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 jpritch:


Four of the seven are deceased. One has been dead for 10 years even, and another for 7. The newest of the peer reviewed articles cited is 17 years old. Not to mention Dyson, one of the three still living, has said AGW is happening, he just doesn't see it as a big deal.


By the way, Dyson rocks! Hooked ever since I read Disturbing the Universe as a kid. I wrote to him once, he wrote back. Still have the letter somewhere. How cool is that for a kid!
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1632. CJ5
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:



None of those are climatologists or meteorologists, Ossqss. So they are not competent to give knowledgeable opinions. Next.


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.

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1631. angiest
Quoting Patrap:

Stephen Hawking & Carl Sagan on Global Warming: The “Hell” of Venus A Valuable Reminder To Take the Increasing Greenhouse Effect on Earth Seriously
July 23, 2010


Some of what Dr. Hawking says is:

“…One of the most serious consequences of our actions is global warming brought about by rising levels of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. The danger is that the temperature increase may become self-sustaining, if it hasn’t done so already. Drought and deforestation are reducing the amount of carbon dioxide recycled into the atmosphere and the warming of the seas may trigger the release of large quantities of carbon dioxide trapped on the ocean floor. In addition the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets will reduce the amount of solar energy reflected back into space and so increase the temperature further. We don’t know where global warming will stop but the worst case scenario is that the earth will become like its sister planet Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees C and rain sulphuric acid. The human race could not survive in those conditions.”


Hawking is not a climatologist. :)
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting Ossqss:
Eminent Physicists Skeptical of AGW Alarm

"Seven Eminent Physicists; Freeman Dyson, Ivar Giaever (Nobel Prize), Robert Laughlin (Nobel Prize), Edward Teller, Frederick Seitz, Robert Jastrow and William Nierenberg, all skeptical of "man-made" global warming (AGW) alarm."

Can you shoot down these credentials?

Now with video's :)


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!!!
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
Quoting claire4385:


The little Ice Age was caused by a volcanic eruption. And we ARE speeding up the natural course of things with all the CO2 and other greenhouse gases; and we can't forget deforestation either.


What caused the Medival Warming Period? SUVs?
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Quoting SavannahStorm:


Thanks, Miami for trying to keep the blog on track.

Someone invited the Peanut Gallery in today.
LOL, no problem. Lots of "peanuts" were on here earlier, lol.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
New nogaps 12z have 3 systems
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Good afternoon Levi! Great update as usual by the way.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12z CMC has a hurricane in the Atlantic at 144 hours. It also has a tropical storm in the Caribbean.





NGP (Hr. 144):

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1623. angiest
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Good afternoon Levi! Great update as usual by the way.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12z CMC has a hurricane in the Atlantic at 144 hours. It also has a tropical storm in the Caribbean.





It also looks to develop a little something off the SE US.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting sailingallover:

Some wealthy people are doing it on there own but right now the Rebates and tax incentives are what is making it pay off in a reasonable rate of time.
www.dsireusa.org
Here in the VI's we have a 50% rebate on the first 2KW of the system then the Fed 30% gives a net refund of about 65% of the system.
Plus we have 5.5 for a insolation factor giving us 5.5 Watt hours per day per watt installed
Plus we pay $.33 per KWH for electricity.
Drops out payback to 3-5 years..

Even with this only relatively wealthy are buying them.. The initial coast is simply still too high. And people are willing to scream about what might happen in 10 years but not put their money where there mouth is...

Overall solar is a good investment if you don't mind a 25year payback period....electric rates only go up..


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.
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Quoting Michale:
Snowlover123

I don't think there's any. The main flaw I can see in AGW is past climate change. THe Medival Warming and Little Ice Age Periods were all driven by natural forces. But suddenly, when humans come, they take the blame. I find that to be at least a little ridiculous.

"a little ridiculous"??

