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 earthlydragonfly:


Climatology! It was all the years they had to wear the brown bags on their heads... LOL Like the bucs fans.. awaiting the return to impending doom.. JK


Someone called??
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Good evening earthly
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2931. tkeith
Quoting earthlydragonfly:


Climatology! It was all the years they had to wear the brown bags on their heads... LOL Like the bucs fans.. awaiting the return to impending doom.. JK
I think you're on to something there earthlydragonfly :)
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Quoting hurrkat05:
i really dont know why everyone hates the saints..they won the superbowl fair ..they were the best team in the nfc and afc so why does everyone hate new orleans all the things we are going through right now..it seems people would have a little compassion and be happy for us...i just dont understand it...


Climatology! It was all the years they had to wear the brown bags on their heads... LOL Like the bucs fans.. awaiting the return to impending doom.. JK
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Quoting KarenRei:


Your peer-reviewed refutation to the statistical temperature correlations between locations over distances is....? Heck, your *non-peer-reviewed* refutation to the statistical temperature correlations between locations over distances is...?

Your explanation for the matching between the different datasets collected using different instrumentation is....?

And what the heck is up with your parameters -- one month of data? Versus a 1995-2000 baseline?



Tenative? Pop quiz: What's Earth's radiative equilibrium temperature? What's Venus's?

And if your answer is "Yes", then next, combine your answer with this:





First off, to correct the record, Galileo was published because he dared to reinterpret scripture to match his observations. And he was not punished by the scientific community, but the church. And furthermore, the reason you've heard of him is because he published a contrary opinion that was later proven right. That's the only way you make a name for yourself in science. And in today's climate, there's not only a "name for yourself", but a huge paycheck, since industry has pumped a massive amount of cash into funding denier groups, and some companies outright offer cash prizes to deniers who publish papers.



The GAO strongly disagrees with you on the impact of Cap and Trade.

I see you read an awful lot into one statement MUCH more than I intended.. I see you do that with data too.

Um sorry what you write here and what I write her is not peer reviewed.. your *correlation* is your interpertation. there is no evidence that there is a correlation.
Well yes I want a recent 5 year baseline. Not 1958 to 1980 like you used. After all carbon dioxide is only going up as you say.

Oh and this years anomalaies of heat and cold are only averaging out for dec-feb cold and heat..
The GAO doesn't know much at all in my book..we only have a 12 Trillion dollar deficit, no industry left and I don't see how we can even tax out way out of the hole that has been dug as out GDP is only 13 Trillion.
By the way the "green job" theory.. My business is designing, selling, installing Solar energy systems. They are already cost inefficient. Adding layers of management, regulation, marketing,hype that comes with "green" jobs will make them even more cost ineffective...
So don't believe the GAO ..there initial suppositions are all wrong too..
um what .7 compared to 1 or does about 27 million miles make comparing venus to earth so ridiculous as to be .........
Oh and


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2925. gator23
Quoting sammywammybamy:


Tampa Buckaneeres.

I think they won a superbowl.. once..

now their as bad as the detriot lions

right the NCAA team...

j/k lol
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Quoting Surfcropper:


Well the Jeopardy! judges in my head disagree with you on that. Let's see how much you wagered...OOooh all of it, which leaves you with zero. Sorry.


Is it your position then that CO2 isn't a greenhouse gas? Or that Earth doesn't have a net energy imbalance?
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2922. KYDan
Quoting StormW:


Surface winds (Top Frame)



Thank you.

Dan
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2921. BtnTx
Quoting Orcasystems:
I see the Loonies still have control of the Blog :(

I am sure Jeff does these GW Blogs just to sit back and watch the posts, to see how long it takes rational thought and objective criticism to be thrown out the window.

Yes, I think you got it!
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Quoting Orcasystems:
I see the Loonies still have control of the Blog :(

I am sure Jeff does these GW Blogs just to sit back and watch the posts. Just to see how long it takes rational thought and objective criticism to be thrown out the window.


Like I said yesterday, anybody who thinks that the current "warming trend" has anything to do with human beings, needs a big ego check. People cannot affect the atmosphere on such a grand scale as would be required to actually change the climate, no matter how many SUV's and pickups we drive.

On another note, where is all that oil that is gonna ruin our ecosystem and cause so much damage to the Gulf? Sorry, alarmist/anti-advancement, bigger government, socialist, redistributionist thugs!!! You shook down BP (actually owned by millions of Americans who have 401K's) for 20 BILLION Dollars. No where near the actual cost of cleanup and compensation. 20 Billion= 2,000 Million= 2,000,000 THOUSAND Dollars= $20,000,000,000.00 Minus that amount from everybody who has shares of BP in their 401K.

Do we think before we act?
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For anyone that would like to rid themselves of the mayhem and psychosis...there is a good tropics discussion in MiamiHurricanes09's blog.
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2917. tkeith
Quoting Surfcropper:


THe Miami fans definetly were cheering for whodat instead of the stupid colts in our stadium.
nothing like "homefield advantage" :)
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Quoting Surfcropper:


Physics on their side? How many prophets do you know of that were exempt of universal physics?


