The US Economy Seems Hurricane Proof
The Real Lessons of Hurricane Sandy
Technology and human ingenuity can defuse natural disasters that once killed thousands. The recovery from Hurricane Sandy is turning out to be more spectacular than the storm itself. Nature’s fury can be awesome – but man’s resilience and inventiveness is more awesome still. --Fraser Nelson, The Daily Telegraph, 2 November 2012
Hurricanes can cause tremendous destruction and terrible fatalities. But in the U.S, with its massive and diversified economy, history shows little discernable macroeconomic impact from hurricanes. Even hurricane Katrina is difficult to recognize in macroeconomic activity measures and the latest severe example in Sandy is unlikely to prove different. --James Pethokoukis, AEIdeas, 1 November 2012
Viewed narrowly, Hurricane Sandy is a success story. Start with the forecast. Americans were given a week’s heads-up that Hurricane Sandy would track north, and then, instead of veering safely out to the Atlantic, would come ashore somewhere near New Jersey. Then there’s the emergency response. Now the recovery is already underway. Add it all up? America is growing more skilled – and getting better fast – at emergency response to disasters of growing geographical reach, cost, and complexity. --William Hooke, Living in the Real World, 31 October 2012
The only strategies that will help us effectively prepare for future disasters are those that have succeeded in the past: strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations. That is the real lesson of Sandy. --Roger Pielke Jr., The Wall Street Journal, 1 November 2012
What we have in this mad eco-dash to depict storms as monsters is a secular version of the age-old backward practice of treating natural disasters as judgments upon mankind. --Brendan O’Neil, The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 2012
It’s been a tough year for global-warming activists. Temperature trends, based on global numbers collected by U.K. officials, show warming stalled for the past 16 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is in disarray. Disbelief in the alleged “consensus” on the scale of anthropogenic global warming is on the rise. Political interest has been waning. As gloom descended over the warmist camps across the continent, their overheated claims flickering dimly like dying campfires, their cause lost, there suddenly rose in the East a powerful force. Look! What’s that on the horizon? A mighty blast of good news! FRANKENSTORM!!!!!!!!! --Terence Corcoran, Financial Post, 30 October 2012
Scientific American has put up a detailed explanation of why hurricane Sandy may be linked to anthropogenic climate change: a chain of events that, critically, involves the North Atlantic Oscillation nudged towards a negative state by the melting of Arctic sea-ice. On the other hand, Realclimate explained in 2007 that climate change was threatening the Mediterranean region with more severe droughts because climate change would nudge the North Atlantic Oscillation towards a positive state. The IPCC model suite of 2007 would show these trends very clearly. This seems harder to understand than the wave-particle dualism, but the explanation is easy: both arguments are realizations of a certain sort of climate noise. –Eduardo, Klimazwiebel, 1 November 2012
1) The US Economy Seems Hurricane Proof - AEIdeas, 1 November 2012
2) Normalized US Hurricane Damage 1900-2012, Including Sandy - Roger Pielke Jr., 1 November 2012
3) Reality Check: The US Has Had 285 Hurricane Strikes Since 1850 - Real Science, 1 November 2012
4) Fraser Nelson: The Real Lesson of Hurricane Sandy - The Daily Telegraph, 2 November 2012
5) Roger Pielke Jr: Hurricanes and Human Choice - The Wall Street Journal, 1 November 2012
6) William Hooke: Hurricane Sandy’s Real Lesson… Will We Learn It? - Living in the Real World, 31 October 2012
7) Brendan O’Neil: Hurricane Sandy And Medieval Blame Games - The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 2012
8) Terence Corcoran, Frankenscience - Financial Post, 30 October 2012
9) And Finally: Sandy - The Perfect Spin - Klimazwiebel, 1 November 2012
1) The US Economy Seems Hurricane Proof
AEIdeas, 1 November 2012
Hurricanes can cause tremendous destruction and terrible fatalities. But in the U.S, with its massive and diversified economy, their impact is tough to see from the macro level.
In the aftermath of hurricane carnage of historic scope in the highly populated U.S. mid Atlantic, a huge impact on living conditions in New York and New Jersey should be expected for at least some weeks. At the same time, history shows little discernable macroeconomic impact from hurricanes. Even hurricane Katrina is difficult to recognize in macroeconomic activity measures and the latest severe example in Sandy is unlikely to prove different.
