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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4 IKE "GW blog. Atlantic is really heating up!*rolls-eyes*"

If you didn't want a GlobalWarming blog, you'da spotted a blob like you were s'poseta...

Considering the amazingly HOT start we had by midApril in '10 as compared to '05,
25July2005

25July2010

...the SeaSurfaceTemperatures are surprisingly cooler in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. 2010's GulfOfMexico started off cool in comparison to 2005's, and remains so. Which is odd cuz '05 had spun up more surface-cooling TropicalCyclones, which shoulda meant that '10 would have heated up even further.
25July2005

25July2010

And I'd have thought the lack of TC's to mix the depths with the surface waters would have made the 26degree-or-greater layers noticeably deeper in 2010 as compared to 2005.
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Warming is inconvenient, but cold kills:

http://en.trend.az/regions/world/ocountries/1723309.html
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Quoting IKE:


Bang a Gong/Bong...with Elton John on piano.

It would mellow a few out on here. Not a bad thing.
Do you really think it would help Ike?
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ECMWF has dropped the first Caribbean system but still has the one out by the islands.

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Mornin' bloggers!
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879. IKE
Quoting scott39:
I wonder what the "high" patterns look like with that in a tropical season?


Bang a Gong/Bong...with Elton John on piano.
Quoting Neapolitan:


I suppose if the decriminalization of cannabis had one iota of relevance to tropical weather, we might, interesting or not. But since it doesn't...


It would mellow a few out on here. Not a bad thing.
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Quoting mcluvincane:
How bout posting a blog about legalizing marijuana. That's more interesting than GW IMO.


I suppose if the decriminalization of cannabis had one iota of relevance to tropical weather, we might, interesting or not. But since it doesn't...
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877. MTWX
Morning all... StormW, please let us know when your synopsis is complete so we actually have something worth reading. Thanks
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Quoting mcluvincane:
How bout posting a blog about legalizing marijuana. That's more interesting than GW IMO.
I wonder what the "high" patterns look like with that in a tropical season?
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Thank you Storm.Not that I am complaining that they are there.I hate the hot weather,but I will keep the highs to keep storms away.LOL!!!!!!
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Good morning.
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How bout posting a blog about legalizing marijuana. That's more interesting than GW IMO.
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Quoting DestinJeff:


Did someone say chart?

Thanks Jeff, You always post the newest and latest graphs and charts.
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Quoting P451:


I'm sorry to say that the AGW people are very aggressive and refuse to listen to anyone else's ideas. The same can be said for the Y2K and 2012 people. It's the same boat. I'd rather not hop in.....



Conflating Y2K and 2012 are two entirely different things. The former was a definite problem that was recognized early, fixced, and prepared for. It's that preparation that kept it from being a problem; it's disingenuous to now say, "Wow, look at all the money that was wasted; nothing even happened!"

(2012, OTOH, is just a silly construct that's good for a fedw moments of diversion. Not science, but superstition thourhg and through.)
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Quoting Michale:
"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,

If it is difficult to say, then why say it??

It is exactly this kind of doomsday fear-mongering that epitomizes the entire Human Caused Global Warming Yet The Planet Is Cooling religion. And why rational everyday Americans just roll their eyes when confronted by this issue.

Michale


Life has survived times when there were no polar ice caps (which is most of the last half billion years). And, based on what evidence we have, life apparently survived one or more occasions when the earth was completely covered in ice from poll to equator to poll.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting msphar:
good morning, one of the issues not addressed in any thing I have read recently concerning the coming season, is the time factor. We are running out of time for this season to grow to the mega production that so many have predicted. Consider the African wave situation. How many African waves will come into the MDR between now and Nov. 30th? Of those waves, how many will produce ? Get these two numbers right and you could predict the major component of the season.


Don't have info by month, but here is the annual frequency.


Member Since: September 23, 2005 Posts: 14 Comments: 11030
866. SLU
Quoting msphar:
SLU - great numbers! and a good rationale for them!


Thanks!
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 5036
"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,

If it is difficult to say, then why say it??

It is exactly this kind of doomsday fear-mongering that epitomizes the entire Human Caused Global Warming Yet The Planet Is Cooling religion. And why rational everyday Americans just roll their eyes when confronted by this issue.

Michale
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Quoting StormW:


I'll have that in my synopsis. Haven't started analysis right yet. Getting ready to as we speak.
Good morning Storm.How are you today?I am anxiously waiting to read your sypnosis this morning.Storm does it seem that high pressures is dominating the Northern GOM this year?Or is it just a weather pattern that will change in time?TIA
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Quoting LemieT:
Is it just me or are the tropics globally a little too quiet. The oceans are steaming and there is nothing happening. I get the sneaky feeling there will be a huge explosion in activity all of a sudden.
yea, all that heat has to be released soon.
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862. SLU
Quoting cirrocumulus:
SLU: Did you read the tropical discussion this morning? Cyclonic rotation on the 32 degree wave. Still SAl'ed though. However, it does seem as thought it's about time for fireworks season part 2 in August.


