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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From Fox News:

Scientist Warns Massive Asteroid Could Hit Earth in 2182
Published July 28, 2010 Space.com



A large asteroid in space that has a remote chance of slamming into the Earth would be most likely hit in 2182, if it crashed into our planet at all, a new study suggests.

The asteroid, called 1999 RQ36, has about a 1-in-1,000 chance of actually hitting the Earth, but half of that risk corresponds to potential impacts in the year 2182, said study co-author María Eugenia Sansaturio of the Universidad de Valladolid in Spain.

Sansaturio and her colleagues used mathematical models to determine the risk of asteroid 1999 RQ36 impacting the Earth through the year 2200. They found two potential opportunities for the asteroid to hit Earth in 2182.

The research is detailed in the science journal Icarus.

The asteroid was discovered in 1999 and is about 1,837 feet (560 meters) across. A space rock this size could cause widespread devastation at an impact site in the remote chance that it hit Earth, according to a recent report by the National Academy of Sciences.

Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting TexasHurricane:


I think this is an interesting sat image, why you may ask. look at 18n 5w. Look at the shape of that twave. Is that low level winds making it look symmetrical or is that dust??
Member Since: September 30, 2007 Posts: 9 Comments: 15979
Quoting TexasHurricane:


Dry air seems to have tapered enough for this to possible develop some.
Member Since: July 1, 2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7437
Can someone fill me in on what models are showing development, and where they take it?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32860
Mitch is the 7th most intense storm actually.

The top ten is in order..
Wilma, Gilbert, Labor Day, Rita, Allen, Katrina, Camille, Mitch, Dean, Cuba, and Ivan.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24579
Quoting whs2012:


Easy solution. Get lifeguards. I'm a lifeguard, and I don't think all of those people would be dying if they had lifeguards.


or give em more alcohol so they cant walk to the water
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
3626. angiest
Quoting robj144:


Didn't Wilma have the lowest pressure of any Atlanitic hurricane ever when it was south of Cuba after hyper-intensified over a 24 hour period?


Wilma was most intense in Atlantic history, but did she crack the top 5 worldwide?
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
Quoting WINDSMURF:
Good morning all,

It's funny to see how all of the wishcasters, downcasters, upcasters and garbagecaster just seem to go away when there is nothing serious going on. As soon as we have something important to watch, they come back to slow down the blog. They should be placed on ignore as soon as they show up.


Its funny as soon as a statement like this pops up.. the blog goes nuts with arguments.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 24579
3624. ph34683
3614 - Is that two waves (1 at 23 and 1 at 15) or one big wave?
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Quoting mikatnight:


I don't think his (JFlorida) ban is up yet from yesterday...



News to me! I didn't realize.
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 670
Thank you Miami and Orca.....
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3621. robj144
Quoting hydrus:
Mitch was the fourth most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin, and the strongest ever observed in the month of October......... I thought Wilma was the strongest October Hurricane....


Didn't Wilma have the lowest pressure of any Atlanitic hurricane ever when it was south of Cuba after hyper-intensified over a 24 hour period?
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Quoting FLdewey:


LOL!

He's doing okay today... I have high hopes for a full recovery.
Good to hear. I sent him some Picadillo with white rice through UPS ground...you might get it in a couple of days. LOL.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Seems as if there is an equal amount of posts between the so called casters of any form and people complaining about them.

One way to free up blog space would be to ignore or look the other way instead of instigating the constant back and forth that's created by responding to said post.
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Quoting TexasHurricane:


I'm still here and I'm non of those... :)

I know that you are not. That is why you are still here
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Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I'm still here and I'm none of those too
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Oh good, back to GW. What could possibly go wrong?...
Member Since: February 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 872
*...RUFF RUFF..."shut up climatology"...*
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
3600. PensacolaDoug 11:16 AM EDT on July 28, 2010 Hide this comment.

Quoting thermoclined:
Here we go again. Dee Nial is more than a river in Egypt...I'm outta here



Don't let the door...

#1 Ad Homonym -3
#2 Irrelevant & Immaterial -2
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



C'mon JFlorida, Nea? Debunk this, point by point, instead of a post that just says it's right-wing propaganda and I'm stupid!


