Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Book Review, Storms of My Grandchildren, The Truth About The Coming Climate Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, by James Hansen

An Urgent and Provocative Call to Action from the World's Leading Climate Scientist.

The two sub-titles of this powerful book will be, I think, enough to make you sit up and take notice. If you don't have time to read all the 300+pages, I suggest you read at least the preface and the first two chapters, then skim the next several parts, which are loaded with graphs and scientific data that give the rationale and prove the truth of the claims and warnings that the author gives us. Then read the last half carefully, returning to the parts skimmed if you doubt any of Hansen's assertions or think his urgent warnings and predictions are unfounded.

Hansen's including the names and photos of his own grandchildren gives the book a personal touch, and surely most of the readers have grandchildren or know children of that age. Now is a good time to think of the future and to take seriously the predictions and warnings given by scientists such as James Hansen and others throughout the world. What they say is often prefaced by "when" and not "if." In our day the number of people is growing who are finally waking up to the reality of global warming and climate change, especially as reports of vicious storms, deaths and destruction fill the media. But the slowness to take action is motivated by the lack of "political will", with politics and governments listening more to large corporations such as those dealing with oil, coal, or other fossil fuels than to world scientists whose assertions are based on fact. These corporations devote a large portion of their wealth on employing armies of highly paid lobbyists whose "mission" is to convince government leaders, (who have the power to change present practices), to continue "business as usual, " than to scientific facts. The principal motivation is money.

Hansen gives a devastating view of what will happen in the near future, mere decades and years from now, if we follow the course we're on. For the readers who are not directly involved in government, the best action we can do is threefold: to decrease our own "carbon imprint" and to demand our government leaders to be instrumental in radically influencing (even forcing) our large corporations to conform to the norms that will necessarily be forthcoming. Offer support to President Obama's attempts to follow world scientists' recommendations, rather than to Republican opposition. Our votes do count.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Book Review - Field Notes from a Catastrophe, Man, Nature, and Climate Change, by Elizabeth Colbert.

It seems to me that the earth situation isn't quite a catastrophe yet, but it very well could be, and soon, if we don't correct the problems we've caused. The author claims that already since the late '70's we've been warned of the build-up of carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere, and of the melting of polar ice and the drastic changes in our climate that will result. But despite the warnings, those dire effects are well underway…and she says that by the end of the 21st century the earth will likely be hotter than at any time in the last two million years!  And that the consequences of this will determine the course of life on earth for generations to come! We must learn the causes and how to correct them.

In fact, Kolbert says that already in the 1850's an Irish physicist named John Tyndall, in studying the gases in the atmosphere and their effects on the heat of the sun, came across what is now called the "natural greenhouse effect", which today is considered the cause of global warming and climate change.

Years ago, the author accompanied climate scientists to a resource station in Greenland, where scientists use a thermal auger to drill deep down through the ice sheet and extract "bores" of ice, that were compresses from the original snow, and that they discover snow that fell during the Civil War; even during the Pelonnesian Wars, (2,500 feet down) when cave painters painted,( 5,350 feet), and at the deepest, (10,000 feet), snow that fell on Greenland more than 100,000 years ago. When the fluffy snow melts it turn to ice, which when discovered in this fashion, reveals many ancient secrets.

Now in our age the ice of the Alaskan therma frost, and further south in the Greenland and South Pole's glaciers, is melting at a prodigious rate, and climate scientists having learned from the past, can predict into the future and warn us of future dangers, including fierce storms and even droughts, if we do not curb the growing carbon dioxide in our present and near future. Among all these ice discussion, this book has a chapter entitled "The Butterfly and the Toad," telling us of the effects of climate change on even the tiniest of our creation family's creatures. You would enjoy the book.