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So how bout those disturbances in the Atlantic Ocean? They about to RI? Any time now?
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1789. Michale
Quoting JFLORIDA:

Thats already been disproven as a cause for current warming - we are even in a period of net solar dimming and the temp went up.


Source???
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Quoting JFLORIDA:


What - that is someone else - I will take valid arguments from peer reviewed science - so its easy - just find me some of those.


Get the feelin' your words are falling on deaf ears?

In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds. In fact, quite the opposite. In a series of studies in 2005 and 2006, researchers at the University of Michigan found that when misinformed people, particularly political partisans, were exposed to corrected facts in news stories, they rarely changed their minds. In fact, they often became even more strongly set in their beliefs. Facts, they found, were not curing misinformation. Like an underpowered antibiotic, facts could actually make misinformation even stronger.
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Quoting sarahjola:
i will fight cap and trade till the day i die so my kids don't have to pay for our ignorance. before you comment try reading the cap and trade bill. i will fight this bill the way it is written. while your reading the cap and trade bill read the health care bill. well that was not even a bill because congress didn't pass it. it was just deemed and passed. both of these things are a extreme infringement on all of our rights. i don't need the govt. to take care of me. i don't want them too. i like choice and freedom too much. like i said before you comment read the bills not the blogs.


The health care bill was not deemed and passed. That was something that was considered, but they declined to do it that way. Please check your facts.
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1786. Patrap
I believe in the data and the published peer reviewed science on the Matter of Climate Clange.

Im a tad 50'ish so I consider my obs as well.

In the tropical cycle and the MDO as well.

Im not well versed in La Nina and SOI,MJO and the other heat mechanics, my forte is Vortex tracking and radar derived obs near impact.

Limited to obs and rarely other.

So. add z to y and put some Tabasco on it,itsa gonna be warm,,even after a winter of beer.

See.

Analog casting?

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1784. Michale
Quoting JFLORIDA:


What - that is someone else - I will take valid arguments from peer reviewed science - so its easy - just find me some of those.


As I mentioned before, the peer review process took a serious credibility hit after ClimateGate..

So, to paraphrase Tommy Lee Jones in MEN IN BLACK:

"Well, let me tell ya something, slick. Right now, (peer reviewed) means precisely dick."

There are plenty of scientific papers from a variety of sources and disciplines that call into question the theory of AGW..

There is a well-known statistician that disputes the process that was used in the AGW theory. Such disputes are just as valid as from any climatologist because, I am sure you will agree, that if the process is flawed, the result can't help but be flawed..

A corollary to the GIGO theory.. :D

As much as you would like it to be, the science is NOT settled...

There has been too many incidents of the process used by AGW activists to be able to be sure that the theory is right..

If you were objective about it, you would see this..

But you are not, so you can't.
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