Storm preparations and repair alter categories of spending, weakening discretionary activity for a time while boosting “staples.” The destruction impacts wealth and boosts output measures through reconstruction over several quarters, though even in the latest case this may be difficult to measure across macro statistics and industry-level data.
Labor productivity and incomes are weakened for a time and non-labor costs for business rise as transportation and other bottlenecks arise in affected areas. But unlike the earthquake in Japan, there appears to be no lasting damage to major U.S. production facilities that would severely harm U.S. output potential.
2) Normalized US Hurricane Damage 1900-2012, Including Sandy
Roger Pielke Jr., 1 November 2012
The graph above shows normalized US hurricane damage, based on data from ICAT, which applies an extension to the methodology of Pielke et al. 2008. The 2012 estimate for Sandy comes from Moody's, and is an estimate. The red line represents a linear best fit to the data -- it is flat.
3) Reality Check: The US Has Had 285 Hurricane Strikes Since 1850
Real Science, 1 November 2012
Team climate moron tells us that the US is now vulnerable to hurricanes, due to climate change.
The US has always been vulnerable to hurricanes. Eighty-six percent of US hurricane strikes occurred with CO2 below Hansen’s safe level of 350 PPM.
4) Fraser Nelson: The Real Lesson of Hurricane Sandy
The Daily Telegraph, 2 November 2012
Anyone who loves New York will be familiar with the moment, during the cab ride from the airport, when the Manhattan skyline comes into view and the heart misses a beat. It’s odd; there is nothing inherently beautiful about seeing concrete spires crammed absurdly on to the end of an island. The beauty lies in what it all represents: a city founded by immigrants, who built skyscrapers as if to challenge the Atlantic storms to do their worst.
The city of New York always has been a paean to human achievement – but seldom more than it is this week. The recovery from Hurricane Sandy is turning out to be more spectacular than the storm itself. The New York marathon is to proceed as planned on Sunday, sending 50,000 runners down streets where taxis were floating just a few days ago. A subway system which was deluged with seawater on Tuesday has already started to roar back to life. The New York Stock Exchange was open again after just two days, and was ashamed to have closed for even that long. Broadway shows have reopened. Work has begun pumping 86 million gallons of water from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel.
The city’s true resilience, however, lay in the way that people helped each other, in a thousand different ways. “I have power and hot water,” wrote Rob Hart of Staten Island on Facebook. “If anyone needs a shower or to charge some gadgets or just wants to bask in the beauty of artificial light, hit me up.” When the street lights went out, traffic was kept moving by volunteers. The city’s finest steakhouses sold cut-price sirloins in the street; other restaurants gave food away free. Before and after the flood, there was amazingly little sign of panic. The city was, as Walt Whitman once put it, “sane, unruly, musical, self-sufficient”.
For decades, now, mankind has been getting far better at dealing with whatever nature has to throw at us. We have the technology to cope with most things, from building skyscrapers that can stand up to hurricanes to making cities spring from the desert. It’s not just America: modern Israel was made possible by ingenious ways of turning scrubland into farms. Dubai has tamed the elements to the extent that it offers year-round skiing, on the world’s first indoor slope. World over, towns stand on places regarded a generation or two ago as uninhabitable.
Had Superstorm Sandy struck five years ago, we would by now be hearing all manner of theories linking it to climate change or murky claims that it represented Gaia’s revenge. But as science evolves, the hysteria is draining out of the climate change debate – and a new rationalism taking its place. We might not be sure that we can make any meaningful difference to its trajectory, but we know that we can adapt to it.
In the old days, prime ministers would jet off to climate summits, making Flash Gordon-style declarations about there being only so many hours left to save the world. If you believed that the planet is warming, and that human activity is at least in part to blame (which I do) then you were asked to sign up to all manner of carbon-cutting schemes, regardless of what they’d accomplish. Environmentalism became the new Live Aid. Posters linked third-world floods to wasteful British household habits.
It has since become harder to sustain such simplistic, emotive claims. The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change admitted that the extent of mankind’s influence on extreme weather events is uncertain – and may not be clear for another 30 years. Fossil fuel consumption in the rich world peaked five years ago; the rise now comes from poorer countries, where millions are living longer, better (and yes, more carbon-intensive) lives. It would be impossible, not to say sadistic, to try to impede such progress.