You are too kind.. :D

It's nucking futz, to put a not so fine spin on it.. :D



lol thank you. :)
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1620. Patrap

Stephen Hawking & Carl Sagan on Global Warming: The “Hell” of Venus A Valuable Reminder To Take the Increasing Greenhouse Effect on Earth Seriously
July 23, 2010


Some of what Dr. Hawking says is:

“…One of the most serious consequences of our actions is global warming brought about by rising levels of CO2 from the burning of fossil fuels. The danger is that the temperature increase may become self-sustaining, if it hasn’t done so already. Drought and deforestation are reducing the amount of carbon dioxide recycled into the atmosphere and the warming of the seas may trigger the release of large quantities of carbon dioxide trapped on the ocean floor. In addition the melting of the Arctic and Antarctic ice sheets will reduce the amount of solar energy reflected back into space and so increase the temperature further. We don’t know where global warming will stop but the worst case scenario is that the earth will become like its sister planet Venus, with a temperature of 250 degrees C and rain sulphuric acid. The human race could not survive in those conditions.”
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Good afternoon Levi! Great update as usual by the way.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12z CMC has a hurricane in the Atlantic at 144 hours. It also has a tropical storm in the Caribbean.





Thanks, Miami for trying to keep the blog on track.

Someone invited the Peanut Gallery in today.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1617. Ossqss
Quoting jpritch:


Four of the seven are deceased. One has been dead for 10 years even, and another for 7. The newest of the peer reviewed articles cited is 17 years old. Not to mention Dyson, one of the three still living, has said AGW is happening, he just doesn't see it as a big deal.


How about you document that for us all and not cut and paste? :)
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Quoting Snowlover123:


I don't think there's any. The main flaw I can see in AGW is past climate change. THe Medival Warming and Little Ice Age Periods were all driven by natural forces. But suddenly, when humans come, they take the blame. I find that to be at least a little ridiculous.


The little Ice Age was caused by a volcanic eruption. And we ARE speeding up the natural course of things with all the CO2 and other greenhouse gases; and we can't forget deforestation either.
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So temperatures have flatlined since 2001... yet co2 has gone up...



Even more evidence that Climate Change is simply natural causes.
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Quoting Levi32:


Hey Storm!


Get a room you two.

j/k
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Good afternoon Levi! Great update as usual by the way.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

12z CMC has a hurricane in the Atlantic at 144 hours. It also has a tropical storm in the Caribbean.



Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21091
1611. jpritch
Quoting Ossqss:
Eminent Physicists Skeptical of AGW Alarm

"Seven Eminent Physicists; Freeman Dyson, Ivar Giaever (Nobel Prize), Robert Laughlin (Nobel Prize), Edward Teller, Frederick Seitz, Robert Jastrow and William Nierenberg, all skeptical of "man-made" global warming (AGW) alarm."

Now with video's :)


Four of the seven are deceased. One has been dead for 10 years even, and another for 7. The newest of the peer reviewed articles cited is 17 years old. Not to mention Dyson, one of the three still living, has said AGW is happening, he just doesn't see it as a big deal.
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1607. Michale
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:



None of those are climatologists or meteorologists, Ossqss. So they are not competent to give knowledgeable opinions. Next.


Ahhhh I see...

Now you are qualifying your demand.

First you wanted "credible" scientific info.

NOW you want "credible" reports from people in the climatology field.

Even though many other fields can show errors in the AGW theory.

The field of statistics, for example...

So, in other words, we are back to the fact that you believe that no "credible" scientific information could POSSIBLY dispute the AGW theory..

Ergo, any scientific report that DOES dispute the AGW theory simply can't be credible.

Like I said.. Your's is a self-fulfilling mindset.

In your view, nothing that disputes the AGW is credible, therefore there is no credible evidence to dispute the AGW theory..
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1606. hcubed
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:



None of those are climatologists or meteorologists, Ossqss. So they are not competent to give knowledgeable opinions. Next.


