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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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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1733. Michale
Quoting JFLORIDA:



Haha so you believe in a limitless supply of oil.


So all the petroleum scientists are wrong too.


I was actually referring to the "thermonuclear conflagrations"... :D

But please, don't let me interrupt your praying to your AGW god... :D

Although, last time I read, he was being questioned by the Portland PB... :D

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1730. IKE
Quoting Diplomacy:


Was this really necessary? You're disrupting the ongoing GW disputes, Ike, LOL, :). J/K.


I just scroll past those posts.

Had to bring the blog back to some sense of reality.
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My City's Soundings:



All I know is that this means its really moist.
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Robert Redford
Actor, Director, and Environmental Activist
Posted: July 27, 2010 10:13 AM

It's the Opportunity, Stupid!

A small minority of Senators robbed America of a cleaner, more prosperous future last week. In the middle of the biggest oil disaster in American history, the hottest summer on record, and a war with an oil-rich nation, this group of cynics blocked efforts to pass comprehensive energy and climate legislation. This was the moment brimming with potential for new jobs, a more robust economy and cleaner environment -- this bill would have guided America down a profoundly safer and more productive path.

So therefore, the Senate is left to vote on an anemic energy bill of such remarkably limited scope that it could have been passed during the Bush era.

The elected officials who steered this turnaround have abdicated their responsibility to uphold our nation's best interests, and have shown us, and the world, an America woefully deficient in both leadership and ingenuity.

This was our moment to create two million clean energy jobs here in the United States. This was our moment to outpace China in the clean energy market that will dominate the 21st century. This was our time to slash our oil imports in half. This was our time to confront the perils of climate change, which despite head-in-the sand-denial, is in fact happening.

The American people wanted a home run, not a bunt. A recent CNN poll found that nearly 80 percent of voters believe that reducing oil use and shifting to cleaner energy would make life better for Americans, while a Wall Street Journal poll in June found that an overwhelming majority of people specifically support passing legislation to limit global warming pollution.

Yet a handful of politicians decided they didn't want to represent the will of the people. Given the chance to invest in American jobs and reduce dangerous pollution, they chose instead, to focus on their own interest and self-preservation.

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.

But the GOP wasn't the only force acting on its own behalf. A handful of moderate Democrats were so worried about being tarred by the Tea Party or losing reelection campaigns that they failed to show their support for clean energy and climate legislation -- even those who are on record saying that we must fight global warming. When elected officials act as bystanders to a crisis, they reveal their deep cowardice.

We can't forget that Big Oil and Big Coal reached deep into their pockets to inspire politicians to block climate action. Their undue influence in our nation's politics has once again placed the desires of polluters above the interests of all Americans.

Stronger leadership from the White House could have helped burst through political obstructions. President Obama has certainly done more than any other president to advance clean energy, yet he never seemed to roll up his sleeves, bring lawmakers to the table, and work to rally the American public behind it. If he thought his move earlier this year to approve new offshore oil drilling for the first time in decades would pay off last week in the form of GOP support for this bill, I guess he got his answer.

This is one of the many times when average citizens may be ahead of our leaders. All of us who want to generate jobs, reduce hazardous pollution, and strengthen our nation's security need to make our voices heard. We should praise those senators who represented our best interests and hold accountable those who looked out only for their own.

I remember the last time our nation came this close to embracing clean energy -- back in the late 1970s. I hope my children don't have to wait another 35 years to seize the moment once again, because that moment, that opportunity might not be there.
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Quoting Michale:


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


Your right they do.
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1725. CJ5
Quoting JFLORIDA:



They have not. They have posted nearly everything but. Even one went as far as to imply it was not a "Christan" position to follow the science and the deniers were somehow more godly.

Still nothing but ten year old research fodder and personal attacks.

Disappointing.

It would be better to keep quiet than post misinformation and incorrect innuendo.


First off, the first half of your post is untrue. No one said anything about being a christian being more godly, etc. You may have interpreted it that way but that is not what was said.

Second, I posted several 'creditble" research papers about the topic. You throw them off as "old". Well, the fact is, the CO2 research I posted has not be debunked and though it may be somewhat old, it still debunks the junk science put forth by the UN recently.

It is really hard to prove a negative but there are plenty of people who have shot holes in the AGW theory. That is a fact.

The AGW crowd has the burden of proof. Prove it! How about you post up proof the AGW is a fact. When you do that, then we can talk until then your theory is simply a theory and it has a heck of a lot of holes in it.
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1724. Patrap
..Semper Fidelis
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1721. Michale
Quoting JFLORIDA:

Theres no models or working solutions for climate change other than AGW.