I don't think his (JFlorida) ban is up yet from yesterday...
Member Since: October 18, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 3052
Quoting WINDSMURF:
Good morning all,

It's funny to see how all of the wishcasters, downcasters, upcasters and garbagecaster just seem to go away when there is nothing serious going on. As soon as we have something important to watch, they come back to slow down the blog. They should be placed on ignore as soon as they show up.


I'm still here and I'm non of those... :)
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hurricane ingrediants
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courtesy of accuweather pro site
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Good morning all,

It's funny to see how all of the wishcasters, downcasters, upcasters and garbagecaster just seem to go away when there is nothing serious going on. As soon as we have something important to watch, they come back to slow down the blog. They should be placed on ignore as soon as they show up.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
What was the hurricane that had 2 "concentric" eyes? (not Wilma though)
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Here 'ya go Aussie, white with 3 sugars. Well, kinda off-white. Couldn't find any milk so I put some Bailey's in it...
Member Since: February 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 872
Quoting Waltanater:

WUT is a TUTT? LOL


Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough.

Noted by the bulge to the WSW of the pink lines along 25-20N 60-70W. Note the higher shear below the TUTT axis.



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Quoting thermoclined:
Here we go again. Dee Nial is more than a river in Egypt...I'm outta here


Don't let the door...
Member Since: July 25, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 670
Quoting hydrus:
Mitch was the fourth most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin, and the strongest ever observed in the month of October......... I thought Wilma was the strongest October Hurricane....


Maybe up to that point in 1998, yes Mitch was strongest...
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Check out StormW's blog. It includes many acronyms.
Here they are:

AMO: Atlantic Multidecadal Osillation
ATCF: Automated Tropical Cyclone Forecasting system
BOC: Bay Of Campeche
CATL: Central Atlantic
CARCAH: Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination, All Hurricanes
CDO: Central Dense Overcast
CFS: Coupled Forecast System & Climate Forecast System
CIMSS: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies
CISK: Conditional Instability of the Second Kind
CMC: Canadian Meteorological Center
CONUS: CONtinental United States
DOMREP: DOMinican REPublic
EATL: East Atlantic
ECMWF: European Center for Medium range Weather
Forecasting
ENSO: El Nino/Southern Oscillation
EWRC: EeyeWall Replacement Cycle
FROPA: FROntal PAssage
GANTSEC: Greater ANtilles SECtion
GFDL: Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory
GFS: Global Forecast System
GOMEX: Gulf Of MEXico
HWRF: Hurricane and Weather Research Forecasting
IRT: In Reference or In Rgeard To
ITCZ: InterTropical Convergence Zone
IVO: In the Vicinity Of
LEWP: Line Echo Wave Pattern
LLC: Low Level Circulation
MCC: Mesoscale Covective Complex
MDR: Main Development Region
MJO: Madden Julian Oscillation
MM5: FSU Mesoscale Model
MSLP: Mean Sea Level Pressure
MEI: Multivariate ENSO Index
NAM: North American Mesoscale Model
NAO: North Atlantic Oscillation
NCATL: North Central Atlantic
NEWD: Northeastward
NHC: National Hurricane Center
NOGAPS: Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Prediction
System
NWD: Northward
OBX: Outer Banks (N.C.)
ONI: Oceanic Nino Index
QBO: Quasi Biennial Oscillation
PDO: Pacific Decadal Oscillation
SAL: Saharan Air Layer
SEUS: SouthEast U.S.
SLOSH: Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge due to Hurricanes
SOI: Southern Oscillation Index
SPC: Storm Prediction Center
SSD: Satellite Services Division
SWEAT: Severe WEAther Threat
SWWD: Southwestward
TCPOD: Tropical Cyclone Plan Of the Day
THCP: Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential
TPW: Total Precipitable Water
TUTT: Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trof
UKMET: United Kingdom METeorological office
ULL: Upper Level Low
WW3: Wave Watch 3 model.
UTC: Universal Time Coordinated (also known as Zulu time)
XTRP: Not a model. Short for Extrapolation. Dead reckoning plot of a storm if it kept in a straight line, with no other forces acting upon it.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
3596. hydrus
Mitch was the fourth most intense hurricane ever observed in the Atlantic basin, and the strongest ever observed in the month of October......... I thought Wilma was the strongest October Hurricane....
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Quoting KimberlyB:


