Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity

Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity

by James Hansen


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In his Q&A with Bill McKibben featured in the paperback edition of Storms of My Grandchildren, Dr. James Hansen, the world's leading climatologist, shows that exactly contrary to the impression the public has received, the science of climate change has become even clearer and sharper since the hardcover was released. In Storms of My Grandchildren, Hansen speaks out for the first time with the full truth about global warming: The planet is hurtling even more rapidly than previously acknowledged to a climatic point of no return. In explaining the science of climate change, Hansen paints a devastating but all-too-realistic picture of what will happen in our children's and grandchildren's lifetimes if we follow the course we're on. But he is also an optimist, showing that there is still time to take the urgent, strong action that is needed- just barely.

Praise for James Hansen and Storms of MyGrandchildren: "James Hansen gives us the opportunity to watch a scientist who is sick of silence and compromise ...offer up the fruits of four-plus decades of inquiry and ingenuity just in case he might change the course of history."-Los Angeles Times

"Dr. James Hansen is Paul Revere to the foreboding tyranny of climate chaos-a modern-day hero who has braved criticism and censure and put his career and fortune at stake to issue the call to arms against the apocalyptic forces of ignorance and greed."-Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

"When the history of the climate crisis is written, Hansen will be seen as the scientist with the most powerful and consistent voice calling for intelligent action to preserve our planet's environment."-Al Gore, Time magazine

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608195022
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 12/21/2010
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 295,917
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Dr. James Hansen is perhaps best known for bringing global warming to the world's attention in the 1980s, when he first testified before Congress. An adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and at Columbia's Earth Institute, and director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, he is frequently called to testify before Congress on climate issues. Dr. Hansen's background in both space and earth sciences allows a broad perspective on the status and prospects of our home planet. This is his first book.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

