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(Book Review) James Hansen’s “Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity” (alarmism on steroids)

Many scientists are concerned about the future and continue to study various aspects of our environment, including the climate. But, for Dr. James Hansen there is no doubt. Our world is headed for disaster unless we take immediate and drastic action to control greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2).

You have to give the man credit: He actually believes what he preaches. He shows pictures of his wonderful grandchildren and his concern for them is certainly evident. There is only one problem with what he shares: There is little evidence to support what he says.

Take this example:

Planet Earth, creation, the world in which civilization developed, the world with climate patterns that we know and stable shorelines, is in imminent peril. The urgency of the situation crystallized only in the past few years. We now have clear evidence of the crisis, provided by increasingly detailed information about how Earth responded to perturbing forces during its history (very sensitively, with some lag caused by the inertia of massive oceans) and by observations of changes that are beginning to occur around the globe in response to ongoing climate change. The startling conclusion is that continued exploitation of all fossil fuels on Earth threatens not only the other millions of species on the planet but also the survival of humanity itself—and the timetable is shorter than we thought. (Emphasis Added P. IX)

Now, the one thing that Dr. Hansen is not going to share with us is the “clear evidence” of a coming crisis. In fact there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Dr. Hansen may understand some scientific principles but he seems to lack any common sense. He talks about plants becoming extinct because they cannot migrate because cities and farms are in the way. Yet, any person who has ever planted a garden knows that seeds find a way of getting where they want to go.

Dr. Hansen, along with a number of other climate change alarmists (like Al Gore), believes that man is the chief cause of global warming, and that warming is generally harmful. In fact more people die from cold than die from heat. Not only that but increasing levels of carbon dioxide are generally beneficial to plants, enabling them to survive with less water.

Dr. Hansen knows that people who live day to day on this planet are not going to be easily fooled so he offers this to convince us:

How can we be on the precipice of such consequences while local climate change remains small compared with day-to-day weather fluctuations? The urgency derives from the nearness of climate tipping points, beyond which climate dynamics can cause rapid changes out of humanity’s control. Tipping points occur because of amplifying feedbacks… Climate-related feedbacks include loss of Arctic sea ice, melting ice sheets and glaciers, and release of frozen methane as tundra melts. (Ibid.)

Tipping Points: Things gradually reach the point of no return. While the day to day change may be small the point is reached where through what he calls “forcings” and “positive feedbacks” the temperature skyrockets and the planet is destroyed with everything on it.

During the past few years, however, it has become clear that 387 ppm (CO2) is already in the dangerous range. It’s crucial that we immediately recognize the need to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide to at most 350 ppm in order to avoid disasters for coming generations. (Emphasis Added P. XI)

The title of the book implies we are headed for a catastrophe or a disaster. But, is this really the last chance to save humanity? Anyone who spends time out in nature (and not just writing about it) knows that our old Earth is able to heal rather quickly. Old highways are reclaimed by natural vegetation, land covered by hot lava soon has ferns and other plants growing on it, and even oil spills are quickly oxidized and “eaten” by micro-organisms that render it harmless.

Dr. Hansen talks about species extinction, yet with none of the examples he gives did the species become extinct because of global warming. In fact, one example, the Dodo bird, became extinct simply because the Dutch sailors ate them all.

There is much evidence that with increasing temperatures species move farther north or higher in elevation while maintaining their original lower elevation limits.

The limit on permitted global warming, if we wish to preserve the great ice sheets on Antarctica and Greenland, and thus preserve the coastlines that have existed for the past seven thousand years, is much less than has generally been assumed. Halting global warming is still feasible—but requires international cooperation in taking urgent, unprecedented actions, which would have additional benefits for human health, agriculture, and the environment. (Emphasis Added P. 34)

The truth of the matter is that if the world reduces the use of fossil fuels there will be starvation on a broad scale, and many more people will die simply because they lack the energy for clean and safe living. Not only that, but while sea level rose rapidly after the end of the last ice age, most of that ice is now gone. There is some melting at the edges of Greenland and Antarctica, but the interior is actually getting thicker.

Dr. Hansen continues to beat on his alarmist theme:

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. (P. 70)

He goes on to say:

You may say, “Surely you are joking, Mr. Hansen!” Would that I were. Human-made climate change is, indeed, the greatest threat civilization faces. (Ibid.)

So what is his goal, actually?

Our goal is a global phaseout of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions. (Ibid.)

Why do we then keep using fossil fuels if there is such a great need to stop?

Why do fossil fuels continue to provide most of our energy? The reason is simple. Fossil fuels are the cheapest energy. This is in part due to their marvelous energy density and the intricate energy-use infrastructure that has grown up around fossil fuels. (Ibid.)

Dr. Hansen understands that fossil fuels represent highly concentrated energy; energy deposited by the sun over very long periods of time. Yet in his discussion he leads us to believe that solar and wind can take the place of all that.