This is a wave to watch as it enters the Caribbean. Convection should gradually increase over the next few days as it escapes the stranglehold of the SAL.
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 5036
Is it just me or are the tropics globally a little too quiet. The oceans are steaming and there is nothing happening. I get the sneaky feeling there will be a huge explosion in activity all of a sudden.
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I see we've a lull. If we keep having global warming blogs the hyperactive forecasts for the season may need to be revised.

Have a nice day, everyone.
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Quoting StormW:


I'll have that in my synopsis. Haven't started analysis right yet. Getting ready to as we speak.
thanks
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Quoting Neapolitan:
(Ignore)


Ok, if you say so...
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856. SLU
Quoting stoormfury:
SLU IS IT devaju again. next tueday will be 30 yrs hurricane Allen struck St Lucia



lol ... i actually forgot that.
Member Since: July 13, 2006 Posts: 12 Comments: 5036


LATEST MELTING ICE IMAGE
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Quoting twhcracker:


i feel like its like this, there is a giant f5 tornado coming down the street to wipe out the whole town. but instead of everyone going tornado, run! half the people are going "ts not a real tornado, its a liberal cry baby illusion", and the other half are going "its not a real tornado, its tea party drama" and in the mean time the tornado is wiping the earth to obliteration.


...and there's another group that knows it's only a gentle breeze - and controls the data. Just don't ask them to show how they determined its strength.

"...never let a good crisis go to waste..."
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Quoting William Friedman in the New York Times:


We’ve basically decided to keep pumping greenhouse gases into Mother Nature’s operating system and take our chances that the results will be benign — even though a vast majority of scientists warn that this will not be so. Fasten your seat belts. As the environmentalist Rob Watson likes to say: “Mother Nature is just chemistry, biology and physics. That’s all she is.” You cannot sweet-talk her. You cannot spin her. You cannot tell her that the oil companies say climate change is a hoax. No, Mother Nature is going to do whatever chemistry, biology and physics dictate, and “Mother Nature always bats last, and she always bats 1.000,” says Watson. Do not mess with Mother Nature. But that is just what we’re doing.


My thoughts exactly/ Read the entire op-ed piece here
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Quoting StormW:


And they haven't even touched the tip of the iceberg.


As long as there IS an iceberg, I guess.
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Stormw, Do you expect developement out of the wave at 30W, when it gets closer to the lesser Antillies later this week?
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I guess this is a new angle because the whole climate change agenda has been losing its momentum. Now its about saving humanity. I thought the whole idea was to save the planet. And that man was the problem all along. So logically, we should not want to save humanity, that way the planet can survive. Isn't that what we have been hearing for all these years?
I too am sick of climate change and global warming or whatever always creeping into this blog. Usually occurs when the tropics are quiet. I'll be glad when the discussion gets back to things that really matter, like a storm about to flatten and flood thousands of people.
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NMFC Norfolk Tropical Feed
No Active Tropical Warnings in the Atlantic, Caribbean, or Gulf of Mexico
By Maritime.CDO@navy.mil (NMFC CDO) from Naval Maritime Forecast Center Norfolk Virginia. Published on .

As of Tue 27 Jul 2010 12:15:02Z


2010 Storms
All Active Year


Atlantic

East Pacific

Central Pacific

West Pacific
92W.INVEST
Indian Ocean

Southern Hemisphere
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Quoting alaina1085:

LMAO Im Mcluvin your handle name! Good stuff.

Morning WU bloggers and haters!


Good morning and thanks!
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(Ignore)
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Quoting StormW:


Good morning alaina!

Good Morning Storm.
Of course I have a lot of down time now and NO storms to track... Its always when im busy. Maybe I should get busy so yall have something to track?!? Lol.
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Quoting mcluvincane:
dear Dr Masters, please do away with the GW topic. I am so sick and tired of hearing about stuff that reminds me of Al Gore.


Maybe you're right. Ostriches seem perfectly happy, after all, so maybe there's something to self-imposed ignorance... :-)
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Now this IS inconvenient:

http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=361111&CategoryId=14095
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Just my opinion... I don't really think it's right to base a Global Warming argument on what the weather is like in Argentina this Winter. Or what the S.E USA felt last winter, or how warm it was on any ONE given day.
Think about it.. 1 season (3-4 months) in the entire 4.5 billion year history of the earth...
You have to look at the data as a whole... over years and years.
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Quoting mcluvincane:


And what on hear makes you thing of Dick Cheney. You just mad cause all the Democrats are way down in the polls. Its OK. I'm a tea party member and pray that we get all these far left liberals out if office


dr masters blog talks about cheneys global warming task force. that is what on hear made me thing of him.
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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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