Well, I just simply cannot argue with that kind of faith..

It's like trying to convince religious fanatics that there is no god..

All the logic, facts or rational discourse will not shake their faith..

It's kind of admirable, in a dogmatic sort of way...

I salute your faith..

I simply don't share it...
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I think continually adding CO2 is the only option. I can only hold my breath for like 3 minutes tops =/ I could work on that though ;)
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
12z surface analysis shows that an area of low pressure is associated with the tropical wave near the African coast. Anyone have the link to the Dakar soundings?



You should save this page...Western Africa soundings aren't working right now :\
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1715. Patrap
Quoting Michale:


TRANSLATION: I gots nothing.. :D

Well, at least we got that settled.. :D



You should read my past 250 entries in my blog.

Patrap's wunderblog

Some may beg to differ.

But hey,..your new.

So we will even support your efforts to spar with the Best.

So welcome and strap In.

Cher,..u aint seen nuthing yet.
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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.
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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
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1711. Michale
Quoting Patrap:
What happens when the Oil runs out?

Or when the Thermonuclear conflagrations over the last of it darkens the sky.

Who's gonna model that.


Hard to go to Disneyworld from a scorched UTAH,or Cali.



"THE SKY IS FALLING!!! THE SKY IS FALLIN!!!"
-Chicken Little

:D

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1709. 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
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1708. Michale
Quoting Welling2000:
OK... Everybody!

Please Acknowledge on the blog if you Really Do Think That Continually Adding CO2 to Our Atmosphere is a Good, Smart, and Safe Thing to Do (today and everyday, forever and ever).


You DO realize that plants consume CO2 and release oxygen, right???
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1707. Patrap
What happens when the Oil runs out?

Or when the Thermonuclear conflagrations over the last of it darkens the sky.

Who's gonna model that.


Hard to go to Disneyworld from a scorched UTAH,or Cali.

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1704. Michale
Quoting Patrap:


I dont wanna answer..yer question.

Im above that..easily.


TRANSLATION: I gots nothing.. :D

Well, at least we got that settled.. :D

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Quoting hcubed:


I'll call you and raise with a scientist that has a B.A. in Physics and Mathematics with highest distinction in 1963, an M.S. in Astronomy in 1965 and a Ph.D. in Physics.

If Hansen's degree in Physics makes him credible, why not these Physicists?

100% Correct. I guess anybody can get published.
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a very large tropical wave in the CATL. Although the wave is devoid of any significant convection ,there appears to be some signs of a little moisture trying to creep into the system. somehow i strongly suspect when the wave gets just east of 50W there will be more moisture to work with hence the possibility of cyclogenesis. the upper environment will be conducive for some form of development
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Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:
I am close to wetting my britches. LOL This is the most fun the blog has been in quite some time, when its not tropical.

Yes but it should be on some TV talk show at 0300..
But the original Blog started it...
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Oh, okay gotcha that makes sense. But I don't think the ECMWF and CMC & NOGAPS are showing two separate systems rather the ECMWF develops it later.
Well the NOGAPS goes ballistic developing like 4 systems so I may just throw it out, at least for this run. Before making any calls I'm going to wait for the 12z ECMWF to see if they are separate or the same. But at the moment, the 100 hour discrepancy leads me to believe that they are separate.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
i see people are fox news bashing on a weather blog. i flip through all the news channels and ses a ton of lies and hate being spewed. on cnn I've seen several clips that were not truth telling at all. at least on fox news they invite the liberals to discuss issues and get both sides of the story. the only one i can say on any other station that does that is Anderson cooper. so for the reason of journalist turning into party fundraisers i now do my own research and i have found that our politicians lie and throw the race card for political gain. this is America and what makes it so wonderful is that we don't have to all be the same. we are all of different color,intelligence,and beliefs. if we were all made to think and act and be alike this world and life would suck. we are free to find the truth for our selves. i don't depend on any one person or news source to tell me the truth. i read the bills, and i watch all the clips from all the news stations. i don't down anyone for what they believe. i love the fact that we are free to disagree and still be united in the one thing that makes us the greatest country in the world "FREEDOM".
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OK... Everybody!

Please Acknowledge on the blog if you Really Do Think That Continually Adding CO2 to Our Atmosphere is a Good, Smart, and Safe Thing to Do (today and everyday, forever and ever).
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1695. Patrap
How close am I?? :D


Well if you were Mercury,near Sol..

I'd be Like Alpha Centauri away..or 4.2 Light years.