So rising carbon emissions are, to a significant extent, a side effect of alleviating global poverty. And poverty is by far a bigger killer than climate. At least 74 people died from Superstorm Sandy, but had a similar storm struck Asia, the toll could have run into the thousands. A recent MIT study into natural disasters between 1980 and 2002 found that America suffered an average of 17 deaths per windstorm, compared to almost 2,000 in Bangladesh. The average flood cost six lives in the former, but 210 in the latter. It wasn’t that the storms were more severe or more frequent – just that America had the money to cope better.
When environmentalists predict doom for countries like Bangladesh, this is what they forget. Their computer models assume that as sea levels rise, millions of Bangladeshis will become environmental refugees by 2050. But the same model assumes that Bangladesh will, by then, be as rich as Britain is today. If so, it is fairly likely that it will be able to afford the odd flood defence.
The weather is not, by itself, a killer: what matters is how prepared you are. Already, Bangladesh is making incredible progress. Its government scientists say that its land mass is expanding, not contracting, a trend that is set to continue as they get better at building dams.
Had environmentalists been looking at the Netherlands a century ago, they would have concluded that the Dutch were doomed. Two thirds of the country is vulnerable to flooding, and the population density has long been among the highest in Europe. But it also has the world’s best dams, which can cope with the flooding expected in 3,999 out of every 4,000 years. Schiphol Airport, one of the world’s biggest, stands on what was once a large lake. Our technology for dealing with water is evolving faster than the sea levels are rising.
Of course, while America’s storms are not as lethal as they once were, its droughts – and its government policies – still can be. The Midwest’s long, dry summer has sent global food prices towards what the United Nations regards as crisis levels.
And a significant part of the pain, which will be felt worldwide, will be inflicted by rules mandating that two fifths of maize crops are used to make ethanol, an environmentally friendly car fuel. In this way, policies designed to slow global warming may end up inflicting more harm than global warming itself.
How, then, to respond? It’s easy to see the harm that anti-carbon policies inflict, but it’s far less easy to see what they achieve. We have imposed levies on fuel bills to subsidise wind farms, making it expensive to heat homes in winter. We have added charges to air fares, taxing the poor out of the sky. And to what end? Will all this do anything more than delay the effect of global warming by a few years? If this is about saving lives, then isn’t it better to spend money in a way that helps poor countries develop?
When a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil, we may well get a tornado on the coast of Florida. Or we may just get an exhausted butterfly in Rio. We simply don’t know: we’re still not much good at predicting the weather, and changing the climate several decades from now may well prove far beyond our capabilities. But the lesson of New York is that we are rather good at preparing for the weather, and needn’t live in fear of it.
Nature’s fury can be awesome – but man’s resilience and inventiveness is more awesome still.
5) Roger Pielke Jr: Hurricanes and Human Choice
The Wall Street Journal, 1 November 2012
The only strategies that will help us effectively prepare for future disasters are those that have succeeded in the past: strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations. That is the real lesson of Sandy.
Hurricane Sandy left in its path some impressive statistics. Its central pressure was the lowest ever recorded for a storm north of North Carolina, breaking a record set by the devastating “Long Island Express” hurricane of 1938. Along the East Coast, Sandy led to more than 50 deaths, left millions without power and caused an estimated $20 billion or more in damage.
But to call Sandy a harbinger of a “new normal,” in which unprecedented weather events cause unprecedented destruction, would be wrong. This historic storm should remind us that planet Earth is a dangerous place, where extreme events are commonplace and disasters are to be expected. In the proper context, Sandy is less an example of how bad things can get than a reminder that they could be much worse.
In studying hurricanes, we can make rough comparisons over time by adjusting past losses to account for inflation and the growth of coastal communities. If Sandy causes $20 billion in damage (in 2012 dollars), it would rank as the 17th most damaging hurricane or tropical storm (out of 242) to hit the U.S. since 1900—a significant event, but not close to the top 10. The Great Miami Hurricane of 1926 tops the list (according to estimates by the catastrophe-insurance provider ICAT), as it would cause $180 billion in damage if it were to strike today. Hurricane Katrina ranks fourth at $85 billion.
