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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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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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?


Yep.. I agree with you.. Besides that I am already booked on the mother ship that leaves earth prior to the 2012 thing so Id rather talk about the weather!!!
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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.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:
I have a feeling

that a lot of people will be banned



I'm about to join them.
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1774. 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?
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I have a feeling

that a lot of people will be banned

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1770. jpsb
Quoting JFLORIDA:


Why dont you post a link to one. A single one that works and is cohesive with observed data as current climate theory is.

Why dont you instead of jsut saying the same thing over and over - that it just cant be true.
http://www.tmgnow.com/repository/solar/lassen1.html
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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!


Ya, but one the shuttle blows up and kills 7 people, it doesn't put thousands out of jobs and lively hoods. I've been working for three months straight because of the oil spill and you are going to sit there and say "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..."

Think of how many people are affected and say that again.
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1767. Michale
JFLORIDA, PATRAP,

Just answer me one simple question..

Is it possible that your belief in the AGW theory is wrong??

Again, just a simple YES or NO is all that is required..

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Quoting Patrap:


Jesus split from the Crypt on the 3rd day..



So they want you to believe
Member Since: June 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1390
Quoting StormW:


Der ain't anymore, cause it all leaked into the Gulf.

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!
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Quoting IKE:
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
200 PM EDT TUE JUL 27 2010

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BERG


Quoting DestinJeff:


Thanks IKE!


Yep. So much for the days Ike posting the ecmwf shows nothing for the next 2 weeks.
Member Since: June 2, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1390
1760. angiest
Quoting Michale:


I think it was noted that Hawking is not a climatologist...

Yet HIS opinion is acceptable??

It's like I said.. The ONLY opinions that are acceptable and "credible" are those that agree with the AGW theory..



Yes, that was exactly my point. I know I'm not going to convince anyone here one way or another. A little consistency in the argument would be nice though.
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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...
really? I must have missed, haven't heard that one before..
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1758. Michale
Quoting Patrap:
Im a Catholic in NOLA with Kids in College. I saw God.

She gave the Saints Faith for a Super Bowl Win over Home grown Manning in Miami.

We saw the promised Land,, and crossed over.

And then had Lombardi Gras.

We Lived Hell and High Water.

AGW will come or not.

Ill be Toasting and roasting and observing.

But itsa been a tad crazy down here weather wise for 15 years.

So dont tell no one.

Oil Zilla was a Warning shot across the Bow.

Wait till the Mayans show up Dec 2012.


Were booked out NOON the 20th .


Im lates fer first lunch,...



"One too meenie martoonies"
-Brandon Fraser, BEDAZZLED

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1757. Patrap
Quoting FLdewey:
Jesus must be spinning in his grave


Jesus split from the Crypt on the 3rd day..

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1756. CJ5
Quoting Patrap:


Thats wrong as a Baked Baby.

U mean that Co2 and the Warming caused by its increase isnt the accepted theory today sport..?

That Buz left da station years ago,.

Womp,..wahhhhhhhhhhh

All thats left is the cackle behind the Sound of truth..



Well, sport, that is where you are wrong. My statment is a fact. "Not everyone believes that the earth is actually warming" and "Not everyone believes the CO2 levels are the cause" and certainly "not everyone believes the humans are responsible" Again, there are alot of holes in the GW theory and even more in the AGW theory. The biggest riddle in both is that C02 levels have been much much higher than they are today in periods of history where the earth has been much much cooler.
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1753. Michale
Quoting angiest:


Other people have done so, but since those scientists were not climate specialists their opinions and analysis were not welcome.


I think it was noted that Hawking is not a climatologist...

Yet HIS opinion is acceptable??

It's like I said.. The ONLY opinions that are acceptable and "credible" are those that agree with the AGW theory..

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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
12z NOGAPS showing 3-5 systems through the run. 1 develops in the SW Caribbean prior to the image below. At 144 hours (image below) there is 1 system moving towards the Bahamas and 2 east of the Antilles. A potential system is also in the central Caribbean at 144 hours. A strong tropical wave is also emerging off of Africa.



: ( I have a cruise from Aug 8th to 16...
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6426
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


just add him to the wall of shame (ignore list).
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Quoting thermoclined:
Can't you just through out all the warming stuff and realize we have to cut down on CO2 as to not acidify the oceans.....Seems obvious

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...
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1748. Patrap
Im a Catholic in NOLA with Kids in College. I saw God.

She gave the Saints Faith for a Super Bowl Win over Home grown Manning in Miami.

We saw the promised Land,, and crossed over.

And then had Lombardi Gras.

We Lived Hell and High Water.

AGW will come or not.

Ill be Toasting and roasting and observing.

But itsa been a tad crazy down here weather wise for 15 years.

So dont tell no one.

Oil Zilla was a Warning shot across the Bow.

Wait till the Mayans show up Dec 2012.


Were booked out NOON the 20th .


Im lates fer first lunch,...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1747. Michale
Quoting JFLORIDA:


Why dont you post a link to one. A single one that works and is cohesive with observed data as current climate theory is.

Why dont you instead of jsut saying the same thing over and over - that it just cant be true.


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
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1745. angiest
Quoting claire4385:
Well angiest, if you can come up with a VERY well known scientist that refutes GW, then give me his name. Stephen Hawking has proven time and time again that he knows his stuff. Now, if he was to say that GW is for the birds, I might look into it a little further.


Other people have done so, but since those scientists were not climate specialists their opinions and analysis were not welcome.
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Quoting Michale:


You DO realize that plants consume CO2 and release oxygen, right???


Take your scientific facts else where, this is a weather blog, scientific discussions do not belong here.

Stormtop is the only science I believe in. That and Mr. Wizard.

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Quoting IKE:


I just scroll past those posts.

Had to bring the blog back to some sense of reality.


Ike, I love ya, but this is Dr. Masters blog, and I believe if you scroll up to the top of the page you'll find what's real.
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Quoting Michale:


You DO realize that plants consume CO2 and release oxygen, right???



Yes. Too bad there are less and less plants.

Could that be one reason the "Greenhouse Gases" are increasing -- because the remaining and decreasing plants simply can't process all of the huge amount of these gases?

Remember, if the system goes out of balance, it will right itself, one way or another. But it may not be a balance that is safe for the present types of life on this planet.

Think about it, if you dare. Or ignore it, if you prefer. It's your life, your death, your choice.
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Idk if anyone has seen this yet but http://liveshots.blogs.foxnews.com/2010/07/27/new-leak-found-on-gulf-coast/
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CMC wants to spin something up
Member Since: October 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6426
My little red arrow is getting worn out...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1734. Patrap
I liked Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid..

And hes right.


The Republican Senate leadership has fought against every clean energy and climate measure simply because their political opponents were for it. This was the most shameful partisanship I have seen in my lifetime. We all know who really loses when GOP leaders block progress: American citizens. The economic recession and climate change don't care which party you are in -- they will make life harder for everyone until we put the right solutions in place..
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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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