A "TUTT" is a Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough
Thanks Kimber! Try saying that fast 5 times! LOL.
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Quoting want2lrn:
Hello all, been a "watcher" of the blog for sometime but only recently signed up to post. Would someone mind taking the time to tell me where i can find definitions for all the Acronyms as well as where to go to look at the models that everyone refers to? Thank you!


Go to StormW Blog :)
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They do when they tag it with surface trough or the dreaded invest. Nice post Mikanite we must never give up on a little humor in this world. All though I am a little concerned about anyone one who has either the time or money to investigate such things. Remember it's all those Northerner's that are retired down here that skew the numbers. So just relax your in the south were we pride ourselves in having the good manner's to say. Relax awhile sit down a spell you'll come back now.
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Quoting want2lrn:
Hello all, been a "watcher" of the blog for sometime but only recently signed up to post. Would someone mind taking the time to tell me where i can find definitions for all the Acronyms as well as where to go to look at the models that everyone refers to? Thank you!
Check out StormW's blog. It includes many acronyms.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
Hello all, been a "watcher" of the blog for sometime but only recently signed up to post. Would someone mind taking the time to tell me where i can find definitions for all the Acronyms as well as where to go to look at the models that everyone refers to? Thank you!
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Quoting Jedkins01:



tongue in cheek eh? sure seemed like trash talk to me... Whatever you may call it, this is a weather blog, not bash groups of people blog. You can freak out at me all you want, I'm just calling out junk for what it is.


Lets talk about weather, not about stupid politics, bashing people, or or off topic things like Global Warming.

Yes I did say Global Warming, because it is theory still, not
science, additionally, its far more about politics then the atmosphere.
Begging the question -2 points.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting Waltanater:

WUT is a TUTT? LOL


A "TUTT" is a Tropical Upper Tropospheric Trough
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Quoting AussieStorm:
Record heat bathes the north


Temperatures have been rising to the low-to-mid 30c's in northern Australia, five to 10 degrees C above average, record-breaking in places.

Today a 90-year July record was broken in Roebourne in the WA Pilbara, where it hit 35 degrees C, eight above average.

Also in the Pilbara today, where fire danger ratings were very high, Telfer reached 33C, breaking a 35-year July record.

A 30-year July record was broken in Mango Farm in the Darwin-Daly district when it got to 37 degrees C.

The heat has been building for about a week, partly a result of persistent easterly winds recently.

Last Monday Darwin had its warmest July day in 12 years, getting to 34.7C.

In the next few days some of this heat will travel further south and east across the country as northwesterly winds pick up ahead of a colder change.

Parts of western Queensland are likely to warm to the low-to-mid 30C's again.

Even the mid 20C's and warmer is achievable in southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales, including in Brisbane.

If Brisbane gets to 26 degrees C on Saturday it will be the warmest day in more than two months and warmest July day in three years.

© Weatherzone 2010



I think all the stress as a result from fear of Global Warming is a large part of the increase in temperatures described above.... LOL jk
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Here we go again. Dee Nial is more than a river in Egypt...I'm outta here
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Quoting Jedkins01:

Satire is a subtle and sophisticated art form, often misinterpreted by the mass audience. If you don't believe me ask Jonathan Swift.
Member Since: September 9, 2007 Posts: 36 Comments: 4687
Quoting Jedkins01:




You're obviously extremely ignorant, and must have a prejudice against southern people. Sorry to break the news to you, but there's a whole lot of hard working people out here, maybe that's why most of the military is born in the rural south. Let me tell you, you're making enemies with a lot of tough hard working Americans from down here.


I mean seriously, this is a weather blog anyway, why the heck are you spreading useless harmful trash about the south? Please stop spreading lies...


This person is a drama caster... looking for attention!! Ignore it
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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.

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