So what is his solution? Increase the cost of fossil fuels so that alternative sources of energy will appear cheaper. Again, he notes the urgency:

The difficult part is that we must make the transition with extraordinary speed if we are to avert climate disaster. (P. 209)

His program is called “fee-and dividend”:

With fee-and-dividend, in contrast, [to cap and trade, which he opposes] we will reach a series of points at which various carbon-free energies and carbon-saving technologies are cheaper than fossil fuels plus their fee. As time goes on, fossil fuel use will collapse, remaining coal supplies will be left in the ground, and we will have arrived at a clean energy future. And that is our objective. (P. 114)

This program misses two important points: The use of fossil fuels is pretty inelastic: People continue to purchase gasoline even when the price doubles. The second thing that he seems not to consider is that wind and solar represent only intermittent power and require some sort of backup such as coal, gas, nuclear or etc. This standby energy, then, becomes very expensive.

THE ABOVE SCENARIO—with a devastated, sweltering Earth purged of life—may read like far-fetched science fiction. Yet its central hypothesis is a tragic certainty—continued unfettered burning of all fossil fuels will cause the climate system to pass tipping points such that we hand our children and grandchildren a dynamic situation that is out of control. (P. 269)

Few things in life are “certain” except “death and taxes”. Now Dr. Hansen is no longer a scientist, but a politician. His goal is to build so much fear into the average American that he will choose this poorly thought out program. We would not even give his treatise second thought except for the obvious fact that many government officials will take what he says very seriously.

If we expect to continue to improve the living conditions of the poor of the world, and maintain our own then we must reject what men like Dr. James Hansen are preaching. Recognize that the earth has warmed and cooled over the ages, but life has gone on.

—————————–

A more complex review of Hansen’s book has been published by the Science & Public Policy Institute. Jim Hollingsworth can be reached at jimhollingsworth@verizon.net

42 comments

1 Ed Reid { 08.20.10 at 6:15 am }

“-continued unfettered burning of all fossil fuels will cause the climate system to pass tipping points such that we hand our children and grandchildren a dynamic situation that is out of control. (P. 269)”

The globe’s climate system has always been a “dynamic system which is out of control”. We certainly have never controlled the system. Believing that we could control it is sheer hubris.

Certainly we have altered it by our presence and activities; and, we continue to do so. However, we clearly do not understand the climate system well enough to know how to control it, even if we possessed the tools to do so.

Interesting, though, that Hansen states: “Our goal is a global phaseout of fossil fuel carbon dioxide emissions. (Ibid)”. Commenter “GM” yesterday recommended that: “…we reduce population to sustainable levels (which are probably much lower than a billion), …”. UN FAO says that animal husbandry produces ~18% of GHGs, which must also be eliminated.

Hansen is “stuck on 350 (ppm)”, but the path back to 350 is is not obvious, not inexpensive.

2 GM { 08.20.10 at 7:39 am }

Dr. Hansen may understand some scientific principles but he seems to lack any common sense.

Anti-intellectualism 101, Lesson 1

He talks about plants becoming extinct because they cannot migrate because cities and farms are in the way. Yet, any person who has ever planted a garden knows that seeds find a way of getting where they want to go.

Utter ignorance of plant physiology and basic ecology

In fact more people die from cold than do from heat. Not only that but increasing levels of carbon dioxide are generally beneficial to plants, enabling them to survive with less water.

People aren’t going to die of from heat, they will die of starvaiton because agriculture will collapse. But to understand this, the ability to see two links further down the causality chain is required, something that the authors appears to lack

Dr. Hansen knows that people who live day to day on this planet are not going to be easily fooled so he offers this to convince us:

Anti-intellectualism 101, Lesson 2

The title of the book implies we are headed for a catastrophe or a disaster. But, is this really the last chance to save humanity? Anyone who spends time out in nature (and not just writing about it) knows that our old Earth is able to heal rather quickly.

It took the planet more than 10 million years to recover from the extinction in the end of the Permian. The same goes for any other massive extinction. So yes, it will heal eventually, and it will be quick on a geological scale, but we won’t be around to see it. But again, to understand this not so subtle point, more knowledge and understanding is required than the authors seems to possess

Old highways are reclaimed by natural vegetation, land covered by hot lava soon has ferns and other plants growing on it, and even oil spills are quickly oxidized and “eaten” by micro-organisms that render it harmless.

And this is supposed to be an arugment against climate change because…?

There is much evidence that with increasing temperatures species move farther north or higher in elevation while maintaining their original lower elevation limits.

