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 pottery:

Greetings, Taz!



hi pot
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
5233. pottery
Quoting Tazmanian:
am back and i be on this weekend YAY

Greetings, Taz!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
we may have 90L in the AM
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
Quoting SeaMule:
implicit trust in science is a form of religion, and the blog that Dr. Masters wrote, had nothing to do with hurricanes exactly...it was a book that expressed belief that somehow our future was dependent on man's choices.

i will not make this a debate or religious thing...but it was something I had to comment on. obeying the good scientists ideas is not my hope for the future, and the book leads the reader to believe we have no real chance...and belies the fact that there is a Creator. People nowadays hate to talk about God. The Nazi's were like that...and the Soviet Union....etc. If you don't like to talk or listen about spiritual things....that is your call. But it is not your call to tell others their thoughts must be restricted to what a hurricane might do...when the blog starts with a book stating we are all lost unless mankind does something.....it just isn't the truth. our future is dependent on the Creator. I have a right to that opinion. and having written that...i will desist from that topic...and concentrate

on that huge wave off of Africa....


well said, but i fear He is not happy with us right now.

yes back to the african wave. it still looks good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5230. pottery
Quoting JLPR2:


I actually doubting that now since it existed over Africa.


Lucky I saved this image :P

You thinking it's a wave?
Could be, but the 00z surface analysis does not show it...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
am back and i be on this weekend YAY
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115456
5228. JLPR2
Quoting pottery:

Hi Xcool.
I dont think it is a wave.
ITCZ raincloud...
Looks good though!


I'm actually doubting that now since it existed over Africa.


Lucky I saved this image :P

maybe the NHC will acknowledge a TW or a weak low or something :S
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5227. pottery
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


my son said more business for mr. crabbs...

Sponge bob

heheheheh
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5226. pottery
Quoting Surfcropper:


Ummm... whale sharks with legs?

LOL. Good one!

Hi DDR!
Was in Tobago today. INCREDIBLE clarity in the atmosphere. Flying over the Range, could see all the way down the East coast, clear.
Nice!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
GFS 00z now on board with development. Will be interesting to see what the ECMWF shows.. GFS shows a pretty potent system.

Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24580
5224. xcool
cannot wait tooo see ,new ECMWF
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5223. pottery
Quoting Surfcropper:


We're 896 nuclear power plants too short to do something about it NOW. We should have done more THEN, but politics intervened. Perhaps with Global Warming, NOW is a good time to start what we should have done THEN. Hmmm?

True. Big mistakes have been made (through ignorance, greed, fear etc).
I dont think it is too late to correct those mistakes.
I am all for cleaning up the Planet.
It is nearly impossible though, while we demand the current levels of Comfort and Prosperity that we enjoy.
Pretty sad really.
But there is no Magic Fix.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5221. DDR
Hi pottery
A wet day for us tomorrow! ;D
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:

Ah! But which is the lower life form?
The fact that we can kill the plankton, makes us what ?


my son said more business for mr. crabbs...

Sponge bob
Member Since: July 1, 2005 Posts: 10 Comments: 1683
5219. xcool
pottery hey sir,nice wave ;)
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5218. xcool


500mb


18,000 feet
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5217. pottery
Quoting xcool:



here come waveee

Hi Xcool.
I dont think it is a wave.
ITCZ raincloud...
Looks good though!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting pottery:


!!!!!
Actually, I cannot let this pass without saying......
Some people are prepared for some Miracle to help deal with the problems All People are facing.
Other people are doing what they can, to solve the problems NOW.
God helps those that help themselves. Or so I learned when I was small.
Maybe things have changed?



Well honestly I have to say, this isn't a place for talking about eternal destination, as much as I love my Creator, this is a blog, and a weather blog at that. I occasionally used to post things about the Bible and what God says. However, not everyone shares the same passion for God here, some may find any mention of God disturbing to them, and as much as this saddens me, this is a blog community, that's how its gonna be. We have to share this place with many people consisting of many beliefs. So, lets just keep the focus on a weather, and be at peace.


