Storms of My Grandchildren, James Hansen

I wish this were better written because it’s so important and from such an authoritative figure. However, it is hard to read and has skippable political reminiscence passages.

The latter can be summarised in one word – censorship, both by the US administration and NASA muzzling their scientists. This seems to surprise Hansen. He also has touching faith in informing the public. They don’t care, James. They’re only concerned with Strictly Come Dancing and their pay cheques. Effective action will have to bypass them as well as government.

There is some meat: the distinction between climate forcings and feedback loops is a useful clarification. Forcings include CO2, volcanoes, the Earth’s axial tilt and precession (the latter two driving the Pleistocene‘s recurrent ice ages). Feedbacks include Arctic ice cover and hence the planet’s albedo. This is what tips the climate rapidly between hot and cold. Recent news on that front should have the whole of humanity racing for the fire pumps.

This Generation Becalmed

In another section of the book Hansen keeps his thoughts about the legal system mercifully short but does title it “Obstruction of Justice”. I think he’s being ironic: the Law has nothing to do with justice and, like government and the public, needs to be bypassed.

A book for the converted, alas, but I think I’ve already stated that more information isn’t going to kick industrial civilisation out of its inertia anyway.

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