Yes, they do. Including grains. The net results of which is a lot less food produced because the area suitable for agriculture will be greatly reduced

The truth of the matter is that if the world reduces the use of fossil fuels there will be starvation on a broad scale, and many more people will die simply because they lack the energy for clean and safe living

The author apparently has never heard of Peak Oil, or of the concept of carrying capacity. Therefore it is no wodner that it has never occured to him that if we face mass starvation without fossil fuels (a non-renewable resource anyway), then we are way past the carrying capacity of the planet so we have to reduce our population, if we are to avoid starvation. But again, understanding this requires the ability to see more than one link of the causal chain (let’s not go into networks and systems, that’s too complicated), which he doesn’t have

Not only that, but while sea level rose rapidly after the end of the last ice age, most of that ice is now gone. There is some melting at the edges of Greenland and Antarctica, but the interior is actually getting thicker.

There is still enough ice to raise sea levels 70 meters or so. So what if a lot of the ice age ice sheets are gone?

Dr. Hansen understands that fossil fuels represent highly concentrated energy; energy deposited by the sun over very long periods of time. Yet in his discussion he leads us to believe that solar and wind can take the place of all that.

Amazingly, that’s actually correct. If only now the author would realize that fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource…

If we expect to continue to improve the living conditions of the poor of the world, and maintain our own then we must reject what men like Dr. James Hansen are preaching.

You know, the truly astonishing thing is that we hear that phrase (that we can’t afford to do anything about our ecological overshoot because there are so many hungry peoplle) all the time, yet those are the same people who are strictly against what they call “wealth redistribution” and who are all for “globalization” and “free markets”, the resukt of which over the last few decades has been that the gap between rich and poor has only gotten bigger and bigger.

If we were really concerned about the poor, we could have invested the trillions of dollars we spend each year on bombing and killing them into building schools, hospitals and infrastructure for them. But no, you never hear this from the denialist crowd, because they never really mean it, what they’re looking for is an excuse for continuing with BAU.

And all of the above is without taking into consideration the very simple point that if we are way above the carrying capacity of the planet at present, with a billion people living a western lifestyle, then if 10 billion people are to be living a western lifestyle, we will need another 6 or 7 planets to provide for them, which is not possible. So if it is physically impossible to provide such a lifestyle for everyone, with the alternative being what populations in overshoot always do, i.e. collapsing while destroyng a lot of the carrying capacity in the process, then the only rational thing to do is to figure out how many people exactly we can provide for at a reasonable level of comfort, and do what it takes to get there. Simple point, but, again, another one that requires both the ability understand at some minimum the complexity and systems dynamics of the way the world works, and the ability to rise above whatever ideological brainwashing one has been subjected to. Those are severely lacking unfortunately

Recognize that the earth has warmed and cooled over the ages, but life has gone on.

And when they are lacking, you end up with statements like this one…

Really, you could have come up with something that doesn’t scream “I’m ignorant and I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, I just don’t want any pesky scientists messing up with my life” in such an obvious way. FYI the denialism machine has moved to more sophisticated tactics a long time ago, tactics that are still of the same fundamental nature and the motivation is still the same, but they at least try to look superficially credible.

3 GM { 08.20.10 at 7:48 am }

UN FAO says that animal husbandry produces ~18% of GHGs, which must also be eliminated.

Well, that’s one thing that gets thrown into the discussion by people who are generally on the right side of the issue but really shouldn’t do this. Yes, cattle releases a lot of methane, however, we have greatly reduced the number of wild grazing animals over the last 10,000 years so that probably makes up for at least some of that methane. In other words, in an undisturbed system, you have millions of bisons emitting methane, now you have millions of cows. So unless the figure for the emissions takes that into account, and I don’t think it does, although I may and I hope I am wrong, we can’t really count those as human-induced emission, we can only count the difference between those and what large herbivores in a world without humans would emit.

As far as population reductions goes, there is really absolutely no basis for an argument over this, what is uncertain is what the target should be. If you have a population that’s in ecological overshoot, it eventually collapses. That’s 100% certain. In the process of collapse, it destroys the carrying capacity of the environment (something we are currently rapidly doing). And it doesn’t go back to where it was before the phase of exponential growth, it goes back to something much lower (sometimes zero), because carrying capacity has been destroyed. So if we want to prevent collapse, we need to get our numbers and per capita consumption safely within the carrying capacity of the planet, and do it before we collapse. What is so hard to understand?

4 Craig Goodrich { 08.20.10 at 8:25 am }

The assertion that we need to actually reduce the CO2 concentration by around 40 ppm is simply silly — it would make no difference if we did it, and it’s utterly impossible anyway. By the AGW proponents’ own models, if all CO2 emissions ceased immediately, it would take centuries for the concentration to drop to a lower level.

Dr. Hansen has clearly lost control of his intellect.

5 BT { 08.20.10 at 8:28 am }

GM:

I suggest you read Bjorn Lomborg’s ‘The Sceptical Environmentalist’. He comprehensively debunked most of these hysterical ‘scarcity and collapse’ arguments years ago. His starting point was the statistical work of economist Julian Simon, featured on this site.