Ive already received enough perverse WU mail today for cutting down racist comments, PLEASE DO NOT be a coward and talk trash on the internet by sending be obscene email.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5215. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5213. xcool



here come waveee
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Goodnite all!!!!! Hope my O2 mask protects me from the co2...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5210. pottery
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
once the lower life forms disappear we are eventually next

Ah! But which is the lower life form?
The fact that we can kill the plankton, makes us what ?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5209. help4u
Seamule god bless you.Thanks for standing on the truth.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5207. xcool




TopDuji lol
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5206. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting StSimonsIslandGAGuy:
Plankton decline across oceans as waters warm
once the lower life forms disappear we are eventually next
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5205. TopDuji
A forecast . . No more hurricanes until September. I put them in the DujjMobile. Very simple, the DujjMobile is a cross between a TUTT and high shear. The DujjMobile will not return until September.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5204. SeaMule
implicit trust in science is a form of religion, and the blog that Dr. Masters wrote, had nothing to do with hurricanes exactly...it was a book that expressed belief that somehow our future was dependent on man's choices.

i will not make this a debate or religious thing...but it was something I had to comment on. obeying the good scientists ideas is not my hope for the future, and the book leads the reader to believe we have no real chance...and belies the fact that there is a Creator. People nowadays hate to talk about God. The Nazi's were like that...and the Soviet Union....etc. If you don't like to talk or listen about spiritual things....that is your call. But it is not your call to tell others their thoughts must be restricted to what a hurricane might do...when the blog starts with a book stating we are all lost unless mankind does something.....it just isn't the truth. our future is dependent on the Creator. I have a right to that opinion. and having written that...i will desist from that topic...and concentrate

on that huge wave off of Africa....
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5203. pottery

!!!!!
Quoting SeaMule:
after reading Dr Master's comments on the book, here is my take on Earth's future.

We are not alone. I don't for a second believe this earth, this wonderfully created earth...happened by chance.

We don't have to worry about the earth being destroyed by greed or incompetence. Mankind is incapable, and certainly too divided...to collect his thoughts and plans to one benevolent goal. Too many divisive countries, that all try to "get all they can get"....from earth's resources. China will pass the US this year in using fossil fuels. If the fears of CO2 emissions are real....and scientific....then why would government NOT do something? Because it is too divided. with special interest groups...with individual agendas inspired more by self interests and not the public good.....to what end? As I mentioned....that man, left unchecked, would eventually wipe himself off the planet by his own foolishness. Independent minded and self seeking, and full of false pride. So then, the answer? Jer 10:23 says.. "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."
The incoming Kingdom of God, as prophesied in the Bible, will "crush and put an end to all these Kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." Dan 2:44

It will bring global peace and prosperity to all, and treat our home, the earth, as a gift from the Creator.

Actually, I cannot let this pass without saying......
Some people are prepared for some Miracle to help deal with the problems All People are facing.
Other people are doing what they can, to solve the problems NOW.
God helps those that help themselves. Or so I learned when I was small.
Maybe things have changed?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5202. 7544
wow for the ok blob at 30 its exploding lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 7544:
wow for the wave at 30 hmmmm its exploding


Is not a wave as no introduction was made at the 00z surface analysis.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5199. help4u
Best post of day sea mule!
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Surfcropper, it's looking super-fine lol
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5197. pottery
Quoting SeaMule:
after reading Dr Master's comments on the book, here is my take on Earth's future.

We are not alone. I don't for a second believe this earth, this wonderfully created earth...happened by chance.

We don't have to worry about the earth being destroyed by greed or incompetence. Mankind is incapable, and certainly too divided...to collect his thoughts and plans to one benevolent goal. Too many divisive countries, that all try to "get all they can get"....from earth's resources. China will pass the US this year in using fossil fuels. If the fears of CO2 emissions are real....and scientific....then why would government NOT do something? Because it is too divided. with special interest groups...with individual agendas inspired more by self interests and not the public good.....to what end? As I mentioned....that man, left unchecked, would eventually wipe himself off the planet by his own foolishness. Independent minded and self seeking, and full of false pride. So then, the answer? Jer 10:23 says.. "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."
The incoming Kingdom of God, as prophesied in the Bible, will "crush and put an end to all these Kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." Dan 2:44

It will bring global peace and prosperity to all, and treat our home, the earth, as a gift from the Creator.


!!!!!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5196. xcool
weather, or the topic of the blogweather, or the topic of the blogweather, or the topic of the blog
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting SeaMule:
after reading Dr Master's comments on the book, here is my take on Earth's future.

