Storms of my Grandchildren: The truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity

I just finished Storms of My Grandchildren, by James Hansen, who is director of NASA’s Goddard Institute For Space Studies. I was curious to learn how climate scientists came to some of their conclusions about the effects of CO2 and other gasses upon the planet and he did not disappoint . He shows a number of graphs and walks the reader through their implications.

Global Warming 1/2

Some things surprised me. I assumed that conclusions about global warming fell out of weather modeling. This is not at all the case, because those models simply aren’t accurate enough to look at long term trends (okay, I admit it, how naive can one be? If they can’t predict the weather a week from now, how can they possibly predict what will happen in ten years?). Instead, it is based upon historical data such as ice cores and basic energy balance equations, along with growing accuracy in ocean temperature measurements. Of course, there is a lot more to it than that, and scientists have looked at the problem in a lot of ways. I didn’t pay enough attention to the details to be able to repeat them here, so you would have to read his book for yourself. But he certainly convinced me that the science is sufficiently sound to know that we have a serious problem on our hands!

English: Line plot of global mean land-ocean t...

Doesn't this scare you?

English: Taken at the Energy Crossroads confer...

The details about climate science are interspersed with his experiences unsuccessfully trying to convey the science to politicians and his ideas about how to address the problem. If one likes this kind of thing, he gives lots of names. True confession: I found his lists of people in government a little tiresome and skipped some of this.

Because global warming interests me, and I think it is one of the most important issues of our times, I plan to do lots more reading about it. If our world could potentially warm enough to raise the levels of our oceans even one foot, let alone two, and change weather patterns even a fraction of what James Hansen suggests, the world we know would no longer exist and millions and millions of people would suffer. To me, this doesn’t seem like a risk worth taking, compared to the risks associated with doing something, right now, to slow down the world’s production of greenhouse gases.

There’s been a lot of debate about climate change. This article cites Dr. William Happer, who sounds pretty impressive (he’s at Princeton) until you realize that his research has nothing to do with climate. He studies spin-polarized atoms and nuclei. I have to wonder how he suddenly became an expert on global warming and why he is so sure it isn’t caused by CO2. Just wondering.

Still, I like to learn about any science showing humans are not causing global warming, so, if this book gets translated into English, I just might have to have a gander:

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  1. #1 by klem on February 19, 2012 - 2:04 pm

    “Still, I like to learn about any science showing humans are not causing global warming”

    Actually there is very little available which would answer that question.

    On the other hand, almost no climate science has ever been able to rule out natural caused climate change. Did Hansen forget to mention that in his book?

    Almost all climate investigations begin with the assumption that human activity or CO2 are the cause. This is normal considering the bible of climate science is the AR reports issued every few years by the UN’s IPCC organization. Its mission is to assess the risks of human caused climate change, it does not mention natural caused climate change. It too begins with the assumption that humans are the cause of climate change which has been going on for millions of years.

    Here’s the mission of the IPCC “Its mission is to provide comprehensive scientific assessments of current scientific, technical and socio-economic information worldwide about the risk of climate change caused by human activity, its potential environmental and socio-economic consequences, and possible options for adapting to these consequences or mitigating the effects”

    It’s mission is to look at human causes of climate change only, not whether humans are causes of those changes. It simply assumes humans/CO2 are the cause. The mission clearly states its bias. Amazing.

    Hansen knows this. Did he mention it?

    • #2 by annstanleywriting on February 19, 2012 - 3:33 pm

      Oh yes, in fact he talked about how they estimate the natural (nonhuman caused) effects on climate. Since the sun is currently in a slow phase, those effects would actually cause the climate to cool. He carefully went through all of the known forcings on the energy balance equations – earth tilt, solar energy coming in, ocean absorption, aerosols, methane, etc. and showed that greenhouse gasses have a much larger impact than anything else. Despite what you said, all climate estimates start with the world without the huge amounts of CO2 we’re putting into the air, and then look at the impact of adding it into the model.

      • #3 by annstanleywriting on February 19, 2012 - 3:45 pm

        Obviously, I am not in a position to double-check his calculations and verify that he included all effects, but he did talk about this and also some mysterious sink that is supposed to absorb CO2. He talked also about the ocean absorption of CO2, and what was known at the time he was writing about this sink. If you’re curious, you should read his book.

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