Your arguments are qualitative, when they really need to be quantitative.

Environmental activists (sadly, some disguised as scientists c.f. Dr James Hansen) have been comprehensively muddying the waters for many years by claiming disasters where there are at most, problems; and sometimes no problems at all. It’s time to stop taking these people as seriously as they take themselves.

6 Craig Goodrich { 08.20.10 at 9:26 am }

GM repeats: “… fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource …”

True. At current rates of use, we have only enough petroleum reserves (counting tar sands and shale) for about a century, and sufficient coal for about 300 years. Uranium enough to last more than 500 years, and thorium for about a millennium — and these last two used in breeder reactors could provide energy essentially forever at current rates of use.

Yup, no doubt about it, the lights are about to go out…

7 Jon Boone { 08.20.10 at 9:28 am }

Hansen joins a long list of “the sky is falling” superstition narratives perhaps best known by the Henny Penny (or Chicken Little) fable. The story is usually interpreted to mean that one should not believe everything one is told, as in the first version of the film in 1943–one of a series produced by Walt Disney at the request of the U.S. government during World War II for the purpose of discrediting totalitarianism in general and Nazism in particular. Its dark comedy was used as an allegory for the idea that fear-mongering weakens morale and costs lives. The Chicken jumped to a conclusion that the world was coming to an end and whipped the populace into mass hysteria, which the unscrupulous fox manipulated for his own benefit.

During the later 1940s, Lightnin’ Hopkins devoted his song “Henny Penny Blues” to the fable:

“There’s many people in the world just like our Henny-Penny,
They panic when they listen to the news,
They think the sky is falling and we’re all about to die,
I’d say they have the Henny-Penny-Blues.”

Many artists over the years have used this little story to satirise the media and resist propagandists for one cause of panic or another. I should point out that even Adam Smith, in his classic Wealth of Nations, once concluded that the state should give “entire liberty” to diversions such as painting, music, dancing and the theatre “to dissipate… that melancholy and gloomy humour which is almost always the nurse of popular superstition and enthusiasm.”

Just so. We’ll be singing the melancholy and gloomy James Hansen Eschatology Blues until–uh–hell freezes over. Manipulating foxes indeed….

8 Charles Battig { 08.20.10 at 10:53 am }

Meanwhile back at the ranch…or at least what is happening here in Charlottesville , VA with climate-record-modifier M. Mann/UVa/ vs. Ken Cuccinelli, I will be attending the 1:00PM Albemarle County Courthouse judicial proceedings to see if the Attorney General’s fraud case can go forward.

9 GM { 08.20.10 at 11:08 am }

Craig Goodrich { 08.20.10 at 9:26 am }
GM repeats: “… fossil fuels are a non-renewable resource …”

True. At current rates of use, we have only enough petroleum reserves (counting tar sands and shale) for about a century, and sufficient coal for about 300 years. Uranium enough to last more than 500 years, and thorium for about a millennium — and these last two used in breeder reactors could provide energy essentially forever at current rates of use.

Yup, no doubt about it, the lights are about to go out…

1. You pulled these numbers out of…?
2. The nature of your response is such that I am forced to conclude that you either
a) didn’t read my post here:
http://www.masterresource.org/2010/08/skeptical-science-website/comment-page-2/#comment-12771
b) if you read it, you didn’t understand anything in it

10 GM { 08.20.10 at 11:37 am }

BT { 08.20.10 at 8:28 am }
GM:

I suggest you read Bjorn Lomborg’s ‘The Sceptical Environmentalist’. He comprehensively debunked most of these hysterical ’scarcity and collapse’ arguments years ago. His starting point was the statistical work of economist Julian Simon, featured on this site.

Simon was a lunatic, the same goes for Lomborg. The argument they present boils down to two statements:

1. We have done fine so far, we will continue to be fine in the future
2. Technology will always bail us out

Both are completely false and they rely on faith, not on any quantitative reasoning

Your arguments are qualitative, when they really need to be quantitative.

And speaking of quantitative reasoning, it is extremely hypocritical for people like you to accuse me of not providing such when, as I said, their thinking is entirely based on faith, not on any numbers, and when the people who study thing like Peak Oil are the ones with the numbers.

This is a general point – I am posting in the comments section of a blog, I am not going to give you plots, charts and citations, especially about things that are widely available all over the internet, I refer to the conclusion that follow from the data and assume that whoever is reading has either looked at the data, or will do it after he has read the post.