To put things into even starker perspective, consider that from August 1954 through August 1955, the East Coast saw three different storms make landfall—Carol, Hazel and Diane—that in 2012 each would have caused about twice as much damage as Sandy.
While it’s hardly mentioned in the media, the U.S. is currently in an extended and intense hurricane “drought.” The last Category 3 or stronger storm to make landfall was Wilma in 2005. The more than seven years since then is the longest such span in over a century.
Flood damage has decreased as a proportion of the economy since reliable records were first kept by the National Weather Service in the 1930s, and there is no evidence of increasing extreme river floods. Historic tornado damage (adjusted for changing levels of development) has decreased since 1950, paralleling a dramatic reduction in casualties. Although the tragic impacts of tornadoes in 2011 (including 553 confirmed deaths) were comparable only to those of 1953 and 1964, such tornado impacts were far more common in the first half of the 20th century.
The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports that drought in America’s central plains has decreased in recent decades. And even when extensive drought occurs, we fare better. For example, the widespread 2012 drought was about 10% as costly to the U.S. economy as the multiyear 1988-89 drought, indicating greater resiliency of American agriculture.
There is therefore reason to believe we are living in an extended period of relatively good fortune with respect to disasters. A recurrence of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake today, for example, could cause more than $300 billion in damage and thousands of lives, according to a study I co-published in 2009.
So how can today’s disasters, even if less physically powerful than previous ones, have such staggering financial costs? One reason: There are more people and more wealth in harm’s way. Partly this is due to local land-use policies, partly to incentives such as government-subsidized insurance, but mostly to the simple fact that people like being on the coast and near rivers.
Even so, with respect to disasters we really do make our own luck. The relatively low number of casualties caused by Sandy is a testament to the success story that is the U.S. National Weather Service and parallel efforts of those who emphasize preparedness and emergency response in the public and private sectors. Everyone in the disaster-management community deserves thanks; the mitigation of the impacts from natural disasters has been a true national success story of the past century.
But continued success isn’t guaranteed. The bungled response and tragic consequences associated with Hurricane Katrina tell us what can happen when we let our guard down.
And there are indications that we are setting the stage for making future disasters worse. For instance, a U.S. polar-satellite program crucial to weather forecasting has been described by the administrator of the federal agency that oversees it—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—as a “dysfunctional program that had become a national embarrassment due to chronic management problems.” The lack of effective presidential and congressional oversight of this program over more than a decade can be blamed on both Republicans and Democrats. The program’s mishandling may mean a gap in satellite coverage and a possible degradation in forecasts.
Another danger: Public discussion of disasters risks being taken over by the climate lobby and its allies, who exploit every extreme event to argue for action on energy policy. In New York this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared: “I think at this point it is undeniable but that we have a higher frequency of these extreme weather situations and we’re going to have to deal with it.” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke similarly.
Humans do affect the climate system, and it is indeed important to take action on energy policy—but to connect energy policy and disasters makes little scientific or policy sense. There are no signs that human-caused climate change has increased the toll of recent disasters, as even the most recent extreme-event report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finds. And even under the assumptions of the IPCC, changes to energy policies wouldn’t have a discernible impact on future disasters for the better part of a century or more.
The only strategies that will help us effectively prepare for future disasters are those that have succeeded in the past: strategic land use, structural protection, and effective forecasts, warnings and evacuations. That is the real lesson of Sandy.
Mr. Pielke is a professor of environmental studies and a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado.
6) William Hooke: Hurricane Sandy’s Real Lesson… Will We Learn It?
Living in the Real World, 31 October 2012
Viewed narrowly, Hurricane Sandy is a success story. Start with the forecast. Americans were given a week’s heads-up that Hurricane Sandy would track north, and then, instead of veering safely out to the Atlantic, would come ashore somewhere near New Jersey and slowly work inland before reorganizing and heading north through Canada. Social media gurus like Nate Silver and Andrew Sullivan took notice. Our own community’s Mike Smith called it “(forecasters’) finest hour.”
Then there’s the emergency response. Emergency managers took fullest advantage of their week to prepare. We saw a remarkable mobilization at federal, state, and local levels, accompanied by private-sector collaboration with respect to critical infrastructure: the power grid, communications, gas and water utilities, sewage, and much more. There was some roughness around the edges. The normal emergency procedures were overwhelmed by the severity of events at a number of points. There was some political-level friction across state boundaries and between state- and local levels. But still and all, the response maintained remarkable focus, combining with media coverage to keep the US death toll as low as fifty.
