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 Snowlover123:


Mr. Caicos, have you been here so far today? I will ask you respectfully to stop this Global Warming nonsense. This is a Tropical Weather Blog, and will be. I have no idea why da Doc posted something about GW here, but no one really wants to talk about it, so with all due respect, could you please get on topic. We would sincerely appreciate it. ;)


Well I agree no one want to talk about the stupid topic... But it is Dr. Masters Blog.. and website for that matter. So as far as Im concerned, whether I like it or not or you like it or not... The man owns the place he can post something about how puppies are hard to potty train and that is his choice. IMHO
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2658 Vman: LOL!! Alright then, see you L8R.
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2681. viman
Thanks, but I opt for lurking. :)
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Quoting btwntx08:
thats the way snowlover lol


Thx btwn. ;)
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Quoting btwntx08:

yep euro missed bonnie but cmc didnt hmmm


I thought the CMC did a pretty good job with Bonnie
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2676. xcool
ROB PLZ DNOT GET BAN
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Sooo... what's happening with our Tropical Waves? The NHC has not given the wave coming off of Africa, at least a slight chance, which kind of surprises me.
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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Three models develop a CV system by 144 hours.

GFS, NOGAPS, CMC.


I agree.... The new 18Z GFS is now showing something a bit more prominent.. Soup is on the stove... Just need the mushrooms onion and creme sauce and the season will really start to cook..
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2672. Patrap
Entry Denial-casters ?

O--k..........
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Princeton study links climate change, crop yields and cross-border migration
Posted July 26, 2010;

Climate change is expected to cause mass human migration, including immigration across international borders, according to a new study...

The researchers estimated that, depending on whether agriculture improvements help farmers adapt to a hotter, drier climate, an additional 1 million to 7 million Mexicans (up to 10 percent of the adult Mexican population) could migrate to the United States in the next 70 years due to climate-induced declining agricultural productivity,

http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S28/01/83M53/index.xml?section=topstories

...published online Monday, July 26, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.


Mr. Caicos, have you been here so far today? I will ask you respectfully to stop this Global Warming nonsense. This is a Tropical Weather Blog, and will be. I have no idea why da Doc posted something about GW here, but no one really wants to talk about it, so with all due respect, could you please get on topic. We would sincerely appreciate it. ;)
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They (the Euro) also dropped Bonnie, I think. Hmm.
Member Since: June 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 528
2649 Vman: If you're cautious you can avoid any remaining turbulence. Otherwise 'come on in, the water's fine'.

It took great personal self control last night to keep from flaming out and catching a certain ban. There are several instigators on here that will deliberately bait otherwise civilized individuals into posting ban inducing tirades. But using patience can have its own rewards. I'm still here blogging, and others have been banned. ...and the blog is now better for it. (Sigh)

Interesting glob of showers and T-storms moving into LA/TX from the gulf. That could have been tropical, but it seemed to get sheered to pieces. I think it is what was left over from that Yuk blob we were watching.
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Quoting Hurricanes12:


Where is the Euro in all of this? LOL. Haven't heard from that model in days now. Ha.


This mornings 00z developed the wave, it has since backed off and shows a 1009 low in the WCARB.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23564
Teddy, and those are the reliable models. Are the hitting on the system that is nearing the carib, the one that showed up on the GOES map that was recently posted?
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2661. MrRight
If the ice melted 14,000 years ago, who was pumping out all of the CO2?

Dr. Masters, when you are willing to give up driving, electricity in your house, and everything made directly or indirectly by oil then I might listen to you.

Global warming and term like carbon foot print are nothing more than marketing terms use to squeeze money out of people.

You claim to be an objective scientist, if that is true then start doing some objective research. You can start by explaining why we are having record cold in the Antarctic this year, let's -100 today.

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Quoting CybrTeddy:
Three models develop a CV system by 144 hours.

GFS, NOGAPS, CMC.


Where is the Euro in all of this? LOL. Haven't heard from that model in days now. Ha.
Member Since: June 21, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 528
kydan do you mind telling me what type of map that is, never seen one of its kind before
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2658. viman
Quoting viman:


I think I will stay in lurk mode for the rest of the evening, it may just be safer that way...


Conditions are still not favorable for the development of rational conversation, so until the models come into better agreement I be on the sidelines.... y'all place nice, ya 'ear
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Three models develop a CV system by 144 hours.

GFS, NOGAPS, CMC.
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23564
Quoting NttyGrtty:
Ma'am, with all due respect, there is nothing that happens here behind Mr. Pearson's back. His heart may be kind to you, but if you pay attention here, he has a VERY vindictive side towards anyone who contradicts his mantra on this, Jeff Master's, blog. Patrick has his own blog, feel free to brag on him there. Here, he is one of many, and his heart is questioned daily, as is many other's. With respect, Ma'am...