1 The Vice President's Climate Task Force 1

2 The A-Team and the Secretary's Quandary 17

3 A Visit to the White House 28

4 Time Warp 59

5 Dangerous Reticence: A Slippery Slope 70

6 The Faustian Bargain: Humanity's Own Trap 90

7 Is There Still Time? A Tribute to Charles David Keeling 112

8 Target Carbon Dioxide: Where Should Humanity Aim? 140

9 An Honest, Effective Path 172

10 The Venus Syndrome 223

11 Storms of My Grandchildren 237

Afterword 271

Acknowledgments 278

Appendix 1 Key Differences with Contrarians 279

Appendix 2 Global Climate Forcings and Radiative Feedbacks 281

Q&A with Bill McKibben 282

Selected Sources 298

Index 303

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Storms of My Grandchildren 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
I_Listen More than 1 year ago
James Hansen is the world's most credible voice on the subject of climate change. His science is first rate, and his climate predictions have come true again and again. In 1988 he first warned Congress about global warming. Our country's failure to respond adequately in the following two decades has motivated him to also take up the role of communicator. He has done countless interviews, attended protests, and has come out with this book. His grandchildren can be proud of him.
leopardiNJ More than 1 year ago
What will grab the public's attention away from the nonsense appeal of the denier-entertainers and towards a willingness to accept, on the basis of a very complex set of arguments that they likely do not fully understand, fundamental changes in their lifestyle? The strategy that Hansen and others have latched onto is to incorporate the philosophical underpinnings of sustainability as it emerged during the 1990s - namely, intergenerational responsibility - and apply them as the foundation for accepting the predictions of the climate change community out of a sense of obligation to future generations. You may not care too much if the occasional wave wets your beach towel, but you may not be willing to compel your grandchildren to watch their grandma and grandpa's shore house wash out to sea. I doubt that Hansen would have trouble with being termed an "alarmist". The clear intention of his only book to date, Storms of My Grandchildren, is to raise a clarion call that the Earth's atmospheric GHGs must be returned to a level below an equivalent of 350 ppm CO2. Such a goal demands more than just halting the growth in the consumption of fossil fuels - it implies a radical re-evaluation of way humans use fossil fuels. Hansen takes particular aim at coal, the undisputed ringleader among the fossil fuel gang, repeatedly insisting throughout the book that the use of coal (absent any viable CO2 sequestration technology) must cease yesterday. Unfortunately, Hansen returns a bit too often to the 350 ppm/stop coal theme for which he reserves all his vitriol. That over-emphasis results in an inadequate treatment, for example, of the development of the anti-climate-change energy lobby. As he recounts in the book, Hansen was in a unique position to shed light on climate-change decision making at the highest political level; instead he provides only a few tidbits. While Storms of My Grandchildren is not a scientific monograph, Hansen could have made a greater effort referencing, absent throughout the text, and in providing a more in-depth bibliography not so heavily weighted toward his own publications. For example, in one sentence he dismisses estimates of atmospheric paleo-CO2 levels (which are, in fact, robust back through to the early Mesozoic) without any justification whatever. At another point in the text his discussion of the climate sensitivity and the PETM leaves out some key points. Given that these two technical issues are central to his 350 ppm argument, he should have edited these discussions more carefully. Storms of My Grandchildren provides some of the most lucid explanations of technical aspects of global climate change in the, now, voluminous literature. However, there is a disturbing pattern within Hansen's book, that the closer the discussion gets to his area of expertise, the less clear he gets. You can almost feel his brain whirling on overdrive, leaving important pieces of rubber on the road, during some of the more difficult passages. His best writing tends to be in those areas where he is not necessarily the world's leading expert - for example, in his rejection of cap-and-trade and a carbon tax. Storms of My Grandchildren is the ultimate insider's view of climate change science (and politics) and is a must read for anyone concerned about what is the most important issue in human history. Richard R. Pardi Environmental Science William Paterson University
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. James Hansen's book, "Storms of my Grandchildren - the truth about the coming climate catastrophe and our last chance to save humanity," is a must read for anyone concerned about the future of this country and the planet. Like Dr. Hansen I too have grandchildren and want to see them have a viable future on this planet. The truths about global warming that Dr. Hansen details with meticulous research and scientific knowledge are sobering, but he points out we still have time to make a difference. Dr, Hansen advises us to not waste our current opportunity to forestall run-away climate change, but we are running out of time. His book is a well-researched contribution to the most important challenge humankind will face in this century.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Hansen's scientific arguments for the necessity of global weaning off fossil fuels in general and coal in particular are convincing and highly readable for laymen. He shows that those who confuse weather with climate and seize upon a cool summer as evidence that the entire body of evidence of global warming is fabricated are deniers of a holocaust that will inevitably occur if continued use of those fuels pushes our planet past the tipping point. If you decide to order a copy, I suggest that you order two and send one to President Obama, whose decisive leadership, Hansen persuasively argues, is essential to save the planet for our grandchildren.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An up-to-date and important book for all human beings. I highly recommend this without reservation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A compelling relevant book that should be required reading for all young people.
Charb_500 More than 1 year ago
