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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1384. angiest
Quoting sailingallover:

Ok wanna buy a solar energy system for your house? I am in the business solar panels st Thomas.
Initial cost installed is about $5 Watt.
Depending on where you live you will get between 2-5 Watt Hours per day out of it.
Lets say 3.
So for you to get a Kilo Watt Hour will take about a year.
If you are paying $.10 per KWH it will take 50 years to pay for itself.
The Fed Gov gives you a 30% tax credit so everyone can pays for $2 per watt of your system but wait we ALL need systems so where does everyone get the $2 per Watt?
You need about 10KW of panels to run your house assuming 30KWH per day usage( go look at your electric bill) so about $50,0000 dollars...
Ready to stop burning oil now? Tax CO2 emmisions and use the money to pay for solar?




Yeah no way will 10kwh/day run air conditioning in the middle of summer...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
1383. MahFL
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Well defined tropical wave near the lesser Antilles. Yet another thing that should be watched as it moves through the Caribbean.



The wave will hit 30 knts of shear though, and go poof !
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1382. 7544
wave

by the islands looks good today

carol blob is moving south
Member Since: May 6, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6871
Quoting JFLORIDA:
Um Progster what is the article disputing - the initial CO2 concentrations? Come on you cited it.


you too sailingallover
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1380. Patrap
Quoting LowerCal:
LOL! Regardless of ideology I think everyone has to acknowledge that you are the Grand Poobah of descriptive imagery, Pat.


And I dont insult the dead as well..

But my Friends to the East have no problem with it.


Classy folks.

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this hurricane season going to be wild!

Prepare!
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Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


You must be adopted lmao
Now that's funny...
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Quoting myway:


Seems like some on here are already doing their part. A few are already full of...


lol
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Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


You must be adopted lmao


Zzzziiiiinnnnngg......
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Quoting Patrap:
.... they come out the woodwork like Munchkins after the House landed.
LOL! Regardless of ideology I think everyone has to acknowledge that you are the Grand Poobah of descriptive imagery, Pat.
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Quoting unf97:


Well, if that area of convection off the Carolinas can persist through into tomorrow and detach itself from the frontal zone, there may be an opportunity for something to develop. A BIG maybe though. But, there is an anticyclone in that araea of the Western Atlantic, so we will see what happens the next 12-24 hours.
Yeah there's upper level ridging atop it. Like I was saying earlier, it won't be mentioned by the NHC until it detaches itself and fires some more deep and organized convection.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1373. BFG308
Quoting DestinJeff:


That

Was

Awesome
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Um Progster what is the article disputing - the initial CO2 concentrations? Come on you cited it.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Progster:


Agree..reactions should be science-based and not knee-jerk. But time may be of the essence...

Ok wanna buy a solar energy system for your house? I am in the business solar panels st Thomas.
Initial cost installed is about $5 Watt.
Depending on where you live you will get between 2-5 Watt Hours per day out of it.
Lets say 3.
So for you to get a Kilo Watt Hour will take about a year.
If you are paying $.10 per KWH it will take 50 years to pay for itself.
The Fed Gov gives you a 30% tax credit so everyone can pays for $2 per watt of your system but wait we ALL need systems so where does everyone get the $2 per Watt?
You need about 10KW of panels to run your house assuming 30KWH per day usage( go look at your electric bill) so about $50,0000 dollars...
Ready to stop burning oil now? Tax CO2 emmisions and use the money to pay for solar?


Member Since: Posts: Comments:
This morning I passed a large herd of cattle of were obnoxiously polluting our atmosphere with all that dirty methane... Shame on them!!!!

(rolls eyes)
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Quoting DestinJeff:
That is absolutely hilarious. (Nice "O" face, Mr. Stewart...)
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1368. myway
Quoting fallinstorms:
even when u poop that's adding more harm to the earth


Seems like some on here are already doing their part. A few are already full of...
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breald ive been posting here since 2005 ask ike.Plus i like most of the originals quit posting here due to the joke this blog turned in to.Now we have a blogger that constantly lowerates glenn beck constantly lol.Our society has become so disgusting that we make fun of people that are going blind because we dont agree with political view? Well outside of floodman and ike and a very few others this blog has turned into a farce gooday.
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hehe fallinstorms changes her mind
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Well defined tropical wave near the lesser Antilles. Yet another thing that should be watched as it moves through the Caribbean.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Patrap:
Its the intellectual lazy that concern me the most.

When you give up your thinkage for a party Line of Insanity.

Then insanity rules..


were seeing that inversely today as they come out the woodwork like Munchkins after the House landed.

so you are representing the lollipop gang?
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1363. unf97
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
The upper level environment is favorable for tropical development, let's see if it can take advantage of it.



