In Storms of My Grandchildren, James Hansen - the nation's leading scientist on climate issues - 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. Although Hansen was Al Gore's science adviser for the 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, his recent data shows that our situation is even more dire today.
But politicians haven't made the connection between the policy and the science. Hansen shows why Gore's solution - cap and trade - won't work, why we must phase out all coal, and why 350 parts per million of carbon is a goal we must achieve in the next two decades if our children and grandchildren are to avoid global meltdown and the storms of the book's title.
This urgent manifesto bucks conventional wisdom (including the Kyoto Protocol) and is sure to stir controversy, but Hansen - whose climate predictions have come to pass again and again, beginning in the 1980s when he first warned Congress about global warming - is the single most credible voice on the subject worldwide.
Hansen paints a devastating but all-too-realistic picture of what will happen in the near future, mere years and decades from now, if we follow the course we're on. But he is also an optimist, showing that there is still time to do what we need to save the planet. Urgent, strong action is needed, and this book, released just before the Copenhagen Conference in December 2009, will be key in setting the agenda going forward to create a groundswell, a tipping point, to save humanity from a dire fate more imminent than we had supposed.
©2009 James Hansen; (P)2009 Tantor
Hansen is a great scientist but this book proves he is an even better citizen. It lays out his beliefs on climate changes and offers solutions like no book I have ever read. The conclusions are devasting and horrifying.
It is very technical at times but that is excusable because Hansen helps you understand fully how quickly and grotesquely the deniers and critics have been with the science.
You feel the pain of Hansen as he describes the events of the past few decades as science has been twisted and denied by lesser minds and far lesser men. It is a tragedy that we have little time to correct.
This book spurred me to action. I cannot imagine a more important book to read at this time.
Understanding this issue is critical to the survival of the species.
Hansen comes with impeccable credentials and has done a brilliant job of laying out the severity of the problem in terms that are both based in solid science and yet presented in a way that is approachable by a reader not trained as a scientist. He also avoids the trap many scientists get into of appearing dispassionate about matters of grave urgency. This is an ethically complicated choice for him, but I think he makes the right call. His presentation nicely separates science from emotion, but what he does in both areas is critical to a proper understanding of the issue.
Also, drilling down into a particular bit of detail, I have to say that I agree with him about the importance of the integral fast reactor (IFR) technology, and that he offers a particularly lucid argument for the importance of that. This is a widely misunderstood technology and he does a great job of clarifying some critical points.
Overall, it's an extremely good book, with a very good reader, and I heartily recommend it to anyone who even thinks they might be interested.
Hansen has been a major contributor to our understanding of climate issues. The title of this work reflects the focus he shares with many of us "boomers" who have to respect the legacy we were given by our parents and grandparents to pass on to future. Although he is not in perfect lockstep with Gore's proposals, Hansen brings a needed understanding to much of the technology surrounding the threats to our climate.
Bloke who took to audiobooks in order to beguile long hours on the road travelling to photography gigs across his home state. Now addicted!
In the early part of the 21st Century few figures have been as respected, and simultaneously reviled, as Jim Hansen.
Perhaps only his colleague Michael Mann has surpassed him as a target of the so-called climate 'skeptic' community - many of whom, sadly, fail to live up to their self-assumed name.
Many would have you believe that the man is a fanatic, an environmental extremist, a zealot - even a scientific incompetent and/or fabricator of facts!
Can I suggest that if you give this book a fair hearing - literally in the case of the audiobook - you simply cannot justly hold these claims to be true.
That Hansen is a sincere man is undoubtable. That he presents a compelling case for recognising the risks we are collectively running in conducting a radical experiment on the one atmosphere we possess is also beyond dispute.
Hansen, director of NASA'a Goddard Institute of Space Studies, has been doing this for a long time, and is one of the pioneers of the field of climatology, and is certainly the first internationally-known advocate of the phenomenon we know as Global Warming.
Certainly one can argue with some of his prescriptions; though a rapid phase-out of our reliance on coal can hardly be questioned if we accept the evidence, whether we should embrace nuclear power or adopt a tax-and-dividend strategy - as opposed to the market mechanism of cap-and-trade (now, ironically, opposed by many 'Free Traders', who tend to deny the reality of anthropogenic climate change) - will remain much more open to debate.
But these are exactly the points we should be discussing in the face of such a crisis, and nobody is a greater authority on the predicament that we are in than Hansen himself.
Hansen presents himself, convincingly, as a centrist, small 'c' conservative type of fellow, who really would be quite happy to just do the Science and avoid the abrasive scrutiny of the limelight, were it not for the fact that he feels he owes his grandchildren a livable future.