11 Ed { 08.20.10 at 2:16 pm }

to see the futility of Man-made climate control have a look at this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wy0_SNSM8kg

12 denis { 08.20.10 at 3:01 pm }

I struggled for some time, trying to figure out who to believe on the climate, in particular the CAGW issue. I finally decided a basic document would have been helpful to others still further down the rung. So I put together a “climate tutorial” (google.doc). Take it as a starting point. If you have better data, or rebuttal based on logic and facts, my email address is included. I’d love to hear from you. Hopefully it will be helpful to some readers.
http://docs.google.com/View?id=ddrj9jjs_0fsv8n9gw

13 Eric Anderson { 08.20.10 at 4:53 pm }

Wow. Looks like Hansen has officially lost it. Some juicy quotes to be found in his book, though, if I ever decide to write my own book about alarmism . . .

14 Dave Stephens { 08.20.10 at 5:56 pm }

Oh, the certainty of fools,
Predicting certain doom,
Chicken Little prattles on,
While Reason leaves the room…

Men and Mann were plotting,
While Hansen cried out loud,
The “Team” was cooking numbers -
All their mommas were so proud.

Who stabbed science in the heart?
Who tried to hide the knife?
And who’s blood trail was marked
In an SUV cloud white?

————-

©2010 Dave Stephens

15 Charles Higley { 08.20.10 at 6:55 pm }

To GM:
YES, we must reject Dr. Hansen for two reasons.

1) The hypothesis of manmade global warming by CO2 does not have a single piece of defendable science behind it.

Take away the thoroughly discredited Hockey Stick and the artificial and dishonest altered temperature records (which produce global warming on paper) and all you have is opinion.

2) All of Dr. Hansen’s spiel is unsupported for the simple fact that it is ALL opinion.

He cannot support his statements, such as those about extinctions, because they simply are not happening. The fact is that warming tends to increase diversity, not decrease it.

The “science” of AGW is junk science and the AGW scam is a political plan for grabbing power and wealth. This has nothing to do with science, which is why the IPCC was set up as a political device—nothing scientific about it—as their mission is to show the effects of global warming whether it is happening or not.

Tipping points are the classic boogie man in the closet. They do not exist or they would have occurred long ago as our climate has been much warmer than now several times in the current interglacial. Here the science is fairly solid and not opinion.

Dr. Hansen has to yell more loudly and ever more shrilly as he senses that the world is catching on. People are learning more about weather and, finally, the news is beginning to report more of the real details.

The recent heat in Russia and floods in Pakistan are from weather not climate – the jet stream meanders were blocked in place by high pressure systems, causing hot in some areas and cold in others for up to three months at a time. Oh, I forgot to mention that this behavior of the jet stream tends to occur more during cool climate periods. Oh! We are entering a cool period now!

16 Jon Boone { 08.20.10 at 10:26 pm }

Nice work, denice, trying to piece it all together. You might consider early on providing an operational definition of climate, then enumerating four or five claims made by those supporting AGW, making distinctions between those on the high and low sides and summarizing their evidence, including posting links where people can learn more. You’ve gone this far, so why not do a bit more to make it more comprehensive.

And, Dave, consider putting your libretto to music. Thanks!

17 John Droz { 08.21.10 at 7:09 am }

GM:

Although, quite frankly, I don’t agree with much of what you say, I appreciate your enthusiasm and certainly support your right to express your opinions. That is an important part of what scientific discovery is all about: openness and transparency.

As a self-proclaimed energy expert, I am a bit puzzled by what seems to be a contradiction in your position.

In your comments to my post last weekend (about the deficiency of science in the whole AGW process) you stated:

“Alternative sources of energy such as solar and wind can not make up for the shortfall due even to Peak Oil alone, because they are too diffuse and so require impractically enormous installations to harvest them, which we do not have the resources and/or time to build.”

From what I know (a fair amount) that is an accurate statement.

The author here objected to Hansen’s blind promotion of renewables “In his discussion he leads us to believe that solar and wind can take the place of fossil fuels.”

Yet, in your apparent attempt to support all-things-Hansen, you state in #2: “Amazingly, that’s actually correct.”

So is Hansen right or wrong in saying that wind and solar can replace coal and gas?

And since this is not incidental matter to AGW proponents (how we are actually going to reduce CO2), IF he is wrong, then what does it say about the methodoogy he uses to make assertions.

Is his position that wind will replace coal based on science or not?

18 GM { 08.21.10 at 8:39 am }

So is Hansen right or wrong in saying that wind and solar can replace coal and gas?

And since this is not incidental matter to AGW proponents (how we are actually going to reduce CO2), IF he is wrong, then what does it say about the methodoogy he uses to make assertions.

Is his position that wind will replace coal based on science or not?

Whether he is right or wrong on the subject of the ability of renewables to replace fossil fuels is irrelevant to whether AGW science is sound.

That said, he gets it wrong or at least he doesn’t mention the second part of the equation, which is that you can definitely power a civilization with renewables (you will have to include next generation nuclear in the mix too though) but it will be a civilization that’s a lot smaller and operates on very different principles.

