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 FLdewey:


AAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaahahahhahaha!!!!

JOTD!


Bubble bath??

lol
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Quoting caneswatch:
Simple, if y'all don't like what fallinstorms is posting, like I am, do what I did and ignore him. The ignore button is there for a reason, use it.
Quoting CybrTeddy:
I think its time to get your blog out again StormW.. fallinstorms might be clueless but sfla should be informed. :P

Again?
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well ike have not looked at the blog for 10 hrs come back on and the same teeny boppers are still on here lol.well they they have to have a chapped behind by now.Ike bob aka weatherguy has a great blog and its adults only.Lord i hope this season slow thank how this blog will be with the predominant group on here now.Shoutout moms and dads get your kids off the computers.
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Quoting clwstmchasr:


Zeppelin, Doors great bands of the past, big U2 for a long time.


great taste.... Yes!
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Quoting BreadandCircuses:


Yes, I agree with Dr. James Hansen and Keith Harnish that depopulation and a return to the pre-industrial age is the only answer. Please I am urging everyone that cares about our fragile ecosystem to join the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement. It is the only way to stop global warming once and for all:

Link



You first.
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Quoting Ossqss:
Did ya ever see the gaps in where the GISS data comes from?

The black region is exactly that. BTW, the area to the lower right is Africa in the first pic.

That is just a small sample of what is manufactured into the models. That data gap is extrapolated to fit the desire and fill the holes.

Just sayin...ya don't hear folks talking about the huge increase in Ice in the Antarctic do ya? or the huge snowfall in S. America recently, or the frigid temps they have been seeing in Australia///

Remember the words CAP AND TRADE folks! Out>>>





Exactly, or the story about 409 people dying in Peru so far this winter due to the extreme cold never-before seen by the people living there.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26661
Quoting KoritheMan:


240 hours seems like far too big a time frame for this wave.

I'm thinking more along the lines of the wave near 35W.


I'm thinking you may be right. Will be interesting to see what it does.. perhaps it interacts with a TUTT low?
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Take a peek at my blog. Also, check out the CIMSS graph, anticyclogenesis is taking place.


Took a look at your web site our you intending to add graph's w/explanations?
anyway the real queastion i have for you may seem amuturish but what is a V signature?
sorry for the spelling not my strong point LOL
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
This guy looks interesting. Its embedded in deep dry, stable air but it could start sputtering off convection once it reaches the Islands. I do believe this is the wave the ECMWF develops in the Caribbean and takes it to a 1000 mb low in the Yucatan by 240 hours.



Check out the large rotation with this wave.


240 hours seems like far too big a time frame for this wave.

I'm thinking more along the lines of the wave near 35W.
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I enjoy Phil Collins personally, does that count as original?
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Quoting MechEngMet:
Well cajun I'm on the Right as well. I don't mind discussions of weather and global temperatures when they are based on science and fact.

But calls to "Go back to the stone age" and calls to "End civilization", "Reduce the population", and "end the industrialized world" are not based in science. They are views based on the radical religion of AGW fanaticism. Those people truly 'believe' what they are saying/hearing (and posting), and no facts based in science will ever alter their beliefs.

The sensible, dignified discussion begins with this post I do believe.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Beck is getting outragously good ratings these days.


Glenn Beck just suffered its worst ratings week of the year
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Quoting jurakantaino

"Talking about a political blog the problem with the "far right" here is that when ever somebody expert or not talk about GW or any issue that had to do with the protection of our emviroment you people go nuts, if you don't like Dr. Master blog and his defence of the emvironment and other issues related to the protection of natural sources, go to conservatgive blog ... this is a weather blog and GW and climate changes affects the weather..simple, hah?"

Ya it is simple, who said I was conservative. Thats my point...simple, HAH!
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Quoting Dr. James Hansen:
"The role of money in our capitals is the biggest problem for democracy and for the planet."
Quoting Dr. James Hansen:
" 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."


Pretty obvious to me that Dr. Hansen is a very intelligent man...... the two statements above are what clue me in personally...... and I agree 100%! If France can run their Country by getting 80% of their electricity from Nuclear Power....... so can we! Add to that, there should be tremendous funding by ALL Countries in the effort to perfect Nuclear Fusion. Nuclear Fusion could eliminate the majority of fossil fuel use, while eliminating virtually all Nuclear waste problems.

