Reading notes for “Storms of My Grandchildren”

“Storms of My Grandchildren” is a book that needs to be rewritten. Climate change may be the most important and most complex issue that our generation may need to grasp and James Hansen is the clear authority on the subject. That makes it particularly regrettable that this is only the second book reviewed this year that I do not have overwhelmingly positive comments to post.

As readers with precious little time, we expect to do a consistently strong job of pre-screening reading material. But I picked up this book after hearing Dr. Jim Hansen on NPR. In retrospect, he makes a more compelling presentation verbally than he did in writing. In true scientist style, Hansen makes the points of his contrarian almost as well as his own. This may be an academic merit, but it left me confused as a layman reader. I’m also surprised that his editor(s) acknowledged did not flag him on this point. If I’m fairly certain that my editors would have dogged it for the same reason.

Still, I don’t doubt any of Hansen’s conclusions. He is very likely on target with all of his analysis and climate change forecasts. His passion and activism is personally inspiring. Yet I cannot, after reading this book, compose a concise argument that convincingly favors Hansen’s positions over those of his skeptics, for example, the November 9th comment of our esteemed Governor Christie saying that he is skeptical that human activity is contributing to climate change. As ridiculous as our governor sounds, I couldn’t use my grasp of Hansen to convince him otherwise.

In the end, this book reinforces my belief that leadership in situations that involve highly complex and varied data is perhaps the largest challenge that any human can face. Regrettable, the ability to analyze and communicate is far too often replaced by political spin. Spin is far more compelling and, in this case, economically convenient especially if you have higher political ambitions with the RNC.

Significant terms and discussions introduced in the book include:

“government greenwash”,

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),

sloshing vs. deterministic (p4)

Lovins scenario = best case (p 21)

alarmism (p58)

Planck function (p63) – radiation from absorbed (black soot)

Declaration of Stewardship (p242)

contrarian summary (p280)

Censoring science

350.0rg – Bill McKibben


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *