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:
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
1682. Michale
Quoting Patrap:



Do go on..

No..I believe like u.


That when we sleep at night all the Co2 and Methane Pixies and fairies come out and wave their Harry Potter Wands and all that goes away.


POOF!


Then they move along to when it gets dark on the other side while we daily re-pollute our side again.

Dey dont get much rest them Pixie scrubbers and definitely no respect.



I am guessing that you use sarcasm to deflect the fact that you have an impossible position that you are simply incapable of defending with logic and rational discourse..

How close am I?? :D
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The important thing to note about the systems the NOGAPS develop is that they aren't all in the SW Caribbean lol
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Quoting StormChaser81:


If your going to blurt things out, how about backing it up with some information.

Take "the temps are at their coolest! what are you referring to. Pool temp, dirt temp, freezer temp, etc?


Ignore...your the only one talking to her....
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1679. Patrap
Quoting SouthALWX:

alright Pat thats too far ... There are alot of high quality TV personalities out there and many I am friends with ... An attack on them was not necessary.



You obviously have missed the sarcsam flag.

get a frigging grip.

LOL
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1678. Michale
Quoting Patrap:


Dude..I dont kinder to yer FAUX tactics..

Im a realist in the camp that runs with the Obs and Data presented and peer reviewed.

So take a Walk on yer beach.

Or Lead, or follow,,. But just dont bore us to death.



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..
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


It has been on board since 12z yesterday.
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.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1676. Michale
Quoting JFLORIDA:


No climate experts. Theat would be people that actually study climate.


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..

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1675. Patrap
Quoting Michale:


Why not just come out and say it..

Anyone who doesn't believe in the AGW religion is a kook or a moron or possibly both.

That's what you seem to be implying so just confirm your close-mindedness and be done with it...



Dude..I dont kinder to yer FAUX tactics..

Im a realist in the camp that runs with the Obs and Data presented and peer reviewed.

So take a Walk on yer beach.

Or Lead, or follow,,. But just dont bore us to death.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting fallinstorms:
Nothing can survive now

the temps are at their coolest!


If your going to blurt things out, how about backing it up with some information.

Take "the temps are at their coolest! what are you referring to. Pool temp, dirt temp, freezer temp, etc?
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1672. Patrap
Quoting Michale:


So, what you are saying is that, "The science is settled"...

Seriously??? :D



Do go on..

No..I believe like u.


That when we sleep at night all the Co2 and Methane Pixies and fairies come out and wave their Harry Potter Wands and all that goes away.


POOF!


Then they move along to when it gets dark on the other side while we daily re-pollute our side again.

Dey dont get much rest them Pixie scrubbers and definitely no respect.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1671. Michale
Quoting Patrap:
76% of meteorologists think that AGW is not a working theory.

And 90 % freak out and go Like deer in Headlights if the Green Screen Cam Fails.

And all that Hair Spray cant be good for a person too.


Why not just come out and say it..

Anyone who doesn't believe in the AGW religion is a kook or a moron or possibly both.

That's what you seem to be implying so just confirm your close-mindedness and be done with it...

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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yep. Let's see if the big honcho ECMWF jumps aboard.


It has been on board since 12z yesterday.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24167
Quoting Jeff9641:


The NOGAPS yes but the Euro and CMC have constantly been indicating this potential over the last couple of days of a storm moving toward the northern Antilles next week.


GFS was onbaord too a while ago, havent checked the latest.
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Quoting Patrap:
76% of meteorologists think that AGW is not a working theory.

And 90 % freak out and go Like deer in Headlights if the Green Screen Cam Fails.

And all that Hair Spray cant be good for a person too.

alright Pat thats too far ... There are alot of high quality TV personalities out there and many I am friends with ... An attack on them was not necessary.
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Quoting greentortuloni:


Cheers for the answer. I remember when I was in Aruba some guys built a windmill that hooked up mechanically to the compressor of the air-conditioner. It was a beer and boredom project but it seemed a good idea in principle: they just connected it mechanically for a bit and then let the rest of the system work on regular power. Don't ask about it's long term viability since that was never the point for them.

But ever since I've been interested in alternative power. Around here (Italy) solar is going up everywhere. High electricity - but not as high as you. Don't know why since a lot of hte power is hydrodynamic with (at least some of) the base infrastructure from fascist days.

A lot of the european countries have been having huge incentives in Solar and Wind. Espana and DE in particular. DE is so far north that the payback is forever but they have been installing megawatts all over the place.
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Quoting Michale:


So, anyone not in the meteorologic or climatological field is "not credible"..

Well, then I guess the entire of the UN's IPCC is "not credible" since it's headed by an engineer who has less climatological knowledge than *I* do..

You sure you want to go with that argument?? :D


Well, as I'm sure you must know, the IPCC doesn'[t do its own research, nor does it pretend to; instead it publishes the works of respectd and credible climate scientists. So it wouldn't matter if the body were headed by the local dog catcher. Ergo, your point is invalid.

Next!!!
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13549
Quoting Jeff9641:


I've noticed this on most of the models since yesterday as they keep trying to develope a wave before entering the northern antilles.
Yep. Let's see if the big honcho ECMWF jumps aboard.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1660. angiest
Quoting claire4385:
No Angiest, but he is a well respected scientist...he prolly has more knowledge in his big toe than half of us in here.

Look at the temp. difference from the medieval warm period and now...

Link


So it is OK to point out someone's lack of a background in climatology when they are skeptical but not OK when they support AGW?

That was my whole point.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Things are starting to pop up in the models. You have the 850 mb vort level ECMWF showing a pretty potent system approaching the Caribbean, you have the NOGAPS trying to spin up several systems in the Caribbean and in the Atlantic, the CMC is also showing two tropical cyclones developing in the Atlantic and in the Caribbean. Things are starting to line up for development, while the last week of July will be inactive, towards the end of next week and to the second week of August things are really going to start popping in the Atlantic.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24167
1657. Patrap
76% of meteorologists think that AGW is not a working theory.

And 90 % freak out and go Like deer in Headlights if the Green Screen Cam Fails.

And all that Hair Spray cant be good for a person too.
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Quoting Levi32:
♫ Oh shear, oh shear, where have you gone? Oh where, oh where could you be? ♫

Nice easterlies throughout the Caribbean and Atlantic. The TUTT is in God knows where...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
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?

If this is true, Im too lazy to check. +1 If it is ... thats a great response.
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Quoting Jeff9641:


I've noticed this on most of the models since yesterday as they keep trying to develope a wave before entering the northern antilles.


Seems overdone though.
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1653. Michale
Quoting Patrap:


Thats wrong as a Baked Baby.

The Bus on Co2 and the Warming caused by its increase is 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..



So, what you are saying is that, "The science is settled"...

Seriously??? :D
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1651. angiest
Quoting Levi32:
♫ Oh shear, oh shear, where have you gone? Oh where, oh where could you be? ♫



Shhhhh! Stormtop will come back!
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
1650. Michale
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
It's like The Sixth Sense! Ossqss channels dead people!


What's this??

Dead people can't be right??

Poor Einstein.. He must be rolling in his grave...

:D
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:


Except that people keep saying that papers by reputable meteorologists and climatologists exist denying anthropogenic global warming, but no one ever posts any.


You mentioned "meteorologists"

76% of meteorologists think that AGW is not a working theory.



http://sbvor.blogspot.com/2010/01/meterologists-are-rightly-skeptical-on.html
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No Angiest, but he is a well respected scientist...he prolly has more knowledge in his big toe than half of us in here.

Look at the temp. difference from the medieval warm period and now...

Link
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1647. Ossqss
I see you all completely avoided the post earlier asking you to show us where Steve Goddard is wrong here. Typical aversion tactics. Out>>

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/26/giss-swiss-cheese/
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Quoting Jeff9641:


Notice the steering Miami. This high that has been keeping us hot and dry in FL is going to give us fits in Aug thru Oct.
Yep!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Strong wave emerge of africa
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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.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1643. Patrap
Quoting CJ5:


LOL. There are plenty of scientific papers that draw into question the methods used to put forth the theory of AGW. In fact, there are plenty of scientific papers that draw into question the theory of GW, period. You can deny it all you want but the fact remains there is no scientifc consensus, period.



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..

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1642. jpritch
Quoting Ossqss:


How about you document that for us all and not cut and paste? :)


Look at the link you posted. The dates these fellows died are right there, as are the dates of the articles.

As to Dyson's statement about AGW, here you go...
"I will discuss the global warming problem in detail because it is interesting, even though its importance is exaggerated. One of the main causes of warming is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from our burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal and natural gas."
Link
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1641. Levi32
♫ Oh shear, oh shear, where have you gone? Oh where, oh where could you be? ♫

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Quoting Tango01:


I have a strong physics background and Carl Sagan was indeed wrong in about everything related with astrophysics. His simplified analogies that tend to help common people "understand" the universe are mostly wrong and lead to misconceptions. However, although he had degrees both in astronomy and astrophysics his research was for most of his career on planetary science. During his years cosmology and astrophysics experienced important changes in which he was not part of (even discoveries leading to the fact that Einstein was wrong in dismissing important components needed to calculate the cosmological constant). So in practice he moved away from astrophysics to focus on planetary science. As a consequence, most of the cosmological and astrophysical theories he discussed in his books during his career were wrong because he had quite an old perspective on them. Yet, since there are important differences between astrophysics and planetary science so both of your comments are unfair and incorrect. Carl Sagan's contribution to planetary science are undeniable.

Ok I was harsh. Basically i was referring to the way he started politicizing and holding "scientific" Conferences on issues to try to get the public interested/scared at the same time mixing in fiction with the net goal of fame and funding.
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1637. Michale
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
jprich, thanks!

Ossqss do you have a list of credible meteorologists and climatologists who deny anthropogenic global warming that doesn't include long-dead people?


So, anyone not in the meteorologic or climatological field is "not credible"..

Well, then I guess the entire of the UN's IPCC is "not credible" since it's headed by an engineer who has less climatological knowledge than *I* do..

You sure you want to go with that argument?? :D
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A physicist is not much different than a meteorologist and is even closer to a climatologist. While he may not be familiar with teleconnections and things of that nature, he would certainly have a viable opinion on greenhouse gases and thermodynamics in an unbalanced state. Be that on Earth or Venus or in a laboratory. In fact alot of those meteorologists with upper grad degrees were mathematicians and physicists first!
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Quoting Neapolitan:


Dyson: physicist, not climatologist
Giaever: physicist, and member of the Big Oil-funded Heartland Institute
Laughlin: physicist
Teller: physicist, and co-developer of the hydrogen bomb; also heavily involved in miltary-industrial complex organizations
Seitz: physicist; funded in large part by ultra-conservative Marshall Institute and RJK Reynolds Tobacco
Jastrow: physicist; funded in large part by ultra-conservative Marshall Institute
Nierenberg: physicist, and co-developer of the hydrogen bomb; also heavily involved in miltary-industrial complex organizations

Hmmm...not a single atmospheric scientist in the bunch.

Next!!!
'

Neapolitan, please see comment 1591.

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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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