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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Me to ike.I hate this summer ,when you have 20 acres of grass to mow and weedeat,plus the heat and mosquitos its awful.To top it off when i have time which is rare,You can't fish because of the oil.Also ike since the kiddie wishcasters are not up yet lol.the tropics are quiet.You know what i get a hoot at is when the cmc used to spin up something they would call the model crap.Now since thye are so desperate for a storm in this overated season so far its a great model lol, consistency on this blog is like the weather it changes by the minute or to suit the wishes of the bloggers.
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5383. IKE
Quoting sporteguy03:


me too, been in the mid upper 90s here all summer it seems.


6-10 day outlook....8-14 day outlook.....for Florida...above normal temps....below normal precipitation.

***Too much high pressure this summer***
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Quoting Weather456:


isnt a surface trough an area of low pressure?


That's why i dont post much anymore on this blog, ppl dont even take the time to verify information.
Quoting TankHead93:
Are you telling Weather456 he is wrong? that's pretty funny... especially coming from you.
Don't worry Weather456, I got him straight... ;)
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5381. Michale
Quoting MahFL:
Max in St Augustine yesterday,

28 13:58 E 9 10.00 Thunderstorm in Vicinity CLR 91 75 91 81 30.09 1018.9

91 F.


We're southwest of St Augustine. Since St Augustine is right at the water, the temps in St Augustine are generally cooler than our area... Ironically enough, during the winter, it's our temps that are cooler than St Augustine. Last winter, I think it was March, it dropped down to 16.1 here.. I think I have a pic of that as well... :D
Member Since: June 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 100
Quoting MahFL:
456....what area of low pressure ? There is non, zilch, it exists only in your mind.
You are one rude person, and I use the desriptive, person loosely!
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Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MahFL:
456....what area of low pressure ? There is non, zilch, it exists only in your mind.


isnt a surface trough an area of low pressure?


That's why i dont post much anymore on this blog, ppl dont even take the time to verify information.
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5377. Michale
Quoting MahFL:


I seriously doubt that sensor was in the shade.


It was...

The sensor is under the overhang at the front of my house, which faces east. At 1330 hours, the sun was past it's zenith and the area of the sensor was in the shade..

That sensor is as protected from extraneous or radiated heat as any NOAA or NASA temp sensor is. :D
Member Since: June 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 100
Quoting IKE:


I'm so looking forward to fall and cooler weather.


me too, been in the mid upper 90s here all summer it seems.
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Quoting MahFL:
456....what area of low pressure ? There is non, zilch, it exists only in your mind.
Are you telling Weather456 he is wrong? that's pretty funny... especially coming from you.
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5374. IKE
His best song...for your listening pleasure.....Link



Continued Quiet In the Atlantic Basin

Jul 29, 2010 6:47 AM


A large, expansive area of subsidence and drier-than-normal air over the central Atlantic and Caribbean are prolonging a very inactive Atlantic basin. Showers over the eastern Caribbean are associated with a tropical wave near 70 west. Though this area exhibits some structure, increasing southwesterly wind shear associated with an upper-level low centered over the southwest Caribbean will produce less than favorable conditions for development.

Elsewhere, another tropical wave is found near 53 west, mainly south of 18 north. There remains some shower activity with this system and the path ahead is one without substantial shear. This tropical wave will reach the Lesser Antilles Thursday night then move across the central Caribbean this weekend and into the northwest Caribbean early next week. Some computer models continue to show some slow development down the road as the system moves into warmer water. Outside of the two waves there are no features at this point that are showing signs of organization. We expect no tropical development across the Atlantic Basin into the start of the weekend.

By AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Justin Povick

.....................................

But he didn't say...the end of the weekend!
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Regarding the use-all-you-want-it's-my-god-given-right-as-top-of-the-food-chain-theory of human consumption, note on the Pew Site they list successes but not failures, including the 2001 NOAA expedition called "Islands in the Stream" an effort to designate valuable breeding grounds along the GOM protected areas...pretty close to the Horizon spill just 48 miles off the coast of Louisiana.)

LinkLink
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Quoting Weather456:
Good Morning

Blog Update

Watching an area of low pressure in the Eastern Atlantic


Even though the wave is embedded in the ITCZ, would the ITCZ help in tropical organization?

from the almighty wikipedia-
"Tropical cyclogenesis depends upon low-level vorticity as one of its six requirements, and the ITCZ fills this role as it is a zone of wind change and speed, otherwise known as horizontal wind shear. As the ITCZ migrates more than 500 km from the equator during the respective hemisphere's summer season, increasing Coriolis force makes the formation of tropical cyclones within this zone more possible. In the north Atlantic and the northeastern Pacific oceans, tropical waves move along the axis of the ITCZ causing an increase in thunderstorm activity, and under weak vertical wind shear, these clusters of thunderstorms can become tropical cyclones."
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Good Morning

Blog Update

Watching an area of low pressure in the Eastern Atlantic
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5369. MahFL
The wave seems to be doing what they all have done, crash into SA. Why are they going wsw instead of west or wnw ?
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5368. MahFL
Max in St Augustine yesterday,

28 13:58 E 9 10.00 Thunderstorm in Vicinity CLR 91 75 91 81 30.09 1018.9

91 F.
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5367. MahFL
Quoting Michale:


Speaking of hot..

http://mfccfl.us/temp/hottemp.jpg

That was the temp just south of St Augustine, FL at about 1330hrs yesterday with the sensor in the shade. :D



I seriously doubt that sensor was in the shade.
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5366. IKE
Hot In The City...Billy Idol.