Now the recovery is already underway. The utilities are out in force, bringing back power to the eight million or so people who lack it. The Corp of Engineers is bringing in its National Unwatering SWAT Team to help NYC get all those millions of gallons of water out of miles of subway track. [Our country has a National Unwatering SWAT Team? Who knew? Kudos to USACE.] Thousands of companies, agencies, NGO’s and individuals are mobilizing to get the East Coast back to normal. New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christy said it well: “(Tuesday) was a day to mourn the losses; (Wednesday) we start to rebuild.”
Add it all up? America is growing more skilled – and getting better fast – at emergency response to disasters of growing geographical reach, cost, and complexity.
But we can and should do more. Fifty lives lost to Sandy, though smaller than the seventy deaths reported from the Caribbean, nevertheless represents too much grief and suffering. That early estimate of $10-$20B in losses has already escalated to $5-10B insured losses and overall costs of $30-50B. Any final accounting will probably show the cost of this disaster to be more comparable to Hurricane Katrina than Hurricane Irene. A big hit even for the U.S. $14T-dollar economy just as it’s finally starting to recover from the financial-sector meltdown of 2008. The prospect of a continuing stream of such events in the future of ever-greater magnitude? Unacceptable. In short…
America needs a comparable national effort and accompanying long-term investment in reducing the need for emergency response on such a grand scale.
The need for emergency response will never go away. But we shouldn’t resign ourselves to the idea that emergencies will necessarily continue to grow in scope, number and impact, just because our society is growing in numbers, in property exposure, and in economic activity. We can grow our society’s resilience to such events. We can reduce the geographical extent and the population adversely affected by future events.
7) Brendan O’Neil: Hurricane Sandy And Medieval Blame Games
The Daily Telegraph, 30 October 2012
What we have in this mad eco-dash to depict storms as monsters is a secular version of the age-old backward practice of treating natural disasters as judgments upon mankind.
After every natural disaster that occurs these days, we do two things. First, we guffaw or shake our heads in stern disapproval at those religious freaks who blame said disaster on mankind’s sin. And second, we nod in vigorous agreement with those eco-experts who blame said disaster on man-made climate change. And yet, the impulse behind both forms of finger-pointing, behind both the Bible basher’s harebrained claims that deviant people brought this disaster upon mankind and the environmentalist’s insistence that the disaster is actually the fault of industry and pollution, is the same – it’s about doing that very Medieval thing of finding someone or something to blame for scary natural occurrences. Only where Christian zealots blame sinning mankind, green zealots blame industrious mankind.
So in relation to Hurricane Sandy, we’ve all had a good old laugh at the American preacher who says the storm is “God’s judgment on gays” and also on President Obama for supporting gay marriage. How backward to treat a storm, a violent whim of nature, as a sentient force that is trying tosay something to humankind! And yet, other claims that this storm is speaking to us, shouting at us, in fact, about our wicked or careless behaviour, are treated deadly seriously. So the Washington Post has published a piece by an eco-warrior who believes Sandy is the product of “global weirding” (that’s what greens freaked out by the lack of hard evidence for planetary warming have rechristened “global warming”), who tells us: “A wounded earth is speaking – are you listening?” Another eco-commentator chastises both Obama and Romney for refusing to talk about climate change in the current presidential campaign, and says that through Sandy, “the climate is now speaking to them – and to everyone else”.
So what is the climate “saying” to us? Basically that we have been bad, greedy, so obsessed with development and growth that we have let our planet fall into disrepair. In a video commentary that eerily echoes those issued by Christian cranks in the wake of every natural disaster, the influential American green Bill McKibben declares, “It’s really important that everybody, even those who aren’t in the kind of path of this storm, reflect about what it means… We really, finally need to have this reckoning – either the fossil fuel industry keeps pouring carbon into the atmosphere and we keep seeing this kind of event, or we take some action.” The idea that a storm “means” something, that it has sentience, ideas, purpose, something for us to reflect on, is as daft when it is dressed up in green-leaning lingo as it is when it’s dolled up in Biblical nonsense. What McKibben is really saying is that mankind must reflect on his behaviour and change it. No, not by having less gay sex, but by stopping being so greedy.