James Hansen is primarily a research scientist. His breadth of knowledge on climate change may be greater than anyone, and he has thought about it deeply and fought for it at the highest levels of government for years. The studies he recounts of Earth's climate since the dawn of life are completely fascinating. His perspective on the inability of governments to grapple with the science is refreshing. He is not a political journalist, he is a scientist. He has approached governments rationally for decades and been rebuffed. Unfortunately for him and the planet, the science of climate change is complicated and the short term reward for doing nothing is high for some. The biggest obstacle he has faced is that inability or unwillingness of decision makers to simply understand the problem. But the penalty for getting climate change wrong and doing nothing is high. Mr. Hansen understands this, and though he has seen little progress in dealing with the problem, this book is a continuance of his decades long effort to simply get people to understand the science.
VisibleGhost on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It's over by the year 2525. By that year there will be nothing living on Earth larger than a bacteria. The oceans are now mist in the atmosphere. Aliens that left their far away worlds many years ago to visit Earth because they detected life here will arrive to find a mostly lifeless planet. They will leave in disgust- muttering, stupid earthlings. They ruined a perfectly good third rock from the sun. As far as doomsday scenarios go this one is as bleak as they come. No post apocalyptic survivors struggling against the odds. Everything's is toast, albeit soggy toast. Storms is mainly a science book describing the science behind global warming. It can get detailed but Hansen is thorough. His career has been spent in developing and advancing the science. He is optimistic that changes can be made in time to prevent a lifeless Earth. He does believe that if every last hydrocarbon is burned for energy, including tar sands and shale oil, then the Earth will rebel and wipe us out. We might hold off the nuclear demons but fall to the greenhouse gas demons. 500 years at the most before this doomsday.
jefware on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
We could leave the coal in the ground, but will we? If we don't we could trigger a run-away green-house effect. Hansen is an atmospheric scientist and makes a compelling argument that we must phase out coal and leave the oil shale and tar sands alone.
BenDV on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
James Hansen is one of the scientists who first publicly spoke out about global warming in the late 80s. Hansen has done a lot of very important research that has been crucial to understanding the climate change issue. He's always been a quiet guy though, preferring to stick to science rather than publicly talk about global warming. But not anymore; as he says in the book, Hansen has been forced to speak out because of government greenwash and public misunderstanding of climate change. Not only that, the climate science has become much clearer in recent years; it is now clear that unless we, within a decade, change direction drastically, we are in danger of wiping ourselves off the planet. Hansen is not exaggerating. He decided to write the book for these reasons, and because he felt he owed it to his grandchildren. He didn't want them to wonder why he didn't speak out when he knew all of this. Though Hansen does, of course, occasionally get into some really dense science in this book, overall it is very readable. He writes with an oddly casual tone, that makes the book feel rather personal- as if he is just sitting down and talking to you. He covers all the basics of climate change that people should know about; climate forcings, the exact difference between weather and climate, ice sheet collapse, feedback mechanisms that amplify climate change, sea level rise etc. But this book is also somewhat autobiographical; Hansen talks about his own personal experiences with the government and the increasingly political NASA under the Bush administration, as he refused to be censored. There is also, unsurprisingly, a lot about his grandchildren; this may be a scientific book, but it is also an intensely personal one, and it is Hansen's personal pleas for the world's grandchildren to be given a fair chance in life that are the most memorable part of the book. One of the most haunting chapters is The Venus Syndrome, when Hansen discusses the possibility of runaway climate change ending life on Earth totally. He thinks that if we burn all fossil fuels, including things like the Canadian tar sands, this is a dead certainty. Hopefully other issues will get in the way of that occurring, and I'm pretty sure they will, but even the possibility of this occurring is a pretty frightening thought. The most interesting chapter is An Effective Path- the solutions chapter. Here he explains what is so wrong with the cap-and-trade system that is touted around the world as being the best way to reduce emissions- it was this sort of scheme that was in the Kyoto Protocol and which Copenhagen was supposed to give us. Hansen's arguments against this are extremely compelling, as are his arguments for fee-and-dividend system, sometimes called a carbon tax- Hansen doesn't like this name as it implies that cap-and-trade isn't a tax, which it is, it's just a hidden one that gives no benefits to citizens. Less compelling are his words on alternative energy. Well, only a little bit less; Hansen for the most part knows the facts about clean energy. He recognises that 'clean coal' is not a legitimate solution, and is being used by governments to make it look like their doing something, when in fact there are many technological issues with clean coal, and it will likely never get off the ground- or at earliest, 2040, which is rather late. He also recognises that renewable energy is generally not capable of providing baseload electricity needs, due to its intermittent nature. This is all good stuff, though much more can be found elsewhere explaining why clean coal and renewable energy are insufficient to run industrial civilisation in its current form. The big problem is Hansen's bit on nuclear energy, which can be best described as cornucopian. He talks about the potential of the speculative fourth generation nuclear power plants, which are said to be able to use 99% of the energy from uranium (as opposed to current nuclear power plants, which use very little and th
Stbalbach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Storms of My Grandchildren has its strengths and weaknesses. It is comparable to Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth (the book) with a mixture of autobiography, history, science and evangelism. It is strongest in its technical explanations of how we know what we know, and Hansen's personal accounts of historic events, like his run-ins with Bush-era censors. Hansen for me has more credibility than most, I tend to trust him. Although most of the book is about the science and explaining how we know it, in the end he says the problem now is one of politics and to support as the best political action group.
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