75.4 outside my window....right now.

6Z GFS @ 168 hours....one week....

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5365. Michale
Quoting IKE:
Thank goodness for that stiff 5 mph breeze tomorrow or it might be a bit toasty....

Friday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm. Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 99. Heat index values as high as 110. Northwest wind around 5 mph.


Speaking of hot..

http://mfccfl.us/temp/hottemp.jpg

That was the temp just south of St Augustine, FL at about 1330hrs yesterday with the sensor in the shade. :D

Member Since: June 19, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 100
Here is another solution that won't happen due to corporate money aligning with the eat-all-you-want-god-will-make-more crowd.
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morning

the central windward islands are in for some nasty weather today. i expect flash flood watches or even warnings will be posted today for some of the islands with the approach of this tropical wave
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I agree- the way I've always seen it- If your cold, go into a warm room, put on more layers, exercise. If your hot well you can go into a cool room but you'll still be hot for a while, and you can only take off so many layers of clothes, and shade does nothing when you have >70% humidity.
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5359. IKE
Quoting tkeith:
and a new blog...


LOL...heck yes.
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5358. tkeith
Quoting IKE:


I'm so looking forward to fall and cooler weather.
and a new blog...
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5357. IKE
Quoting texwarhawk:


looks like the weather here on sun- except the 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, I remember 2 years ago during high school band practice there would be a nice storm early afternoon everyday that would just raise the humidity and by the time we were out on the parking lot by 3 it would feel more like a sauna. Only year out my whole high school people dropped like flies. gota love houston weather.


I'm so looking forward to fall and cooler weather.
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Quoting IKE:
Thank goodness for that stiff 5 mph breeze tomorrow or it might be a bit toasty....

Friday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm. Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 99. Heat index values as high as 110. Northwest wind around 5 mph.


looks like the weather here on sun- except the 30 percent chance of thunderstorms, I remember 2 years ago during high school band practice there would be a nice storm early afternoon everyday that would just raise the humidity and by the time we were out on the parking lot by 3 it would feel more like a sauna. Only year out my whole high school people dropped like flies. gota love houston weather.
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5355. IKE
Thank goodness for that stiff 5 mph breeze tomorrow or it might be a bit toasty....

Friday: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms after 1pm. Mostly sunny and hot, with a high near 99. Heat index values as high as 110. Northwest wind around 5 mph.
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vorticity strengthening in wave just east of lesser antilles

the wave all the models are forecasting to become a tc has a stronger vorticity then 3hrs ago

Link

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Nature has published a couple of papers proposing that GlobalWarming has caused a 40% reduction in phytoplankton (tiny oceanic plant life) since 1950 due to a decrease in nutrient uplift because surface warming increases water column stratification through a decrease in water column mixing.

M'self, I'd suspect:

1) A LOT of the decrease in nutrient levels and the decrease in water column mixing has to do with overfishing. Those fish being brought inland for consumption useta fertilize those waters with their waste products, and induce half or more of the total water column mixing through their diurnal migrations between water levels, both photic and aphotic.

2) Increased carbon dioxide in the photic zone means plankton have to expend more energy toward building and maintaining their shells. And that energy has to come from the energy that would otherwise be used for growth and reproduction.
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ecmwf ukmet gfs cmc and nogaps are still trying to develop the wave into somthing (anything from td/ts to hurricane)
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Quoting ackee:
thanks when do u think we see tropics active again


Most parameters point to a drastic upswing in activity beginning the second week of August.
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5348. ackee
Quoting KoritheMan:


ITCZ.
thanks when do u think we see tropics active again
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Quoting ackee:
the convection flair up we are seen is AT 8n 39w is that a wave or just the ITCZ


ITCZ.
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5346. ackee
the convection flair up we are seen is AT 8n 39w is that a wave or just the ITCZ
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5281 jlp09550 "Hmm.."


Watching the ITCZ has been kinda like watchin' skeet in slow motion. African launch cleans up pretty by ~25W for a smooth approach toward ~35W, then _BOOM_ ...shards&fragments flyin' all over the place.
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0z GFS, which usually does well with vertical shear forecasts, foresees a more zonal upper flow across the MDR beginning in about 96 hours as a strong upper low develops to the north, near the Azores:

850-200 mb vertical shear - 96 hours:



It almost completely eradicates the current upper-level easterlies being experienced across much of the EATL, replacing them with unfavorable upper-level westerlies.

It will be interesting to see if this trend continues within that model, since it has been forecasting this a couple of days now.

Might end up seeing a season quite like 2005 (not in terms of numbers, mind you, in case anyone reads into that too deeply), where the majority of tropical cyclogenesis occurs closer to home.

850-200 mb vertical shear - 168 hours:



850-200 mb zonal shear - 96 hours:




850-200 mb zonal shear - 168 hours:

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JFlorida! You"re like the "energizer bunny"
of AGW!
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240 hours? lol

Let's try something a little more reasonable.
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5340. xcool
bye rob
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5338. xcool
JUST DNOT TELL JFV HA
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Link
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5336. xcool

HERE WRF

..TO FAR OUT ECMWF
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5334. xcool
WRF TOO
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684

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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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