None. But they didn't have thousands of scientific papers backing their positions, correct?



Do you believe that all catastrophes can be prevented?


No. But some can. Climate Change due to AGW was, and maybe still is, one of them.
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2914. Patrap
Quoting CosmicEvents:
Auburn, you havea way of getting right to the meat on the bone. I agree 100%


U should see him near a Platter of seafood..
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Quoting auburn:
GW...or no GW...this is Doctor Masters Blog and his site for that matter..if ya don't respect his opinion ...don't post here...its not that hard!all I have to say
Auburn, you have a way of getting right to the meat on the bone. I agree 100%
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12Z cmc develops a wave coming off Africa at 90 hrs:

http://moe.met.fsu.edu/tcgengifs/
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2909. tkeith
Quoting Surfcropper:


I pulled for the Saints last year in the Supe. I mean who can't love a team that sucked for thousands of years and were more famous for their fans wearing paper bags over their heads than winning games? They deserved it.
Thank you Surf :)

we owe it all to the "Big Tuna"
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Patrick, I see nothing again...we now agree?
Member Since: February 11, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 825
2904. angiest
So, ifanyone here is actually interested in tropical weather, please come over to MiamiHurricanes09's blog.
Member Since: August 26, 2006 Posts: 16 Comments: 4766
2901. tkeith
I dont know if anyone has noticed. But there has been a very nice and good discussion on the Doc's topic between Karen and Sailing...

As Chicklet has subtely point, out though, it's a bit "over my head". But I've enjoyed reading it none the less.
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Quoting StormW:
Good night everyone.
G'nite Storm!
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2896. Ossqss
Just can't stop my fingers :)

Time for Biblical Weather? LOL, Gnite >>>

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If things get out of hand feel welcomed to head over to my blog...it's tropics only and will be moderated.

Blog Update!

July 27, 2010 - 9:00 PM EDT - Tropics Not Active...Yet...But Ready To Explode
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Quoting sailingallover:

But wait My Monaco is solidly 0 where my Birmingham is +2
You can prove anything you want scientifically if you handpick your data and cherry pick you results...


Which is precisely what a statistical analysis DOESN'T do. Which is why you must disprove peer-reviewed statistical correlations between sites instead of your approach, which is cherry picking and guestimates.

Quoting sailingallover:
oh wait MY data was invalid..but it is your data with a few different parameters...
And the base data is VERY suspect..look at that small hot spot on antartica by the tip of South american. with 1200KM smoothing it is a massive hot spot..with 250 it is smaller. But you are telling me there is a 250km spot in Antartica that stays 6 deg C above the surrounding areas? That I am not buying..


Your map shows half a dozen separate locations on the peninsula, all hot. Yes, the Antarctic peninsula -- as forecast -- has warmed significantly faster than the rest of the continent, which is a function of its geographic differences from the mainland. Researchers on the Peninsula have long noticed this. For example, Antarctica has two native flowering plants, both native to the peninsula -- Antarctic Pearlwort and Antarctic Hairgrass. The distribution of Pearlwort has increased 5-fold since the 1960s, and hairgrass, 25-fold.

it's a sensor next to a hut or something...
Go get more data and come back when you have a mature dataset.


In addition to the previous note that you're confusing a number of separate entries as being a single one, data on the Antarctic peninsula has been in place since the 1960s. The GISS dataset *does* automatically filter out anomalous readings, autodetects discontinuities from human activity, and makes use of a highly monitored reference dataset to make sure that the system works properly.

And by the way, if you'd rather, here's satellite measurements:


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Quoting AussieStorm:

doesn't take long for that to happen,,, i haven't even bothered to read back cause there is alot of ego bashing


I knew they had gone off the deep end when Law enforcement was mentioned. There are some people on here who need intervention... or a life.
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Quoting Chicklit:
Nice little wave brewing at 30W
Link


That's roughly the CMC wave...
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2890. tkeith
Quoting gator23:

WUMail


there is an NFL team in Tampa?
well...there used to be.

Chucky where are you?
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Quoting Orcasystems:
I see the Loonies still have control of the Blog :(

I am sure Jeff does these GW Blogs just to sit back and watch the posts, to see how long it takes rational thought and objective criticism to be thrown out the window.

doesn't take long for that to happen,,, i haven't even bothered to read back cause there is alot of ego bashing
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Quoting StormW:


I know that!
thank you Storm,,,Im no MJO expert by any means but from the way i read the charts it seems by the Aug. 10th time frame we could see alot more activity in atlantic
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What if we found out one day that Masters wasnt a meteorologist at all. That he was a psychologist 0.o
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Quoting aspectre:


Has there been a NorthAtlantic TropicalCyclone that hit any of the Americas (including Bermuda) with any portion of its recorded track either east of 21.5degreesEast or south of 8.8degreesNorth ?

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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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