We are not alone. I don't for a second believe this earth, this wonderfully created earth...happened by chance.

We don't have to worry about the earth being destroyed by greed or incompetence. Mankind is incapable, and certainly too divided...to collect his thoughts and plans to one benevolent goal. Too many divisive countries, that all try to "get all they can get"....from earth's resources. China will pass the US this year in using fossil fuels. If the fears of CO2 emissions are real....and scientific....then why would government NOT do something? Because it is too divided. with special interest groups...with individual agendas inspired more by self interests and not the public good.....to what end? As I mentioned....that man, left unchecked, would eventually wipe himself off the planet by his own foolishness. Independent minded and self seeking, and full of false pride. So then, the answer? Jer 10:23 says.. "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."
The incoming Kingdom of God, as prophesied in the Bible, will "crush and put an end to all these Kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." Dan 2:44

It will bring global peace and prosperity to all, and treat our home, the earth, as a gift from the Creator.


Please, this is not a religious blog. If you're going to say this, please take it elsewhere. This is a Tropics Blog. And as most of you noticed, the wave that just exited Africa is looking really good.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5192. 7544
wow for the wave at 30 hmmmm its exploding
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5191. xcool
will45 yea
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
Quoting will45:


I think the A/B high has been too strong so far IMO


Yea, it's gonna have to weaken for sure. It has a vice grip on the tropical Atlantic right now.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5189. will45
Quoting xcool:
SeniorPoppy .guess so.


I think the A/B high has been too strong so far IMO
Member Since: July 18, 2009 Posts: 1 Comments: 994
Quoting SeaMule:
after reading Dr Master's comments on the book, here is my take on Earth's future.

We are not alone. I don't for a second believe this earth, this wonderfully created earth...happened by chance.

We don't have to worry about the earth being destroyed by greed or incompetence. Mankind is incapable, and certainly too divided...to collect his thoughts and plans to one benevolent goal. Too many divisive countries, that all try to "get all they can get"....from earth's resources. China will pass the US this year in using fossil fuels. If the fears of CO2 emissions are real....and scientific....then why would government NOT do something? Because it is too divided. with special interest groups...with individual agendas inspired more by self interests and not the public good.....to what end? As I mentioned....that man, left unchecked, would eventually wipe himself off the planet by his own foolishness. Independent minded and self seeking, and full of false pride. So then, the answer? Jer 10:23 says.. "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."
The incoming Kingdom of God, as prophesied in the Bible, will "crush and put an end to all these Kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." Dan 2:44

It will bring global peace and prosperity to all, and treat our home, the earth, as a gift from the Creator.


The aliens shown playing pool with the different galaxies at the end of Men In Black 2 makes more sense to me. :)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
5187. xcool
SeniorPoppy .guess so.
Member Since: September 26, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 15684
5186. SeaMule
after reading Dr Master's comments on the book, here is my take on Earth's future.

We are not alone. I don't for a second believe this earth, this wonderfully created earth...happened by chance.

We don't have to worry about the earth being destroyed by greed or incompetence. Mankind is incapable, and certainly too divided...to collect his thoughts and plans to one benevolent goal. Too many divisive countries, that all try to "get all they can get"....from earth's resources. China will pass the US this year in using fossil fuels. If the fears of CO2 emissions are real....and scientific....then why would government NOT do something? Because it is too divided. with special interest groups...with individual agendas inspired more by self interests and not the public good.....to what end? As I mentioned....that man, left unchecked, would eventually wipe himself off the planet by his own foolishness. Independent minded and self seeking, and full of false pride. So then, the answer? Jer 10:23 says.. "it does not belong to man who is walking even to direct his step."
The incoming Kingdom of God, as prophesied in the Bible, will "crush and put an end to all these Kingdoms, and it itself will stand to times indefinite." Dan 2:44

It will bring global peace and prosperity to all, and treat our home, the earth, as a gift from the Creator.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting xcool:
SeniorPoppy .i meaning why thing Can't get go.


Just a matter of time. There has been way too much hype surrounding this season.
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5184. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
AOI/XX/XL
MARK
7.7N/31.1W
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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.

JeffMasters's Recent Photos

Lake Effort Snow Shower Over Windsor, Ontario
Sunset on Dunham Lake
Pictured Rocks Sunset
Sunset on Lake Huron