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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4734. xcool
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting DestinJeff:


this version has just a bit more near 30W


Ya, the one I showed is their 1 hour product vs the standard 3 hour product.
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The wave along 50W is looking spunky tonight and bears watching, IMO.

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4730. xcool
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4729. xcool


wow
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Evening All.

The models this morning really didn't show any CV storm taking shape until 48+ hours. And, to be clear, when I say CV storm, I don't mean anything tropical. Merely an area that has chances to develop into a Tropical Depression. Beyond that, the shear is ok but, dry air will only allow slow development, IMO, with improving conditions as it moves westward.
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Quoting reedzone:


As expected, the conservative NHC continues it's pace. If convection persists through the night and they still don't mention it, I will have lost faith in them.

Not even noted on the ATSA 18Z


but is mentioned here
THE ITCZ AXIS IS CENTERED ALONG 11N15W 9N25W 12N46W 8N60W.
BESIDES THE CONVECTION MENTIONED IN THE TROPICAL WAVE SECTION
...SCATTERED MODERATE TO ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS OFF THE
COAST OF WEST AFRICA FROM 8N-11N BETWEEN 15W-18W. SCATTERED
MODERATE TO STRONG CONVECTION IS FROM 7N-10N BETWEEN 24W-30W.

SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION IS FROM 7N-9N BETWEEN 56W-58W.


Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15749
Quoting IKE:


Must be. They're the experts.

I'll have to see it designated by the NHC to believe anything the rest of this season in the Atlantic.

Not anywhere near as active as I thought from reading what experts were saying about this season.



Yet again, it is July. 2004 started in late July, in fact, Alex formed on July 31. It is not even that date yet. I'm still predicting an active season 15-18 storms. No reason for me to downgrade my numbers.
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4724. xcool


e-pac ha
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4723. IKE
Quoting DestinJeff:


Or the TWO showing 80% on it.


LOL.
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4722. IKE
Quoting nrtiwlnvragn:


Compare the 850mb vorticity




I haven't looked at an 850mb map since early AM. It just went poof. No wonder they don't mention it.
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4720. IKE
Quoting wfyweather:


The chances of the convection fading are higher than it continuing to organize


Must be. They're the experts.

I'll have to see it designated by the NHC to believe anything the rest of this season in the Atlantic.

Not anywhere near as active as I thought from reading what experts were saying about this season.

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Quoting IKE:
That gets a 20%.....




And this gets a no mention....maybe it's got a circulation and this below doesn't?



Compare the 850mb vorticity


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Quoting WeatherMSK:


Actually 98L had a chance to become a TD before land. 99L was called an invest over land.
What happened with 99L? I having found an explanation that sounds logical to justify calling it an invest.
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Quoting IKE:
That gets a 20%.....




And this gets a no mention....maybe it's got a circulation and this below doesn't?



Well.... development will be slow... and if it develops in the next 48 hours it will be a huge surprise. I support them in not highlighting it
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Quoting IKE:


Apparently they must not be remotely interested or they would have listed it...even with a near 0% chance in the next 48 hours.

I expect to wake up tomorrow morning and see the convection faded.


The chances of the convection fading are higher than it continuing to organize
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4715. IKE
That gets a 20%.....




And this gets a no mention....maybe it's got a circulation and this below doesn't?

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YAWN
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i think 98L will be upgrade
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4712. IKE
Quoting wfyweather:
Ike, you are right... it isn't a wave... it is just a blob of convection... but all a blob of convection has to do is lower pressures get a circulation center and enough winds and wala.... you have a system worth watching... and this is a system worth watching over the next 5-10 days


Apparently they must not be remotely interested or they would have listed it...even with a near 0% chance in the next 48 hours.

I expect to wake up tomorrow morning and see the convection faded.
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Quoting calder:


because 99L had a chance of reaching TD status before landfall and this wave has no chance of making it to TD status in 48 hours?


Actually 98L had a chance to become a TD before land. 99L was called an invest over land.
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4710. IKE
If anybody cares....6 days and 5 hours from now the 2005 season will be up to 9-4-2 for totals.

East-PAC has something....

TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
500 PM PDT WED JUL 28 2010

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

A BROAD LOW PRESSURE SYSTEM LOCATED ABOUT 300 MILES SOUTH OF
GUATEMALA IS PRODUCING WIDESPREAD CLOUDINESS AND SCATTERED
THUNDERSTORMS. ENVIRONMENTAL CONDITIONS ARE SOMEWHAT CONDUCIVE FOR
GRADUAL DEVELOPMENT OF THIS DISTURBANCE OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS AS
IT MOVES WESTWARD OR WEST-NORTHWESTWARD AT 10 TO 15 MPH. THERE IS A
LOW CHANCE...20 PERCENT...OF THIS SYSTEM BECOMING A TROPICAL
CYCLONE DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER STEWART

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Ike, you are right... it isn't a wave... it is just a blob of convection... but all a blob of convection has to do is lower pressures get a circulation center and enough winds and wala.... you have a system worth watching... and this is a system worth watching over the next 5-10 days
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4707. GCHowle
Quoting DestinJeff:
Well, this may very well be the slowest July 28th in Blog history.

You must be a lot younger than I am because at my age time is running at the speed of life. It seems like only 8 months ago I was 35 Aug 15 I turn 59
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Quoting pilotguy1:


Poof. You are gone for being personally rude and objectionable.