You have to understand the situation he is in though – he most likely understands the reality of our ecological overshoot, however, he simply can not afford to be talking about things like the end of economic growth, population reduction, and the drastic reorganization of our society that has to happen if we are to do those things, without providing plenty of fuel for the denialist machine that will pick such statements up and loudly proclaim “See, we told you, these people are commies and nazis”. Remember what happened when John Holdren was appointed scientific advisory to president – his writings from the 70s were immediately brought up, now imagine what would happen if one is to write about these things in today’s sociopolitical climate.

Thats doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t be writing about these things, exactly the opposite, but I can understand why people who are in Hansen’s position wouldn’t do it.

The author here objected to Hansen’s blind promotion of renewables “In his discussion he leads us to believe that solar and wind can take the place of fossil fuels.”

Yet, in your apparent attempt to support all-things-Hansen, you state in #2: “Amazingly, that’s actually correct.”

I agreed with the objection, not with the statement made by Hansen, I hope that clarifies things a little bit

19 John Droz { 08.21.10 at 9:28 am }

GM:

It DOES matter what he claims are technical solutions.

Science is a PROCESS, not a collection of data.

A person who is a true scientist adheres to the PROCESS of how science works — which boils down to the Scientific Method.

Hansen says AGW is a scientific “proven,” AND that switching to wind & solar are essential to avoid calamity.

My take is that since his “solution” is bogus, that it tells us a great deal about his PROCESS for dealing with technical matters.

It is seriously flawed.

To me, that says that Hansen may well be a well-intentioned person, but he has departed from the realm of science and is the theater of evangelism.

As such his credibility regarding other technical matters (e.g. AGW) is minimal.

20 Richard W. Fulmer { 08.21.10 at 10:56 am }

GM,
You use such sanitary terms when you talk of eliminating six of every seven people: “do what it takes to get there,” “population reduction.” Just exactly what do you think needs to done to “get there”? Who gets to choose who survives and who doesn’t? And what if those not chosen (the majority) object?

21 GM { 08.21.10 at 11:19 am }

John Droz { 08.21.10 at 9:28 am }
Hansen says AGW is a scientific “proven,” AND that switching to wind & solar are essential to avoid calamity.

That’s a perfectly correct statement. AGW is indeed a problem and renewables are indeed an essential part of the solution. That he doesn’t mention the rest of the solution does not make these statements false

22 GM { 08.21.10 at 11:32 am }

Richard W. Fulmer { 08.21.10 at 10:56 am }
GM,
You use such sanitary terms when you talk of eliminating six of every seven people: “do what it takes to get there,” “population reduction.” Just exactly what do you think needs to done to “get there”? Who gets to choose who survives and who doesn’t? And what if those not chosen (the majority) object?

As people usually do when this topic comes up, you don’t get it at all.

Population size is determined by the balance between death rate and birth rate. So if population is to be reduced, this can be done in two ways – increase the death rate or decrease the birth rate (right now the death rate is 8 per 1000, and the birth rate 20). Population will eventually be reduced, whether we want it or not, but we can choose the way to do it – we can let nature do it, and nature will do by drastically increasing the death rates (while also decreasing the birth rates) and destroying civilization in the process, or we can do it by decreasing the birth rates. Obviously, the sane choice is the decrease the birth rates.

Had we started 30, or even better, 50 years ago, we may have gotten away with simply limiting births to 1 per woman, now it will have to be more like an almost total moratorium on births – we will have to allow some births to keep young people around, of course, but on average, it will have to be much lower than 1 child per woman for a while, especially given that too many of the 7 billion people we have today are very young.

Nobody is talking about killing people though – this is precisely what we are trying to avoid. I know it is convenient to misrepresent things in such a way, but it is against basic intellectual honesty

23 John Droz { 08.21.10 at 1:41 pm }

GM:

OK, I abbreviated my Hansen statement as I thought we were clear here. Evidently not.

Let me start over:

Hansen says AGW is scientificly “proven,” AND that we must replace coal & gas with wind & solar to avoid calamity.

My take is that since his “solution” is bogus, that it tells us a great deal about his PROCESS for dealing with technical matters.

It is seriously flawed.

To me, that says that Hansen may well be a well-intentioned person, but he has departed from the realm of science and is the theater of evangelism.

As such his credibility regarding other technical matters (e.g. AGW) is minimal.

24 GM { 08.21.10 at 2:20 pm }

Actually it’s the other way around – he is an expert on climate, his credibility on other issues such as energy is not so unshakable.

25 John Droz { 08.21.10 at 4:01 pm }

GM:

Like myself, Hansen is a physicist — so climate is outside of his degreed area of expertise.

Scientists solve technical problems using one scientific process.

They do not use one procedure for one problem and a second (different) procedure for another. The procedure is the Scientific Method.

We are in agreement that Hansen came to a totally false conclusion about eletrical energy solutions to AGW.