He presents the dangers graphically and clearly. He has concluded that 350 ppm of atmospheric CO2 is the maximum safe target - this, Dear Reader, is already well surpassed, and receding further into the distance with every day that passes. This suggestion of Hansen's has been the inspiration for Bill McKibben's climate action group, 350.org.
Beyond 350ppm we enter dangerous waters indeed. Hansen is certainly the most prominent qualified authority to warn of the most dire consequences, with regard to future sea-level, extreme weather events - the eponymous 'storms' - and even runaway feedback mechanisms leading to genuinely catastrophic consequences.
One can only hope things will never be that bad - but we ignore such voices, merely because what they are saying triggers our defensive 'that could never happen to me (or my children!)' reflex, at our peril.
The excursion into a short, pedagogic science-fiction story based on a future hyper-warmed Earth towards the end of the book constituted the only really jarring note in the story itself for me.
I also found the reading by John Allen Nelson to be mildly jarring - rather too uninflected for my taste, and somewhat monotonous.
But neither of these mild reservations is sufficient to mar my enthusiastic endorsement of this audiobook.
Jim Hansen is a self-confessed poor communicator, and in my view has chosen a monotonous narrator for this important work, but his messages on climate change, their causes and their remedies are based on thorough science and reasoning, are articulated clearly and must be acted upon.
His excursions into the politics and issues he has faced provide critical context and testimony to the difficulty of his plight, and illuminate the power and influence of the forces working in the interests of the fossil fuel sector. In my view, far from being tiresome, these excursions lend weight to the difficulty we all face in travelling the road ahead, and identify additional actions that need to be taken to help the survival of our planet; namely removing or otherwise mitigating the effects of special interest money from politics. For me, this book has achieved 3 main things. 1) It has left me convinced the planet is in far worse shape than the IPCC eludes to, and that situation is accelerating in the wrong direction and we are almost out of time. 2) In conjunction with James Lovelock's "the changing face of Gaia", I am now pro-GenIV nuclear power as a large scale, interim technology on the road to sustainable, renewable non-nuclear energy. 3) It has led me to believe the fight against special interest money in politics is just as serious a matter as climate change.
Thank you Dr Hansen for your persistence, thinking and overt caring for our planet and environment and for taking the hits you have.
Although this is a 'must read' for those seriously interested in climate change, the author spends an inordinate amount of prose discussing his self-perceived failures to effectively communicate and convince government officials around the world that real action relative to AGC is critical. I found this exceedingly boring and self indulgent. Hansen is so detailed relative to many issues that I found myself tuning out until the relevent point was made. On the positive side there is a great deal of data and information presented. Hansen does a great job of arguing why nuclear power using breeder reactors may be the only way to replace coal and other fossil fuels for power generation. I suggest Hansen engage a writer who can summarize the data and important points, and make concise arguments which are understandable by the majority. I wish Hansen was as great a spokesman for the cause as he is a great scientist.
Hansen is the country's most devoted and respected climate scientist. I expected a dry book but it's got humor and personal touches in the middle of all this frightening and factual information. Very listenable, (although I wonder sometimes if the narrator is pronouncing words correctly). If you are someone who ever thinks about the future and what awaits your children, this book is for you. It should probably be mandatory reading in schools. Climate change is without a doubt the biggest issue of this century.
If you ever want to know all about the topic of climate change - this is it. The most detailed understanding of all aspects of CC including the political forces determined to delay doing anything about it. Only critisism is that there is a lot of reference to tables and graphs which are not available as part of the download. You can get the drift, but it would have been good to see the data. A must read/listen to every human being on the planet, because it going to affect every human on the planet.
This book is critical. Hansen is one of the foremost extra-planetary climate scientists in the world, and his warnings of a possible runaway greenhouse effect on Earth are astounding in their implications.
However, the narrator is oh-so-monotone. Drone. Bemoan. I do not condone. Be careful listening to this in the car, where you might fall asleep! Listen to the sample extract above for quick confirmation of this aural drudgery.
I bought the printed version for my brother for Christmas, so haven't read his, yet.
Science is about finding the truth, sometimes it's arduous and circuitous, but hopefully the end will be clearer than the start. Max Plank once said that "An experiment is a question
which science poses to Nature & a measurement is the recording of Nature's answer."
So the study of Climate is the same, a difficult and roundabout process, well described
and thoughtfully presented by "Storms of My Grandchildren". The only problem is the unusual outside harassment; thankfully I do not receive any in my field.
"Tough but interesting reading"
This was not an easy read. In fact, I very nearly gave up after the first few chapters which were heavy on personality politics and light on science. However I'm glad I stuck with it as the second half of the book is far superior, with more science, better writing style and some scary facts. I wouldn't call this a great book, but it deserves it's four stars because it is an important book. It's hard not to feel compelled by the central argument here, and the authors reputation and experience suggest it is supported by solid science. A book everyone should read, even though it requires some effort.
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