Ok. SOunds good. But remember, calling Dr. Hansen a loon wasnt very nice. I guess the flat-earthers are a little sensitive these days. They can dish it out but...
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all the downcaster bring joy too the blog
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wheres the downcasters when you need them the most
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Quoting DestinJeff:
Well, this may very well be the slowest July 28th in Blog history.


Actually.. the past 3 years there has never been a active July 28th.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23013
4699. IKE
Quoting Hurricanes12:
Perhaps the NHC is waiting for more persistence with this wave? Tropical Waves can easily gain strength and fall apart just as quick.


NHC doesn't have it listed as a wave. It's just a blob of convection.

NHC probably logged on to the good doc's blog and is sitting in their chairs reading our posts and laughing.
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soon all will be tracking 5 too 7 thing all at one time
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I'm starting to suspect the disturbance we're seeing is just a flareup of the ITCZ with the wave axis riding along with it. I'm interested however, in the wave behind it. That's going to be the CMC, NOGAPS, and the 00z EMCWF's system if anything does develop. Watch the GOMEX however as said before.. unless Stewart breaks the mouse again.. we could see development there was a through will be draped over the Atlantic and will start spinning off some 'spurious' lows.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23013
Perhaps the NHC is waiting for more persistence with this wave? Tropical Waves can easily gain strength and fall apart just as quick.
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4693. IKE
...THE ITCZ...

THE ITCZ AXIS IS CENTERED ALONG 11N15W 9N25W 12N46W 8N60W.
BESIDES THE CONVECTION MENTIONED IN THE TROPICAL WAVE SECTION
...SCATTERED MODERATE TO ISOLATED STRONG CONVECTION IS OFF THE
COAST OF WEST AFRICA FROM 8N-11N BETWEEN 15W-18W.
SCATTERED
MODERATE TO STRONG CONVECTION IS FROM 7N-10N BETWEEN 24W-30W.
SCATTERED MODERATE CONVECTION IS FROM 7N-9N BETWEEN 56W-58W.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting IKE:
I'm shipping a box of these to the NHC.....I give up on July 2010 in the ATL...





TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT WED JUL 28 2010

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER STEWART



and a box of BBQ crow pizza
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Quoting StormW:


Yeah...Supply and Demand...The Saudis are demanding more money, and demand that we pay it. Every time I hear supply and demand, I could vomit.

You know that leak that just happened, I had read an article posted online by BP that that was one of the largest discoveries they had made, and the supply would have out done the Middle east.

Accident?

It's all been based on greed..if ya read the articles I posted.


Storm,
I don't know where you saw that but Macando was not an elephant field (as the E&P guys say).

It was moderate - but not a blockbuster.

And riddle me this - if OPEC picked the price of crude, why did it drop to the 30 $/bbl range in January 2009?
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting CybrTeddy:
How bout that.. Pasch found a extra mouse in the cabinet.

000
ABNT20 KNHC 282351
TWOAT
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT WED JUL 28 2010

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER STEWART


As expected, the conservative NHC continues it's pace. If convection persists through the night and they still don't mention it, I will have lost faith in them.
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TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
805 PM EDT WED JUL 28 2010

TROPICAL WEATHER DISCUSSION FOR NORTH AMERICA...CENTRAL
AMERICA...GULF OF MEXICO...CARIBBEAN SEA...NORTHERN SECTIONS
OF SOUTH AMERICA...AND ATLANTIC OCEAN TO THE AFRICAN COAST
FROM THE EQUATOR TO 32N. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS BASED
ON SATELLITE IMAGERY...METEOROLOGICAL ANALYSIS...WEATHER
OBSERVATIONS...AND RADAR.

BASED ON 1800 UTC SURFACE ANALYSIS AND SATELLITE IMAGERY THROUGH
2315 UTC.

...TROPICAL WAVES...

TROPICAL WAVE IS FROM 18N42W TO 7N50W MOVING W NEAR 20 KT.
SATELLITE IMAGERY AND SATELLITE DERIVED WINDS INDICATE BROAD
CYCLONIC TURNING WITH CONVECTION W OF THE TROUGH AXIS. ISOLATED
MODERATE CONVECTION IS FROM 12N-16N BETWEEN 46W-50W.

TROPICAL WAVE IN THE E CARIBBEAN IS FROM 19N63W TO 8N67W MOVING
W NEAR 15 KT. SATELLITE IMAGERY AND SATELLITE DERIVED WINDS
INDICATE BROAD CYCLONIC TURNING WITH CONVECTION W OF THE TROUGH
AXIS. ISOLATED MODERATE CONVECTION IS FROM 13N-17N BETWEEN
65W-68W.



in fac i dont even think the nhc see the wave
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4687. IKE
I'm shipping a box of these to the NHC.....I give up on July 2010 in the ATL...





TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
800 PM EDT WED JUL 28 2010

FOR THE NORTH ATLANTIC...CARIBBEAN SEA AND THE GULF OF MEXICO...

TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER STEWART
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Quoting pilotguy1:


This will be interesting to see how many copies of the loon's book actually sell.


So...you happen to be a more widely respected scientist than Hansen? Right. There are loons and then there are LOONS.
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oh well will try at 2am
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About JeffMasters

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.