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?
Member Since: May 18, 2007 Posts: 289 Comments: 1639
1605. Patrap
Quoting TampaTom:


Don't forget the Ermines!


I heard that recruit...
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Have a great day everybody! Out for a while.
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1602. Ossqss
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:



None of those are climatologists or meteorologists, Ossqss. So they are not competent to give knowledgeable opinions. Next.


Of course, physics has nothing to do with anything in your mind. It is however the fundamental process behind all of which you tout!

That is truly laughable :)
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Quoting Michale:


No.

In other words, it's going to take me some time to collate all the scientific links that show the flaws in the theory that is AGW...

What's the word/link limit in this blog???


I don't think there's any. The main flaw I can see in AGW is past climate change. THe Medival Warming and Little Ice Age Periods were all driven by natural forces. But suddenly, when humans come, they take the blame. I find that to be at least a little ridiculous.
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Quoting StormW:


Only if they considered themselves a ferret


Don't forget the Ermines!
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1598. Patrap


What's the word/link limit in this blog???



Depends,

..unlimited for some.

50K for FLa..posters I heard.

But I'll look for the Link and quote.



BRB

Wait here.
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Quoting CousinBob:
Hi Jeff,
Steve McIntyre has a article at climateaudit.org/2008/01/16/thoughts-on-hansen-et-al-1988/ that shows the Hansen wasn't really all that close in his predictions. As far as global ice sheets melting, it hasn't since 1979. See Anthony Watts' Sea ice page at
Link You'd expect to see at least some sign in the 1/3 century that we've had observations.

The main problem I have with Hansen is that he has ceased to be a scientist, and has become a zealot.

Bob.


Well, Watts is a mid-market TV weatherman with no college degree and no AMS certification; all he possesses his a now-obsolete AMS "Seal of Approval". On top of that, his "science" has been discredited time and again. And McIntyre is a known denier with decades in the Big Mining industry, and--again--no advanced degrees (though he has published two non peer-reviewed articles). (P.S. - McIntyre has published a number of articles on ClimateAudit.org--but that's his own website, so I don't think that can really count.)

In shirt, neither Watts nor McIntyre are what any objective person would call "respected" atmospheric scientists.

Next!!!
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13461
LMAO dewey!
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1595. Michale
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
1581---in other words, you have nothing.


No.

In other words, it's going to take me some time to collate all the scientific links that show the flaws in the theory that is AGW...

What's the word/link limit in this blog???
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1593. angiest
Quoting THUNDERPR:
new cmc


Nice looking CV storm...
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting Michale:


Of course, I attack your comment.. I firmly believe that it is infinitely better to attack the message, not the messenger..

As for my not posting a link to it???

The sheer volume of links I could post simply boggles the mind..

You might as well ask me to post links to support the hypothesis that water is wet, the sky is blue and ice is cold...

I can probably do it, but I would have to take a moment to acclimate myself to the sheer folly of the task... :D


And this post of yours proves something too...

**poof**
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Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:



None of those are climatologists or meteorologists, Ossqss. So they are not competent to give knowledgeable opinions. Next.


Ah, but you need to study Physics in order to become a meteorologist/climatologist!
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Good Afternoon!

I made a forecast on My Blog for Arctic sea ice. Seems to be coming along nicely.

Another thing just to note is the CFS.



I factored this, and Another Model into my forecast.

Coincidentally, the Arctic looks to be having a brutal winter this winter ahead. Assuming that the CFS is right, where would Jan-Apr. of 2011 end up in Global Temperatures? One of the 5th coldest?

It's interesting to note, and sorry for detracting off of what we're talking about here, but the post that Dr. Masters made wanted me to post this. :)
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1587. NEwxguy
Storm,looking at your comments and Levi's and a few others,it sure looks like August is going to be a wild ride. Remind me to buckle my seat belt when we get into August.
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new cmc

Link
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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.

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