Books Read In The Past Several Months

Good afternoon everyone. Things continue to get going in the tropics, and I have been watching, but I wanted to take some time out to mention to you some of the books that I’ve read over the past several months. I hadn’t had much of a chance to read books in recent years due to my work schedule. However, I made it a point this spring to read several books that I bought.

One of the three books was related to hurricanes while the other two dealt with global warming and the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974. Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle Over Global Warming by Chris Mooney was the hurricane related book I read. It talked about the increased debate on the possible link between global warming and increased tropical activity worldwide. The debate was between two camps. One camp, led by Dr. William Gray and consisted of such proteges as Chris Landsea that developed ideas on hurricanes from empirical evidence while the other camp, led by Kerry Emanuel, Peter Webster, and Judith Curry based their beliefs on hurricanes mostly through computer models.

The book also goes into detail on the backgrounds of both Dr. Gray and Emanuel, and where they developed their schools of thought. Mooney also points out how the folks at the National Hurricane Center stood mostly on the sidelines while the debate was taking place. Storm World looks at how the debate became personal between Dr. Gray and others in the field including one of his prized pupils, Greg Holland, who originally felt that there wasn’t a link between global warming, and hurricanes, but as more and more evidence during the 2004 and 2005 seasons came in, began to change his thinking.

Storm World also looked at how the controversy began to make scientists more aware of how they needed to interact with the media about their studies and papers on the subject of global warming and hurricanes. It changed the way they communicated with the public. Some began to take the debate to message boards and other spots on the internet. After the stormy seasons of 2004 and 2005, the number of papers on the subject of global warming and hurricanes increased dramatically. The book also talked about the controversy between the Bush administration, NOAA, and researchers, who felt that they were being censored on the subject. Mooney does a great job of explaining all of this, and putting it all together to present a clear picture on the debate.

Another book on climate change that I read was by Dr. James Hansen, the director of the NASA Goddad Institute and adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University. His book, Storms of My Grandchildren: The Truth About the Coming Catastrophe and Our Last Chance to Save Humanity, discusses the long fight that he has had to overcome government censorship and apathy to get his message across that the planet is in peril. He discusses the different ways and methods that he used to convey his message to the public. He admits that his communication skills aren’t great, but he tries to improve that by doing such things as improving his vocabulary.

He cares very deeply about the subject, and is suspicious of politicians. He believes that money needs to be taken out of politics, and people, particularly our youth, need to get involved and ask the tough questions to our politicians so that the best possible candidates are elected. Hansen talks about how we need to get off coal completely, and that clean coal is just an oxymoron. He adds that if we are unable to get off of coal, we have no grounds to tell the leading oil producing countries such as Saudi Arabia to stop drilling for oil. Hansen has been taking on his battle since the late 1980s when he first warned Congress about climate change. He believes that the planet is at a critical point, and measures must be taken now in order to prevent the warming of the planet from getting out of control.

If you can get through some of his very scientific and detailed discussions on climate, you can find this book interesting, and feel empathetic towards Hansen. I greatly admired the way he tried so hard to get his message out. He tried publishing papers, talking to leaders in not only the United States, but also Great Britain, Germany, and Japan. Hansen also made public speeches, and talks about climate change. Most notably, he battled censorship from the Bush Administration, and refused to be silent. The final book I read was F5: One Town’s Survival of One of the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the Twentieth Century by Mark Levine. The book looked at how Limestone County in Alabama dealt with several deadly tornadoes that were spawned during the Super Tornado Outbreak of 1974.

Levine not only goes into vivid detail about the storms and their effects on the towns in that part of the world, but describes the people affected by the twisters. The book paints a picture of each of the participants before, during, and after the storm. Most importantly, though, not all of these stories have a happy ending, but Levine talks about how these people have endured and moved on since the outbreak. The story of the Super Outbreak of 1974 is given amongst a background of the political scandal that is Watergate, President Nixon’s ultimate resignation, and in the aftermath of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.