Sir,
I don't need to go to his blog I can do it here, and there are plenty of others that feel the same way. Really it don't matter what you and a few others think,everyone one has there own opinions and there's nothing wrong with that, so i will not argue over this. He tries to help alot of folks out. I am not trying to be a smarta&& either so please don't think that. I just met Pat at Christmas and I promise he has a heart of Gold him and a others made very sure My grandson wouldn't go without a Christmas and he and Atmo and his wife drove to my house and gave us a big surprise so yes i am very grateful to him and others from the WU world.

So we might have a tropical wave in 144hrs
Sheri
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Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
Princeton study links climate change, crop yields and cross-border migration
Posted July 26, 2010;

Climate change is expected to cause mass human migration, including immigration across international borders, according to a new study...

The researchers estimated that, depending on whether agriculture improvements help farmers adapt to a hotter, drier climate, an additional 1 million to 7 million Mexicans (up to 10 percent of the adult Mexican population) could migrate to the United States in the next 70 years due to climate-induced declining agricultural productivity,

http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S28/01/83M53/index.xml?section=topstories


Don't start with this again, please...
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2654. KYDan
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
I didn't see you on today, how you doing?

Well not everyone, but whoever felt like talking about the tropics went to my blog.

Yea I have been on for about 6hrs now but in Lurk Mode.... Not really much to talk about today.... I just "Donot Believe in GW" and this is not a place for "politics".... Other than that I'm doing ok just kooling off from 1 "HOT" Day.... Thanks for asking....

Taco :o)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3237
Princeton study links climate change, crop yields and cross-border migration
Posted July 26, 2010;

Climate change is expected to cause mass human migration, including immigration across international borders, according to a new study...

The researchers estimated that, depending on whether agriculture improvements help farmers adapt to a hotter, drier climate, an additional 1 million to 7 million Mexicans (up to 10 percent of the adult Mexican population) could migrate to the United States in the next 70 years due to climate-induced declining agricultural productivity,

http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S28/01/83M53/index.xml?section=topstories

...published online Monday, July 26, in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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2651. Patrap
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2650. Patrap
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2649. viman
Quoting TexasHurricane:


It seems better....
Quoting MechEngMet:
2634 Vman: Blog conditions appear to be improving. This blogger recommends proceed with caution, as conditions could deteriorate without warning.

This blogger found conditions improved dramatically after expanding his 'iggy' list (poof list) by two orders of magnitude.


I think I will stay in lurk mode for the rest of the evening, it may just be safer that way...
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2648. Patrap
We have other blogs..?


No foolin ?





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GFS operational shows a system too though not as intense as the CMC.. tomorrow this time however this particular model will be replaced by the GFS para.

Link
Member Since: July 8, 2005 Posts: 259 Comments: 23564
Quoting NttyGrtty:
Ma'am, with all due respect, there is nothing that happens here behind Mr. Pearson's back. His heart may be kind to you, but if you pay attention here, he has a VERY vindictive side towards anyone who contradicts his mantra on this, Jeff Master's, blog. Patrick has his own blog, feel free to brag on him there. Here, he is one of many, and his heart is questioned daily, as is many other's. With respect, Ma'am...

+1000000000
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Quoting btwntx08:

Link

After looking at the model, we should watch for anything suspicious after 72 hours.
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2634 Vman: Blog conditions appear to be improving. This blogger recommends proceed with caution, as conditions could deteriorate without warning.

This blogger found conditions improved dramatically after expanding his 'iggy' list (poof list) by two orders of magnitude.
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Quoting taco2me61:

Sorry MiamiHurricane
Not all of us....

Taco :o)
I didn't see you on today, how you doing?

Well not everyone, but whoever felt like talking about the tropics went to my blog.
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2641. KYDan
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Quoting MiamiHurricanes09:
All the regulars had to go to my blog earlier because of the overwhelming amount of Global Warming talk.

Sorry MiamiHurricane
Not all of us....

Taco :o)
Member Since: July 7, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 3237
Quoting hurrkat05:
well thats pass august2nd..will look at it again then no one will be affected by tropical activity until after and thats a big if..
Actually, that is August 2 and if it shows something developed as a cat 1 I am sure it began development before that date. 144 hrs = 6 days. July 27- Aug 2 = 6 days.
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2638. beell
Quoting KarenRei:


Pet peeve...


"You want the noose loose"...or is it, "Ewe want the nose lose"? I forget.
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Quoting viman:
Is it safe to venture out into the blog yet....or are conditions still hostile....


It seems better....
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2634. viman
Is it safe to venture out into the blog yet....or are conditions still hostile....
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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.