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Quoting SouthALWX:
SC81, he's trolling.
And as far as 97% .. let me be clear on my own opinion..
I believe in AGW.
I think when you add a greenhouse gas to the atmosphere temperatures go up. What I DONT believe in, is the amount of rise predicted by most on the alarmist side nor do I think action is necessary for this reason. I think it is a sly way to forward the green agenda. Not that a green agenda is bad, but any positive traction through negative means is wrong. You might argue that the ends justify the means and Im sure alot of people do, and that is my point exactly. I also wonder if we did rise say 2C worldwide in 200 years, would it be all that bad?
The AGW theory as it stands is awful. I think we are looking at minuscule warming and that is my opinion ....


Just trying to get him close, so I can stomp on him.
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1693. jpsb
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


What's laughable is bringing up scientists who are commenting about an issue outside their field. It shows the weakness of the denier side that they can't find reputable meteorologists and climatologists to make a case.
I am reminded of the geologists that said the Earth had to be millions if not billions of years old when the astrophysicists all said the Sun was 10,000 years old. Now the age of the Sun was not their field but they could put 2 and 2 together. If the Earth was very very old so was the Sun.
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Quoting JFLORIDA:



They have not. They have posted nearly everything but. Even one went as far as to imply it was not a "Christan" position to follow the science and the deniers were somehow more godly.

Still nothing but ten year old research fodder and personal attacks.

Disappointing.

It would be better to keep quiet than post misinformation and incorrect innuendo.

But you needed an explanation of the ten year old research fodder so how can you be so sure all the more complex adult research fodder pointing to global warming is correct?
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12z surface analysis shows that an area of low pressure is associated with the tropical wave near the African coast. Anyone have the link to the Dakar soundings?

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
SC81, he's trolling.
And as far as 97% .. let me be clear on my own opinion..
I believe in AGW.
I think when you add a greenhouse gas to the atmosphere temperatures go up. What I DONT believe in, is the amount of rise predicted by most on the alarmist side nor do I think action is necessary for this reason. I think it is a sly way to forward the green agenda. Not that a green agenda is bad, but any positive traction through negative means is wrong. You might argue that the ends justify the means and Im sure alot of people do, and that is my point exactly. I also wonder if we did rise say 2C worldwide in 200 years, would it be all that bad?
The AGW theory as it stands is awful. I think we are looking at minuscule warming and that is my opinion ....
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1689. Patrap
Quoting Michale:


Please just answer the question.

Do you believe that scientific info could be credible AND dispute the AGW theory?

A simple YES or NO is all that is required..


Never said I accepted any theory.
You dont observe here much a= or you'd know thats what I do mostly.

..of course they are decided flaws in every theory.

But the body of the work and evidence is in.

Get over that.

Start looking for ways to reduce ones impact daily.

Walk more..drive less.


That aint gonna hurt any Americans..and might save some from Diabetes.


I have a kit kat myself.

I dont wanna answer..yer question.

Im above that..easily.
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1688. CJ5
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


What's laughable is bringing up scientists who are commenting about an issue outside their field. It shows the weakness of the denier side that they can't find reputable meteorologists and climatologists to make a case.


What is even more laughable is going to be your next post to debunk the science and credetials of these scientists. I will give you plenty of time. Have fun!

PS: This is not a complete list but you can just start with these.


Link
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The timing has been inconsistent. Yesterday (12z run) it was at 192 hours, today (00z run) it's at 240 hours. I would like to see it focus on one time-set and see it show good time-line progression. I also would like it to consolidate near 144 hours rather than 240 hours so it can come into agreement with the CMC and NOGAPS.


Oh, okay gotcha that makes sense. But I don't think the ECMWF and CMC & NOGAPS are showing two separate systems rather the ECMWF develops it later.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24193
I am close to wetting my britches. LOL This is the most fun the blog has been in quite some time, when its not tropical.
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Quoting Michale:


Oh.. So, let me see if I got this straight..

It was specified that only meteorologists or climatologists could have pertinent info.

So, information was provide that 76% of meteorologists dispute the AGW theory.

NOW, it's only climatologists whose opinions you will listen to.

Does that about sum things up??

Why not just come out and say it??

The only scientists you will listen to are the ones who support the AGW theory..

Kinda like religion, eh?? Only YOUR religion is pure.. All other religions are heretics...

Well, at least we got it all in the open now..



your fighting a battle you can never win with the people on the other side.
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Quoting extreme236:
The important thing to note about the system the NOGAPS develops is that they aren't all in the SW Caribbean lol
LOL! Finally. It however did develop a system in the SW Caribbean in the beginning of the run.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194

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About

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