No matter what side of the debate you are on..... we should all agree we should do what is reasonable to clean up our Air and Water! I do agree with Dr. Hansen that Nuclear Plants should be built in lieu of Coal plants! But since I was in the Nuclear Navy, I have a very soft spot in my heart for Nuclear Power, and know that it can replace our dependence on Foreign fossil fuels, and it can be done safely!

But we need leadership, and instead, all we have are talking heads!

I do not agree with ALL of Dr. Hansen's work, but I do respect him, and believe he is an honorable man....... we need many more in this Country like him!
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This guy looks interesting. Its embedded in deep dry, stable air but it could start sputtering off convection once it reaches the Islands. I do believe this is the wave the ECMWF develops in the Caribbean and takes it to a 1000 mb low in the Yucatan by 240 hours.



Check out the large rotation with this wave.
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Quoting MechEngMet:
60: Are you proposing the population of the earth be reduced to save the planet for the remaining population?

The mortality rate is already 100%.
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Quoting PensacolaDoug:
Any of you folks here into original music?
Good evening to all. Must define "original music" in a more complete description.
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I'm liking what I'm seeing. High shear over much of the Atlantic and very little potential for development over the next 48 hours....
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Quoting StormW:


Thanks!

Just stating facts.


I know, you are. I live in Palm Beach Co., and keeping two eyes on the Tropics.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:


Like I said, if a anti-cyclone gets going then things might get interesting. However remember 98L? It had a anti-cyclone over it as well, never was able to close off before landfall.
If it would have had an extra day over water it could have easily turned into Bonnie.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting IKE:


Hold tight CybrTeddy, you'll get your death and destruction storms real soon.

I thought they called that tropical mischief.
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Any of you folks here into original music?
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Pynk floyd
ZZ Top
the Who
Yes
Boston
the Doors
Peter Frampton

oh and that list goes on and on....
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Take a peek at my blog. Also, check out the CIMSS graph, anticyclogenesis is taking place.



Like I said, if a anti-cyclone gets going then things might get interesting. However remember 98L? It had a anti-cyclone over it as well, never was able to close off before landfall.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Anyways back to weather. I doubt that the Yucatan disturbance will develop unless a anti-cyclone gets going over it once it gets back over water. These types of storms take for ever to really get going and I doubt it will ever gain a surface circulation before making landfall in Mx. We're in for a quiet week gang, enjoy it as two weeks from now.. it might not be so quiet.
Take a peek at my blog. Also, check out the CIMSS graph, anticyclogenesis is taking place.

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Our first namea are different but the middle and last are the same.
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Anyways back to weather. I doubt that the Yucatan disturbance will develop unless a anti-cyclone gets going over it once it gets back over water. These types of storms take for ever to really get going and I doubt it will ever gain a surface circulation before making landfall in Mx. We're in for a quiet week gang, enjoy it as two weeks from now.. it might not be so quiet.
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XXX
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Evening Storm W!! do you have a link to the MJO site? that lists the graphs u showed in your blog updates?? thanks so much
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Quoting StormW:


Aye!


Storm, that gives you another automatic +1 in my book. Always read your blog, and your recent one with the forecast was beyond excellent.
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I got the same name as Jim Morrison
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Quoting caneswatch:


Since I am also a fan of Led Zeppelin, anyone here a fan of the Doors?


Someone say Jim Morrison.
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My fave band.

My own.
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Darn i need to find an AV of the Bill Monroe band lmao
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Quoting StormW:
IKE,
Haven't had the chance yet...wanted to say, love the Avatar..CLASSIC! One of my favorite bands.

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, JoHn Bonham


Since I am also a fan of Led Zeppelin, anyone here a fan of the Doors?
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Thank you for this blog Dr. Masters. Everyone really does need to be aware of what is going on with our planet. Native villages in Alaska have fallen off into the ocean. In addition, it can easily be seen that much more water was evident only several thousand years ago actually, in that almost the entirety of Texas (absolutely covered with fossils) at one time was a shallow sea. To ignore what is happening would be a terrible mistake, no matter what the causes of the warming, whether man-made, natural, or a combination thereof. It needs to be addressed and if there is anything the world can do together to help then that is a good thing.
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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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