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Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity Hardcover – Bargain Price, December 8, 2009

4.5 out of 5 stars 183 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, December 8, 2009
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Starred Review. Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, lays all the cards on the table in this thorough, detailed analysis of the history, science and politics of climate change, a Silent Spring-style warning cry that predicts "a rough ride" for our grandchildren. Using numerous charts and graphs alongside accessible explanations, Hansen presents copious climate data for a broad audience. After discussing the recent history of global warming science, from the Climate Task Force of 2000 to his up-to-the-minute carbon dioxide limit of 350ppm, Hansen provides recommendations for achieving greenhouse gas reduction, as well as strategies for reducing or eliminating fossil fuel use: "For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we cannot allow our government to continue to connive with the coal industry in subterfuges that allow dirty-coal use to continue." The most significant step, he says, would be creating a cost structure that escalates cost as carbon emissions increase. With of-the-moment discussion of topics such as climate vs. weather (addressing in particular the cool U.S. summer of 2009), cap-and-trade vs. fee-and-dividend, and climate change politics as well as activism, this is certain to be as controversial as it is informative. Hansen's message is stirring as well as urgent, and should be required reading for anyone involved in public policy.

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*Starred Review* Climatologist Hansen, director of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and an internationally renowned global-warming expert, became even more famous when he was censored by the Bush administration. After decades of studying the role fossil fuels play in global warming and witnessing the federal government’s failure to take action to lower carbon emissions, he felt compelled to write his first book out of concern about the potentially catastrophic future facing his grandchildren. Hansen condemns governmental “greenwashing” and the undue influence of more than 2,300 energy lobbyists, and attempts to close the gap “between public perception and scientific reality” by lucidly explaining the dynamics of global warming, its acceleration, and how a slight rise in temperature can lead to disastrous consequences. He then boldly declares that the way to solve the climate crisis is to “rapidly phase out coal emissions.” How will we meet our energy needs without coal? Hansen tells the “secret story” of the jettisoned “fast” nuclear reactor, a safer and more efficient reactor than those currently in use, and advocates for its resurrection. Rich in invaluable insights into the geopolitics as well as the geophysics of climate change, Hansen’s guaranteed-to-be-controversial manifesto is the most comprehensible, realistic, and courageous call to prevent climate change yet. It belongs in every library. --Donna Seaman

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (December 8, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1608192008
  • ASIN: B004A14W0E
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (183 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,017,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Steven Stoft on December 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
James Hansen, the world's most famous climate scientist, is thought by climate contrarians to be part of a liberal conspiracy. But as you'll see below (Chp. 9), he's as independent as he claims -- critical of Republicans for suppressing climate change science, but critical of Democrats for blocking the most important part of the solution. Surprises await readers of any persuasion. The book contains a mix of equal parts politics and science, so a guide to the chapters may be helpful. (For why this book is best on climate science, see my wonkish "comment" below.)

Chp. 1: Dick Cheney's climate task force. The frustrations of politics with a little science tossed in.
Chp. 2: The A-team. Hansen retreats and thinks through climate policy with his students.
Chp. 3: Visit to the White House. He's hopeful, then disappointed. This chapter launches into serious Paleoclimate science and explains the mystery of why the world starts to warm from an ice age before carbon dioxide increases. Fascinating if you like science. Otherwise, skim for interesting tidbits -- ice that would crush "New York City to smithereens," the development of civilization, coastal fishing, and more.

The first big surprise: "It may seem that I am harsh on climate models." He doesn't think they're good at estimating "climate sensitivity." In fact, he says, "Thirty years later [after the National Academy's 1979 estimate], models alone still cannot do much better."

Chp. 4: Back to 1989. Hansen asks for satellite instruments to collect crucial global warming data. No luck.
Chp. 5: A Slippery Slope. In 2003 Hansen writes an article with "extensive criticisms of IPCC" (UN climate science).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I hope not, but it's hard to find a basis for optimism after reading James Hansen's book and looking at the current American political situation. Hansen's prescriptions for averting a climate catastrophe are tough to meet, and at the moment there is a political backlash against bold government endeavors such as these. Right now, taking action on climate change is largely perceived as one competing political issue among many at best, and as a power-grab based on tainted science at worst. Hansen argues that maintaining the human civilization that developed after the last ice age depends on us stabilizing the climate.

It was James Hansen's testimony before congress in 1988 that brought global warming into the public square as an issue, and he has been at the center of the shouting match ever since. He begins the book by recounting his efforts to convince the political leadership of the importance of tackling climate change in the Bush Administration. Unfortunately, the political appointees in NASA did all they could to keep him from expressing the views in a public setting, using a law about government employees engaging in political campaigns. Hansen expressly says that he prefers to stick to the science, but that the problem is so daunting that he had to speak out.

Hansen actually talks about the science behind climate change, and makes it relatively easy for readers to understand. With a large amount of Co2 emissions, heat is trapped in the atmosphere, and there's an energy imbalance between how much heat is coming into the earth from the sun and how much is radiated back into space- thus resulting in the temperature warming up. So Co2 is a climate "forcing" as he puts it.
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A January 2009 peer-reviewed study of active American climate scientists found that over 97% of them agreed that, "human activity is a significant contributing factor in changing mean global temperatures". Climate scientists' confidence factor regarding its predictions about future sea level rise and significant extinction events if we don't reform our energy sources is also high at 95%. Science, and Hansen in his book both explain and report those predictions; that if we fail to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions science predicts catastrophe to humanity - both in lives, security, and our economic base.

Therefore I would argue that this generation of the U.S. public is facing our single greatest historical test relative to what the rest of the world requires of us in order to defend humanity against catastrophe. Is this mere hyperbole on my part? Especially given the enormous tests previously thrown our way - such as the U.S.'s engagement in the Atlantic Theater of WWII and our contributions in the Cold War. It's not hyperbole if you've studied the ecological and economic damage coming our way if we don't quickly reverse the rate we emit anthropogenic ("human-generated") greenhouse gases coupled to the U.S. government's inability or unwillingness to set policies mitigating global warming; the latter being the primary factor why it falls on the American people's shoulders to get our government moving out domestically. Especially since we need to garner leverage to better engage the rest of the world, China and India in particular. Therefore my `greatest challenge in America's history' assertion becomes at least arguable if not self-evident.

Even being cognizant of this reality, I was concerned that Dr.
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