This is no incidental matter as this is a key part of a solution to what he says is a threat to our very survival. One would have thought that he would have put his absolute best efforts into putting forth solutions to avoid such an inglorious end to humanity!

What happened though was that Hansen did NOT use a scientific procedure to assess the options. If he had he would have arrived at the same conclusion that you and I have. Instead he skipped science and jumped on to the green bandwagon.

I contend that this is VERY revealing as to how Hansen thinks: emotions take precendence over logic and science.

That certainly puts into serious question his AGW opinions.

26 Richard W. Fulmer { 08.21.10 at 5:23 pm }

GM
How will you enforce your one child rule?

27 nofreewind { 08.21.10 at 9:34 pm }

GM { 08.21.10 at 11:32 am }
Nobody is talking about killing people though – this is precisely what we are trying to avoid.
=====================
Who is We? Hope you can do it, avoid killing people that is.

28 GM { 08.22.10 at 12:22 am }

John Droz { 08.21.10 at 4:01 pm }
GM:

We are in agreement that Hansen came to a totally false conclusion about eletrical energy solutions to AGW.

No, we are not in agreement. Renewables will have to play a crucial role in any plan for getting us out if the hole we have dug ourselves in. As I said, Hansen doesn’t say anything that’s wrong, he just doesn’t say everything that’s right, why, I tried to explain. That doesn’t make the things he says wrong

29 GM { 08.22.10 at 12:40 am }

Richard W. Fulmer { 08.21.10 at 5:23 pm }
GM
How will you enforce your one child rule?

It would be a lot easier if people would voluntarily do it, so a very important portion of the plan will be a massive worldwide educational campaign about why we have to do it. That will still leave too many people unconvinced due to their religious beliefs, so we will have to educate religion away too. Ultimately, however, both of those things can only work on a timescale of a few generations, so in the short term, some oppression will have to be applied (in the form of sterilizations, abortions and infanticide). The problem with that is that, of course, there is no power in the world that’s strong enough to enforce that on people if the majority of them are against it as they will be, which means that if nobody has figured out a way to use “something in the water” type of technique, then we simply can’t do it, even if the political will was present, and that’s not the case either.

So rest assured, nothing is ever going to be done about the problem, nothing that I say is likely to leave the realm of armchair here’s-what-has-to-be-done-in-an-ideal-world-we-don’t-live-in type of thought.

30 asmilwho { 08.22.10 at 12:47 am }

“You may say, “Surely you are joking, Mr. Hansen!””

This is a play on the title of a book by Richard Feynmann (ISBN-13: 978-0393316049), one of the fathers of quantum mechanics.(he won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1965 for his work).

Is this clown so arrogant that he puts himself with his “scenarios” and “projections” and “proxies” on the same level as one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century?

31 nofreewind { 08.22.10 at 7:41 am }

GM { 08.21.10 at 11:32 am }
Nobody is talking about killing people though – this is precisely what we are trying to avoid.
===============================
Please elaborate GM. I k now you write you are not talking about killing people, but certainly you must be thinking about it, if you are already thinking about how you or the WE are trying to avoid KILLING PEOPLE.

I have read the models, I have read your comments and predictions and personally I don’t see any way possible that mankind is going to avoid the scenario which you paint, if in fact the models are correct. We are going to continue using the resources and will continue to create CO2. That is a certainty. But I see you have already thought this through yourself, you and the “We”.

How is “We” going to kill people? Because, IMHO, if the models are correct, as I am sure you feel they are, what you are trying to avoid is inevitable. But I respect that is exactly what you trying to avoid that.

But since there is not doubt that what you are trying to avoid is going to happen, according to your models. How is the “We” going to kill the people that will have to be killed? What method are you planning on using? Bullets? Nah, because that would take precious resources. Poison – I know there are painless poisons, that would do the job, they are inexpensive, maybe even green. Maybe it could planned secretly, and the the people that are going to have to be killed wouldn’t even have to be aware they are going to have to be killed!

Who are the “People” that the “We” are trying to avoid to KILL. Where do they live? How many do you think might have to be killed to complete the mission?

Maybe the WE shouldn’t be talking about this??? Better to keep the Master Plan quiet, until it is becomes necessary? Wouldn’t ya think?

32 Right to Property and Life { 08.27.10 at 12:54 pm }

GM,

It would appear that you get some sort of thrill in recommending that the vast majority of your fellow humans be annihilated. Must make you feel pretty superior and powerful.

And then you dishonestly deny your power trip with prevarications about not really meaning it, since it is not actually feasible to wipe out that large a portion of humanity.

You need to understand a couple of things, GM. First, it is extremely feasible to do exactly what you so disingenuously deny is possible. And second, foolish “intellectuals” like yourself have thought out loud about the same sort of “solutions,” at the same time that they denied that the solutions were actually implementable, only to find out that there are energetic simpletons who actually believe you idiotic theorists, and will actually find ways to implement your hideous suggestions.

