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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6933. Drakoen
Quoting Levi32:
Intensity models appear to like this system.



The LGEM taking it all the way to Cat 2 is a good sign of favorable conditions.
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6932. Levi32
Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
So is that area of low pressure associated with the ITCZ disturbance (90L)?


The low on the 18z surface map is the center of 90L, because it is 90L.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
So is that area of low pressure associated with the ITCZ disturbance (90L)?

the floater appears to be on it.
WVLoop
Supper is scarfed.
Have a nice evening everyone.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11356
Plotting on along.

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Quoting ElConando:


In a 24 hr period?


That was my next Q. Haha. Thanks for the answer MH09!
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Quoting ElConando:


In a 24 hr period?
Not sure...but I do think 24 hours sounds reasonable.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
So, if 90L is close enough to the equator, any chance it could turn down into the southern hemisphere and slam into Brazil? bwahaha!
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Looks like we're going to hit 7,000 comments.
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Quoting wunderkidcayman:
WOW new surface map is out 18Z it has our wave and on the wave we have our tropical low


Welcome back home! Hope you had a great time. Looks like August might come in with a bang, I suspect we could have 6-8 named storms this month(AUG) alone, just my opinion only.
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6922. Levi32
Intensity models appear to like this system.

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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
In that case from what I see there is a 42% chance that 90L will intensify by 25 knots.


In 24 hours or in total?
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Quoting Levi32:


It turns out this actually is not a tropical wave, but a low embedded in the ITCZ out ahead of another wave, which is where ITCZ lows love to form.
So is that area of low pressure associated with the ITCZ disturbance (90L)?
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
6919. Levi32
Quoting Congress:
Evening, levi.


Good evening.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
In that case from what I see there is a 42% chance that 90L will intensify by 25 knots.


In a 24 hr period?
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glad to see they finally noticed 30w! Is it still in the same spot or is it moving?
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11356
6915. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)

NMFC Norfolk Tropical Feed
No Active Tropical Warnings in the Atlantic, Caribbean, or Gulf of Mexico
By Maritime.CDO@navy.mil (NMFC CDO) from Naval Maritime Forecast Center Norfolk Virginia. Published on .

As of Thu 29 Jul 2010 21:15:02Z

2010 Storms
All Active Year


Atlantic
90L.INVEST
East Pacific

Central Pacific

West Pacific
93W.INVEST
Indian Ocean

Southern Hemisphere
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54499
Quoting HurricaneSwirl:


When it says 25 kt RI threshold does it mean that it would strengthen by 25 kts? Or that it would RI once it reached 25 kts?
In that case from what I see there is a 42% chance that 90L will intensify by 25 knots.
Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
6913. Levi32
Quoting wunderkidcayman:
WOW new surface map is out 18Z it has our wave and on the wave we have our tropical low



It turns out this actually is not a tropical wave, but a low embedded in the ITCZ out ahead of another wave, which is where ITCZ lows love to form.

Drak was correct yesterday when he said it was not a wave.
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
Yep.

i was wondering about that...getting ready to drive to Deerfield Beach (just north of ft. lauderdale) 2nite for a meeting 2morrow a.m. hope i don't run into any rain.
it's treacherous driving 95 in that stuff.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11356
6910. Drakoen
Quoting StormW:
Good to see you, Drak!


Hey StormW
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6909. gator23
Quoting Tazmanian:
PAT did not get Banned


i got this when i e mail him


OM: Patrap


TO: Tazmanian
DATE: 2010-07-29 14:53:57 (2:53 PM PDT) NEW MESSAGE
SUBJECT: AUTO-REPLY: Re: no subject
This user is away from their mail.

He's on VACATION..Forests Say's.

who is Forest? He just got back from vacation 2 weeks ago.
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commet re move so i dont get banned
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Quoting Drakoen:


Right. Reason being the large amount of posts unrelated to weather and the fervent ignorance of the potential of this season.
i myself am getting annoyed with the same thing !!!!!!!
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
TIME (HR) 0 6 12 18 24 36 48 60 72 84 96 108 120
V (KT) NO LAND 20 22 25 28 32 43 54 64 72 78 80 81 81
V (KT) LAND 20 22 25 28 32 43 54 64 72 78 80 81 81
V (KT) LGE mod 20 21 22 24 27 33 40 49 59 69 77 83 86

SHEAR (KT) 5 9 8 8 11 9 12 10 7 8 5 10 7
SHEAR ADJ (KT) 2 1 3 5 2 0 0 -2 -1 -2 0 0 0
SHEAR DIR 73 69 59 74 85 94 131 173 153 198 215 259 281
SST (C) 28.7 28.8 28.9 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.0 28.7 28.6 28.6 28.6 28.4 28.7
POT. INT. (KT) 147 147 148 150 152 154 151 147 146 147 147 145 150
ADJ. POT. INT. 151 145 147 149 152 154 152 148 149 151 154 150 156
200 MB T (C) -52.8 -52.8 -53.2 -53.3 -53.0 -53.4 -53.2 -53.4 -52.9 -53.0 -52.7 -53.0 -52.3
TH_E DEV (C) 7 7 7 6 7 6 6 6 6 7 7 8 10
700-500 MB RH 60 60 64 67 69 69 72 75 74 77 74 74 67
GFS VTEX (KT) 0 LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST
850 MB ENV VOR 8 9 8 11 16 23 36 57 58 60 46 41 36
200 MB DIV 35 33 51 37 50 70 64 80 70 55 40 39 58
LAND (KM) 1500 1563 1592 1573 1549 1525 1504 1479 1450 1258 1060 930 884
LAT (DEG N) 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.7 8.8 9.3 9.8 10.1 10.3 10.5 11.1 12.0 13.2
LONG(DEG W) 30.0 30.6 31.2 31.8 32.4 33.7 35.3 37.1 39.3 41.8 44.8 47.9 51.3
STM SPEED (KT) 11 6 6 6 7 7 9 10 12 13 16 16 18
HEAT CONTENT 34 39 46 47 48 49 45 30 37 38 53 59 67

