Environment

Hansen's Inconvenient Book

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorNov 30, 2009 5:11 AM

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At some point, ClimateGate will run its course in the coming weeks and people will start paying attention to James Hansen's first book, Storms of My Grandchildren, due out in December. The odd thing is that mainstream climate advocates might get a change of topic with Hansen, but it won't necessarily be to their liking. That will be obvious to anyone who reads his book, which I preview here for Nature. Regardless, no can dispute Hansen's heart-felt conviction. There's one passage in Storms of my Grandchildren that I found quite poignant, but which I couldn't fit into my piece. I tend to think the incident he recounts marks a symbolic turning point in his life, in which all his gathering emotions and increasing frustrations are brought to the surface. It comes a little over 100 pages into the book, when Hansen is describing election day 2004. Late that night, after it becomes evident to him that Bush would be re-elected, Hansen and his wife decide to return from their Pennsylvania home to New York City, where he works:

It is a half-hour drive over two-way roads between our house and the interstate highway. As we came around a curve, suddenly there was a deer in front of us. I hit the brakes, losing steering control, unable to react fast enough. We slammed into the deer, whose body was hurtled down the road. We sat stunned for several seconds. The deer lay motionless, apparently dead. Then, at age sixty-three, for the first time since childhood, I burst into tears. I am not sure if I was crying for the deer, the nation, or the planet.

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