When you wake up in the middle of the night tonight, all warm in your cozy little smart-guy bed, before you turn on the light and scribble some more of your intellectual suggestions for “improving the world,” lie there in the darkness and imagine the blood-bath in the cellars of Russian communist slaughterhouses where millions of human lives were snuffed out. Hear the screams of the millions of humans as their brains were bashed in by the Khmer Rouge. Watch the horror on the faces of the families of those publicly humiliated, tortured and murdered during the Chinese cultural revolution. Feel the warm, sticky blood flow as a head drops into the basket under the guillotine during the French revolution.

Oh yes, GM, your sick fantasies of wiping out huge numbers of your fellow human beings can be carried out, quickly and efficiently.

You need to realize the danger of your intellectual diarrhea. There are others who would be tickled to carry out your insane fantasy.

Back to your warm, carbon-emitting house. Enjoy your life. And allow the rest of us to enjoy ours. Stop calling for genocide.

33 GM { 08.28.10 at 5:46 pm }

Another person with severe reading comprehension problems who is completely unable to grasp the difference between increasing the death rate and decreasing the birth rate as methods for reducing the population and who is so blinded by whatever ideology under the influence of which he happens to be that he is more than ready to deny existence of the most basic laws of physics and principles of ecology.

It’s things likes this that make you lose all hope for humanity…

34 David Pekrul { 09.28.10 at 9:00 am }

To Jon Boone:
A correction to your comments. Lightnin’ Hopkins wrote a song “Henny Penny Blues”, but the following lines were not written by him; they were written by me, David Ronald Bruce Pekrul.

“There’s many people in the world just like our Henny-Penny,
They panic when they listen to the news,
They think the sky is falling and we’re all about to die,
I’d say they have the Henny-Penny-Blues.”

35 rodneyhorton { 09.28.10 at 3:16 pm }

Hansen’s error is the omission of water vapor and clouds in the set of climate forcings. Dr. Ferenc Miskolczi’s studies show that CO2 emissions are irrelevant. Dr. Miklos Zagoni in his paper “CO2 Cannot Cause any more “Global Warming”” dated December 2009 describes this discovery and its meaning. Dr. Zagoni beautifully sums it up all up:

“Since the Earth’s atmosphere is not lacking in greenhouse gases [water vapor], if the system could have increased its surface temperature it would have done so long before our emissions. It need not have waited for us to add CO2: another greenhouse gas, H2O, was already to hand in practically unlimited reservoirs in the oceans.”

36 Perivale Benway { 11.29.10 at 6:27 pm }

Hollingsworth is in error when he writes: “Dr. Hansen understands that fossil fuels represent highly concentrated energy; energy deposited by the sun over very long periods of time. Yet in his discussion he leads us to believe that solar and wind can take the place of all that.” In fact Hansen argues for 4th generation atomic power plants as the primary base-load supply to replace coal and he calculates that the conventional oil and gas extraction is alright – that man may use that stuff up with no serious harm.

More generally, it seems that many people posting here have not read the book. Might this not be a good idea?

37 John Garrett { 03.13.11 at 5:29 pm }

Why am I paying James Hansen?

38 D. C. Allison { 04.25.11 at 6:40 pm }

Ok, so there is a controversy. The naysayers vs the bomb-throwers.

Just wait until the big insurance companies start having to pay out.

That will be the tell.

I just read his book (2/2011).
I’ve dealt with lots of data before where a trend or trends have to be found. (Stepwise multiple linear regression)
The polynomial models always get better with more data – and the deterministic begins to fall out where we once found stochastic.

His data ‘smells right’ to me.

Everyone should be uncomfortable in my opinion.
-> dca

39 James { 11.07.11 at 6:58 am }

A biased review from a website that wants to promote the interests of the the fossil fuel industry it seems. A website not to be trusted for journalistic integrity or for independence. I thought that this website would review how well or not well the book is written yet the first statements come out biased against a scientific expert, and drivel on with climate change denial crap.
This websites reviews should be ignored and lack integrity. Pure bias.

40 rbradley { 11.07.11 at 9:58 am }

Bad tone and language–why does emotion so often plague alarmists? Is there any doubt why the public is rejecting their invective?

41 Jim Hollingsworth { 10.07.12 at 11:08 am }

I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments. And to point out that my contact information has changed from Verizon to frontier. New email address: jimhollingsworth@frontier.com
Thanks
Jim Hollingsworth

42 True U.S. Debt Now Exceeds $278,000 Per Person « Tarpon's Swamp { 11.28.12 at 9:10 am }

[...] James Hansen’s grandchildren should rightfully be frightened about the staggering liability they will inherit, not the trivial implications of alleged anthropogenic global warming. [...]

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