Prob of RI for 25 kt RI threshold= 42% is 3.3 times the sample mean(12.6%)
Prob of RI for 30 kt RI threshold= 20% is 2.5 times the sample mean( 8.1%)
Prob of RI for 35 kt RI threshold= 12% is 2.5 times the sample mean( 4.8%)
Prob of RI for 40 kt RI threshold= 7% is 2.1 times the sample mean( 3.4%)



When it says 25 kt RI threshold does it mean that it would strengthen by 25 kts? Or that it would RI once it reached 25 kts?
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6901. Drakoen


Recent research has indicated that the presence of "vortical" hot towers in pre-genesis tropical cyclones increases a concentrated vertical component of vorticity and therefore increases the likelihood of tropical cyclone development. "Vortical" hot towers are defined as updrafts extending to at least the tropopause (A Vortical Hot Tower Route to Tropical Cyclogenesis, Montgomery et al, 2006). This research looks to employ an objective satellite-based overshooting top detection algorithm to average the number of overshooting tops experienced by an area of potential tropical cyclogenesis. However, instead of using a 6-hour tropopause forecasts, a greater temperature difference between the potential OT and surrounding anvil was used, with potential OTs being colder than 215K.


CIMSS PREDICT Overshooting Tops
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6900. xcool
WHO GOT banned ?
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6898. gator23
Quoting Tazmanian:
no pat did not get banned

ah ok, just a rumor then.
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Out of the first 10 Invests, 3 ( 93L, 96L, and 97L) developed. Let's see how many Invests in Round 2 develop.
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6896. gator23
Quoting Congress:
wow, poor patty.

supposedly he was talking bad about Florida and then people got upset he also started fighting with another blogger.
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6894. Skyepony (Mod)
Russia sounds dreadful..what a heat wave.

More than 2,000 people have died from drowning in rivers, reservoirs and elsewhere in July and June, often after seeking relief from the heat while intoxicated.

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TIME (HR) 0 6 12 18 24 36 48 60 72 84 96 108 120
V (KT) NO LAND 20 22 25 28 32 43 54 64 72 78 80 81 81
V (KT) LAND 20 22 25 28 32 43 54 64 72 78 80 81 81
V (KT) LGE mod 20 21 22 24 27 33 40 49 59 69 77 83 86

SHEAR (KT) 5 9 8 8 11 9 12 10 7 8 5 10 7
SHEAR ADJ (KT) 2 1 3 5 2 0 0 -2 -1 -2 0 0 0
SHEAR DIR 73 69 59 74 85 94 131 173 153 198 215 259 281
SST (C) 28.7 28.8 28.9 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.0 28.7 28.6 28.6 28.6 28.4 28.7
POT. INT. (KT) 147 147 148 150 152 154 151 147 146 147 147 145 150
ADJ. POT. INT. 151 145 147 149 152 154 152 148 149 151 154 150 156
200 MB T (C) -52.8 -52.8 -53.2 -53.3 -53.0 -53.4 -53.2 -53.4 -52.9 -53.0 -52.7 -53.0 -52.3
TH_E DEV (C) 7 7 7 6 7 6 6 6 6 7 7 8 10
700-500 MB RH 60 60 64 67 69 69 72 75 74 77 74 74 67
GFS VTEX (KT) 0 LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST
850 MB ENV VOR 8 9 8 11 16 23 36 57 58 60 46 41 36
200 MB DIV 35 33 51 37 50 70 64 80 70 55 40 39 58
LAND (KM) 1500 1563 1592 1573 1549 1525 1504 1479 1450 1258 1060 930 884
LAT (DEG N) 8.5 8.5 8.5 8.7 8.8 9.3 9.8 10.1 10.3 10.5 11.1 12.0 13.2
LONG(DEG W) 30.0 30.6 31.2 31.8 32.4 33.7 35.3 37.1 39.3 41.8 44.8 47.9 51.3
STM SPEED (KT) 11 6 6 6 7 7 9 10 12 13 16 16 18
HEAT CONTENT 34 39 46 47 48 49 45 30 37 38 53 59 67

Prob of RI for 25 kt RI threshold= 42% is 3.3 times the sample mean(12.6%)
Prob of RI for 30 kt RI threshold= 20% is 2.5 times the sample mean( 8.1%)
Prob of RI for 35 kt RI threshold= 12% is 2.5 times the sample mean( 4.8%)
Prob of RI for 40 kt RI threshold= 7% is 2.1 times the sample mean( 3.4%)

Member Since: September 2, 2009 Posts: 130 Comments: 21194
no pat did not get banned
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Quoting Drakoen:


Possible, the SHIPS text indicates favorable conditions through the 120hr forecast period.


Correct me if i'm wrong,but it appers to have gotten better organized,true?
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6889. gator23
Quoting CybrTeddy:


He did? What he do?

it was a rumor I have no idea if it is true.
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Quoting ElConando:


Kinda true. There is an elementary and middle school literally a street away from me. While they are not first priority, they tend to get power back sooner than in most areas. Since we are on the same power grid as the two schools, we get power then they do.


I moved about a year ago to where I am now, and found out that I am on the same grid as the Sheriff's office substation. I know I wont lose power for any real length of time, if such a situation arises
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6886. Drakoen
Quoting Inactivity:
Drak,any chance this will be orange at 8pm?


Possible, the SHIPS text indicates favorable conditions through the 120hr forecast period.
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Quoting gator23:

I heard Pat got banned is that true?


He did? What he do?
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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.