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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7234. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54360
Quoting Snowlover123:


Poll:

Next TWO:

Caribbean Wave:
A)0-10%
B)10-20%
C)20-30%
D)30-40%
E)Greater than 40%

90L
A)10-20%
B)20-30%
C)30-40%
D)40-50%
E)Greater than 50%


TBH I don't think they'll change it this TWO.

So I guess A and A for me.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Snowlover123:


lol, you're funny. :)



thank you
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Tazmanian:



E on both storms


lol, you're funny. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Snowlover123:


Poll:

Next TWO:

Caribbean Wave:
A)0-10%
B)10-20%
C)20-30%
D)30-40%
E)Greater than 40%

90L
A)10-20%
B)20-30%
C)30-40%
D)40-50%
E)Greater than 50%



E on both storms
Quoting Snowlover123:


Poll:

Next TWO:

Caribbean Wave:
A)0-10%
B)10-20%
C)20-30%
D)30-40%
E)Greater than 40%

90L
A)10-20%
B)20-30%
C)30-40%
D)40-50%
E)Greater than 50%
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Snowlover123:


Poll:

Next TWO:

Caribbean Wave:
A)0-10%
B)10-20%
C)20-30%
D)30-40%
E)Greater than 40%

90L
A)10-20%
B)20-30%
C)30-40%
D)40-50%
E)Greater than 50%


Caribbean Wave: 10-20%
90L:20-30%
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
7227. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Snowlover123:


OMG... what does the GFDL show?


000
WHXX01 KWBC 291859
CHGHUR
TROPICAL CYCLONE GUIDANCE MESSAGE
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1859 UTC THU JUL 29 2010

DISCLAIMER...NUMERICAL MODELS ARE SUBJECT TO LARGE ERRORS.
PLEASE REFER TO NHC OFFICIAL FORECASTS FOR TROPICAL CYCLONE
AND SUBTROPICAL CYCLONE INFORMATION.

ATLANTIC OBJECTIVE AIDS FOR

DISTURBANCE INVEST (AL902010) 20100729 1800 UTC

...00 HRS... ...12 HRS... ...24 HRS. .. ...36 HRS...
100729 1800 100730 0600 100730 1800 100731 0600

LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON
BAMS 8.5N 30.0W 8.5N 31.1W 8.6N 32.4W 8.9N 33.7W
BAMD 8.5N 30.0W 8.4N 31.3W 8.7N 32.6W 9.2N 33.8W
BAMM 8.5N 30.0W 8.5N 31.2W 8.8N 32.4W 9.3N 33.7W
LBAR 8.5N 30.0W 8.2N 32.5W 8.5N 35.5W 9.1N 38.5W
SHIP 20KTS 25KTS 32KTS 43KTS
DSHP 20KTS 25KTS 32KTS 43KTS

...48 HRS... ...72 HRS... ...96 HRS. .. ..120 HRS...
100731 1800 100801 1800 100802 1800 100803 1800

LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON LAT LON
BAMS 9.2N 35.0W 9.6N 38.4W 11.0N 43.8W 13.9N 51.1W
BAMD 9.9N 35.5W 11.1N 39.6W 12.6N 44.9W 15.1N 50.7W
BAMM 9.8N 35.3W 10.3N 39.3W 11.1N 44.8W 13.2N 51.3W
LBAR 10.1N 41.9W 11.6N 48.4W 12.1N 54.0W 14.4N 57.0W
SHIP 54KTS 72KTS 80KTS 81KTS
DSHP 54KTS 72KTS 80KTS 81KTS

...INITIAL CONDITIONS...
LATCUR = 8.5N LONCUR = 30.0W DIRCUR = 255DEG SPDCUR = 16KT
LATM12 = 9.5N LONM12 = 27.0W DIRM12 = 256DEG SPDM12 = 16KT
LATM24 = 10.0N LONM24 = 23.6W
WNDCUR = 20KT RMAXWD = 90NM WNDM12 = 20KT
CENPRS = 1010MB OUTPRS = 1011MB OUTRAD = 240NM SDEPTH = S
RD34NE = 0NM RD34SE = 0NM RD34SW = 0NM RD34NW = 0NM

$$
NNNN

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54360
Well I hate to say this but "This Blog" is about GW and "Not Tropics"... It has everything to do with Climate Change.
So if someone on here wants to talk about "GW"
then I gess they have that right.... Thats also why I have not been
on here lately because I hate any thing to do with "GW".
I believe it is a cycle that we are in.... But again thats just me....
This Blog starts out with this,"Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity"
so if you want to talk about it go ahead, I will come back when the Blog goes back to "Tropics"...

Taco :o)
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Quoting Weather456:
Just a correction to the blog

cloud tops have warmed


It looks very good, considering it's in its D-MIN phase right now.
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They have a new unit out the Vantage Vue, it's a bit cheaper, and it' all one piece, kinda nice..

