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This review is from: Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth about the Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity (Paperback)
I researched this subject as thoroughly as I could in 2008 in order to give a layperson's talk on the subject. I read both sides of the debate - Monbiot, Lynas, Pat Michaels, Neil Lawson, Lomborg, Fred Singer, Roy Spencer, Robert Henson, James Lovelock and so on. It seemed to me at the time that the 'contrarians' (as Hansen dubs them) had the most persuasive case. Unfortunately, Hansen's 'Storms of my Grandchildren' was unavailable at the time. Hansen's book is very persuasive. He doesn't rely on climate modelling although he says these can be useful. Instead, his case is based on the paleoclimate record and he draws particular attention to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum event 55m years ago when global warming of between 5-9 degrees Celsius occurred. Apparently one of the major forcings that led to this event was the subcontinent of India crashing into Asia. Hansen is quite certain that the climate is highly sensitive to increases CO2. He argues that if we continue 'business as usual' and burn every last drop of fossil fuels then melting of the ice sheets is inevitable. He writes that they are already being 'softened up' and that an ice-free planet means that sea level will rise 75 metres - 250 feet. This means that future generations will still be able to see the dome of St Paul's Cathedral (365ft) if that is any consolation. This rather puts the January 2014 floods into perspective. Hansen paints an even more dramatic picture of the future of Earth as a Venus-type planet with boiling oceans, as a result of all the amplifying feedbacks. Hansen argues that we need to switch to 'fourth generation' nuclear as quickly as possible and that we have billions of years supply of the necessary fuel. I note that another reviewer on here has contested Hansen's claims on nuclear. What next? I have another book on my shelf by Roy Spencer 'The Great Global Warming Blunder' (2010). Spencer is another NASA scientist who argues that burning fossil fuels may be beneficial. So there is no scientific consensus as yet. No wonder politicians talk green but act dirty on the climate. One thing I am sure about - it does no good to condemn your opponents as 'denialists'. Let's keep the debate going and move as quickly as possible to rational solutions, if indeed homo sapiens is rational enough to save itself and its own habitat.