Well, if that area of convection off the Carolinas can persist through into tomorrow and detach itself from the frontal zone, there may be an opportunity for something to develop. A BIG if though. But, there is an anticyclone in that araea of the Western Atlantic, so we will see what happens the next 12-24 hours.
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1362. Patrap
Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


You must be adopted lmao


Yo my man..

my Father who passed the Day the Current Gulf War started March 21st 2003.

He was a USMC WW-2 Battle of Okinawa Veteran,,a Father of 3 and a American of the Greatest Generation.

U can find him in one of my archived Blog Entries.

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1361. Michale
Quoting DaytonaBeachWatcher:


You must be adopted lmao


Ouch...

"And the ref takes a point away!"
-Jim Carrey, LIAR LIAR

:D heheheehehehehe

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Quoting Hurricanes12:


We need about 5. MH09, do your magic!
LOL, I'll try...
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Doug--

I got anyones back who has any brain at all :)


oh and did we suddenly transcend back to the 70's???
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O_o
Member Since: July 22, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 90
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
We need an invest...NOW!


We need about 5. MH09, do your magic!
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Quoting Progster:


Don't play the man, JFLORIDA. Play the Ball :)


What EXACTLY does the free press article say - Its a jumbled mess. you call that reputable?
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Quoting will45:


from NWS

.SYNOPSIS FOR MID ATLC WATERS...A COLD FRONT NEAR CAPE FEAR WILL
DRIFT S THIS AFTERNOON...STALL AND WEAKEN TONIGHT...THEN
DISSIPATE WED. A HIGH PRES RIDGE WILL BUILD ACROSS THE NRN
WATERS THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT...THEN MOVE E OF THE AREA WED.
ANOTHER COLD FRONT WILL MOVE SE AND APPROACH THE NRN MID ATLC
STATES WED NIGHT...MOVE SE ACROSS THE AREA THU...THEN STALL JUST
S OF THE WATERS FRI. HIGH PRES WILL BUILD IN FROM THE NW LATE
FRI AND SAT.
$$
Ok. Thanks!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
We need an invest...NOW!
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
1353. Ossqss
Howdy, can someone tell me where Steve Goddard is wrong here on the historic GISS data manipulation? How about that smoothing that takes place? Oh, but the Satellites prior to 1980 were pretty good. Next we can discuss how the Sat's are calibrated and their accuracy now vs 1979 :)

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/07/26/giss-swiss-cheese/#more-22599

"Most Arctic stations used in GISTEMP are 1000 km (621 miles) or more away from the North Pole. That is about the distance from Chicago to Atlanta. Again would you use climate records from Atlanta to gauge what is happening in Chicago?

Note the area between Svalbard and the North Pole in the globe below. There is no data in the 250 km 1880-2009 trend map indicating that region has warmed significantly, yet GISS 1200 km 1880-2009 has it warming 2-4° C. Same story for northern Greenland, the Beaufort Sea, etc. There’s a lot of holes in the polar data that has been interpolated."



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Quoting Patrap:
Well Dad used to say,,"if they quoting ya,,ya being heard sport"..


Dad was way cool.


You must be adopted lmao
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1351. will45
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Probably will. Do you have the link?


from NWS

.SYNOPSIS FOR MID ATLC WATERS...A COLD FRONT NEAR CAPE FEAR WILL
DRIFT S THIS AFTERNOON...STALL AND WEAKEN TONIGHT...THEN
DISSIPATE WED. A HIGH PRES RIDGE WILL BUILD ACROSS THE NRN
WATERS THIS AFTERNOON AND TONIGHT...THEN MOVE E OF THE AREA WED.
ANOTHER COLD FRONT WILL MOVE SE AND APPROACH THE NRN MID ATLC
STATES WED NIGHT...MOVE SE ACROSS THE AREA THU...THEN STALL JUST
S OF THE WATERS FRI. HIGH PRES WILL BUILD IN FROM THE NW LATE
FRI AND SAT.
$$
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 994
Quoting Progster:


Don't play the man, JFLORIDA. Play the Ball :)


It still doesn't even dispute that paper. Its just a garbage article.
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1349. Michale
Quoting hcubed:


Well, as the saying goes:

"Having children is Hereditary. If your parents didn't have any children, the odds are you won't either..."


heheheheheh :D

THAT was funny.. :D

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"The only thing worse than ignorance is arrogance"

Albert Einstein

That fits both sides of this "debate"

There are agents provocateurs for both sides of this debate, and while the scientists that are serious about this issue are trying hard to do good work, the fringe elements on both sides are trying to muddy the science produced by the opposition...all that's happening here is that we're reaching a stalemate and we, the people who stand to lose the most, are being pushed out...propagandsits on both sides are getting rivch and we're still no closer to a definitive answer (despite what either side says)
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I totally agree dude I'm sick of hearing about it already. Someone needs to tell al gore to leave the room haha yeah this season is gonna be a long one and florida looks to be the big bullseye this year I'm afraid to say but its true. Hey maybe we will have some global warming hurricanes hahaha
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Quoting JFLORIDA:
So I would like to see one article from a respected scientist verified in observation that disputes the base mechanism for AGW.

One.


30,000 Anti-Global Warming Scientists Can’t Be Wrong
Friday, April 30, 2010

Nature Magazine, the academic journal that introduced the world to X-rays, DNA double helix, wave nature of particles, pulsars, and more recently the human genome, is set to publish a paper in June that shows atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is responsible for only 5-10% of observed warming on Earth.

As explained by the paper’s author Professor Jyrki Kauppinen, “The climate is warming, yes, but not because of greenhouse gases.”

For the preeminent scientific journal in the world to publish Kauppinen’s work shows conclusively that Al Gore’s much touted “scientific consensus” supporting human-caused global warming is a myth.
Eco-censors and the global warming hoax

For years scientists have been trying to get out the message past the eco-censors that there are thousands and thousands of them who do not buy into the global warming hoax.

Since 2009 more than 238 physicists including Nobel Prize winner Ivar Giaever and professors from Harvard, MIT, Princeton, UCLA and dozens of other top universities and research institutions have signed an open letter addressed to the Council of the American Physical Society saying the scientific data did not support the conclusion that increased CO2 concentrations are responsible for global warming.

In 2009 over 700 international scientists, including many current and former UN IPCC members, joined with Senator Inhofe in a Senate Minority Report to express their doubts over man-made global warming claims.

In the report U.S. Government Atmospheric Scientist Stanley B. Goldenberg was quoted as saying “It is a blatant lie put forth in the media that makes it seem there is only a fringe of scientists who don’t buy into anthropogenic global warming.”

In the largest effort to date to document global warming dissent in the scientific community, 31,486 Americans with university degrees in science - including 9,029 PhD, 7,157 MS, 2,586 MD and DVM, and 12,714 BS or equivalent - have signed on with the Global Warming Petition Project to state “the human-caused global warming hypothesis is without scientific validity.”

Many of the best and brightest minds in the United States and around the world are in total agreement: The so-called global warming “scientific consensus” is a complete fabrication and does not exist.

*****************************

Hey! Would you like to read the paper, too?!?!?

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I am tired of hearing people say they want to ship us all off to another planet cuz that is a Nazi attitude just like Doug said


I appreciate the backup on that Texas.
I can't help but suspect that some of the people on the left..(far left) would be all to happy to "break a few eggs to make their omlette" if they could get away with it. Some on the far-right as well. Extremism in any form is dangerous to our republic.
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1344. breald
Quoting SAINTHURRIFAN:
folks jf is a troll he only comes on here and posts when gw topic is posted.He is like stormtop he is here to antagonize, and be complete opposite.My dear mother always said instead of arguing with them or taking thier abuse simply just tell them i will pray for you.And maybe masters gets a rise at posting this crap just to see the arguments it will cause lol.If he does it works.


This is the first time I see you posting. Does that make you a troll as well?
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1343. FLdewey
ARIANS!

OH MY GOD... OH MY GOD... OH MY GOD...

LMAO! People who watch Beck with a straight face scare me.
Member Since: August 19, 2008 Posts: 42 Comments: 6269
we will not get a break this year from hurricanes!!!!!!!!!

BP is scared
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1341. Patrap
Well Dad used to say,,"if they quoting ya,,ya being heard sport"..


Dad was way cool.
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folks jf is a troll he only comes on here and posts when gw topic is posted.He is like stormtop he is here to antagonize, and be complete opposite.My dear mother always said instead of arguing with them or taking thier abuse simply just tell them i will pray for you.And maybe masters gets a rise at posting this crap just to see the arguments it will cause lol.If he does it works.
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at 1pm the calm will be gone

the storm is coming
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Quoting Patrap:


..u are a id-it.


LOL.and prove my point easily.

When or where can you quote me on that angle.
Thin fish?

And where is your last entry here?

LOL

very classy, dude
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The upper level environment is favorable for tropical development, let's see if it can take advantage of it.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
LOL, thank you, Dewey.
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1334. hcubed
Quoting Michale:


No offense, more tongue in cheek then anything else.

But just how can people stop having "grandchildren"?? :D



Well, as the saying goes:

"Having children is Hereditary. If your parents didn't have any children, the odds are you won't either..."
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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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