Quoting ChillinInTheKeys:
Thank you Storm! From what I've researched, it sounds as if the Davis is the way to go. I really do appreciate your advice.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting ssmate:
The topic was posted three days ago when nothing was going on. Now there's something going on.


And yet Dr. Masters hasn't yet posted another blog. Hmmm...

(On top of which, GW will be "going on" l-o-n-g after every tropical cyclone this year has faded into so many cirrus clouds.)
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
HWRF comes out first followed by the GFDL...in other words the GFDL has yet to come out.


Thanks. :)
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Quoting Snowlover123:


OMG... what does the GFDL show?
HWRF comes out first followed by the GFDL...in other words the GFDL has yet to come out.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Quoting Tazmanian:
all most time for the two


Poll:

Next TWO:

Caribbean Wave:
A)0-10%
B)10-20%
C)20-30%
D)30-40%
E)Greater than 40%

90L
A)10-20%
B)20-30%
C)30-40%
D)40-50%
E)Greater than 50%
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just a correction to the blog

cloud tops have warmed
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Levi32:
HWRF looks a bit too far north to me, as usual.
Agreed.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
plzs go too the nhc and re move the yellow markings from them
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Thanks all for the PWS info. Natures callin' (hunger) Will bbl.
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


OMG... what does the GFDL show?
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all most time for the two
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Quoting zoomiami:
I don't normally get into the who said what on the blog - but several people have made the comment that Pat makes derogatory comments about Florida and/or the Florida bloggers. To my knowledge, I have never seen Pat make such blanket comments. He also goes out of his way to post information that is relevant for many areas, not just his. Hate to see people blamed for something that aren't guilty of.


Zoo, I totally agree with you. He really tries to help everyone he can.
Sheri
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
7207. angiest
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


I live in Tarrant County...The county to the west of Dallas County. Yes, its still dry, b ut some places have been getting heavy rain lately. Pattern change is taking place though, and we'll hit the 100-105 degree range this weekend and next week, with head indicies in the 105-110 degree range.


Heading up to north of Denton for a couple of birthday parties this weekend. Not looking forward to the heat there. :P Of course, we are supposed to get really hot down here over the next few days as well.
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7206. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54360
at this rate this blog is going we may hit 10,000 buy no later then later tonight or firday
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The models are going to be all over the place until this pulls out of the ITCZ and closes a center, then they still will, lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
7202. java162
Quoting Weather456:
Good Evening

Blog Update

Tropical Invest 90L


thought you were dead....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
7201. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54360
7200. ssmate
Quoting Neapolitan:


I did see it, and posted on it. Got a few interesting responses, but folks don't seem to want to talk about ther actual blog topic, I guess. (And please don't pay any attention to those telling you not to talk about GW anymore; it's the Doc's blog, and the Doc brought it up, so it's fair game. They can always skip the commenst they find uninteresting, as I myself do.)
The topic was posted three days ago when nothing was going on. Now there's something going on.
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7199. Skyepony (Mod)
Quoting Dakster:


Weatherplug?


Here's a picture..it's a little computer just for the PWS. Uploads in rapid fire 24/7 on it's own, restarts itself after a power outage. Every few months I dump the data saved on the PWS base to my computer to save it, then plug it back into the Weatherplug. I think they are available to the public now.
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Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:


Says the people of the blog!


I think you're wrong; please see my comment #7187.
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7197. Levi32
HWRF looks a bit too far north to me, as usual.
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Good Evening

Blog Update

Tropical Invest 90L
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The Davis looks doable. Maybe if I install it now Murphys law will bring on a strong 34kt peak wind for the year.
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7194. hahaguy
Quoting zoomiami:
Hi Haha -- long time no see.

Are you getting ready for the storms to start popping?


Hey zoo, I had to take a break from here to regain some of my sanity lol. Yep I'm all ready for the storms to start popping. How about you?
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Quoting Weather456:
Good Evening

Blog Update

Tropical Invest 90L
thanks 456
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90L remains weak=southern antellies,a bit stronger=northern antellies......imo towards southern hispanola coast area...
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7190. Levi32
Quoting Weather456:
Good Evening

Blog Update

Tropical Invest 90L


Evening 456.
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Quoting zoomiami:


No such thing as an ordinary track, the good old days are gone! lol
Quoting zoomiami:


No such thing as an ordinary track, the good old days are gone! lol


No they aren't! Remember Bonnie was in a straight forward steering environment :-b

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Quoting btwntx08:

says us


By "us", I assume you're no longer including the owner/author of the very blog in which you're posting? Yeah, good luck with that; let me know how it works for you... :-)
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HWRF



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Good Evening

Blog Update

Tropical Invest 90L
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Hi Haha -- long time no see.

Are you getting ready for the storms to start popping?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

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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.