The application of sentience to Sandy is clear in the way it has been branded a “Frankenstorm”, by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration no less. The science world’s transformation of Sandy from a storm into a monster, into Mother Nature’s equivalent of Dr Frankenstein’s beast, has got eco-observers all excited. These storms are “stitched together from some spooky combination of the natural and the unnatural”, says one, in the Daily Beast. Apparently, “this particular monster” is an “assault from the amped-up forces of the not-so-natural world”. That is, our unnatural behaviour, our carbon-reliant lifestyles, created this storm. Where Christian crazies blame “unnatural” gay sex for bad weather, eco-warriors blame “unnatural” industrial progress. Elsewhere, Sandy is described as “Mother Nature’s wake-up call”, as the“fingerprint of climate change” (a secular variation of the finger-pointing judgment of God), and as a form of moral communication, in which“Mother Nature keeps coming back at us and saying: Look, I’m getting warmer”.
What we have in this mad eco-dash to depict storms as monsters is a secular version of the age-old backward practice of treating natural disasters as judgments upon mankind. This was taken to its logical conclusion on a radical website called Climate and Capitalism, which argues that carbon-spouting fat-cat companies created Sandy. “How the 1 per cent created a monster”, runs the headline. Is it really any more progressive to blame natural disasters on the decadence of the well-off than it is to blame it on the alleged decadence of homosexuals? No amount of pointing at pie charts can disguise the fact that Sandy-exploiting greens are peddling the same medieval prejudices as cranky Christian preachers. The profound irony being that, far from being a disaster for mankind, development and progress have been an enormous, life-saving boon. Just look at the difference in Sandy’s impact on New York and its impact on poor, undeveloped Haiti, where there was far more destruction. How perverse to accuse growth and development of causing disaster, when the evidence suggests they protect us from it.
8) Terence Corcoran, Frankenscience
Financial Post, 30 October 2012
It’s been a tough year for global-warming activists. Temperature trends, based on global numbers collected by U.K. officials, show warming stalled for the past 16 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is in disarray. Disbelief in the alleged “consensus” on the scale of anthropogenic global warming is on the rise. Political interest has been waning, in Canada and especially the United States, where the presidential candidates did not even mention climate change over three debates, to the chagrin of many.
As gloom descended over the warmist camps across the continent, their overheated claims flickering dimly like dying campfires, their cause lost, there suddenly rose in the East a powerful force. Look! What’s that on the horizon? A mighty blast of good news! FRANKENSTORM!!!!!!!!!
We are saved! As news broke of a big hurricane coming, the hype machine at Environmental Defence Fund sent out emails to media on Sunday, urging reporters (“Dear journalist … ”) to contact EDF’s chief scientist, Steve Hamburg, who would draw the link between carbon emissions and the coming Frankenstorm. The Natural Resources Defence Fund tweeted the blessed arrival of Sandy. Soon the idea was in all the media where such junk science routinely finds a home: The Huffington Post, The Atlantic, blogs at The Washington Post, plus hundreds of websites where man-made climate change is an obsession. At The New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert blogged: “Coming as it is just a week before Election Day, Sandy makes the fact that climate change has been entirely ignored during this campaign seem all the more grotesque.”
A major effort to turn hurricane Sandy into an election issue is underway. Bill McKibben, author and co-founder of the radical carbon-reduction organization 350.org, was out Monday to describe Sandy as “really something that we haven’t seen before.” Frankenstorm, he said, “is really the right name for it,” as he linked the hurricane to man-made climate change, Mitt Romney and “the most powerful and richest industry on earth.” Big oil caused the big storm.
Along with others, Mr. McKibben offered up Sandy as proof of climate catastrophism — despite lack of any science to support such a claim. Welcome to the world of Frankenscience, where claims are made that have no substance and causal links are stated that are not supported by real scientists — including scientists who believe that man-made global warming is a problem.
The publisher of the official bibles of climate science, the IPCC, said it has little or no science to back claims that man-made climate change is responsible for current weather events. An IPCC report actually said that future climate change might boost some regional tropical storm activity but that the total number of hurricanes would likely “either decrease or remain essentially unchanged.”
If the IPCC says that man-made climate change would be unlikely to increase hurricanes, how can one hurricane — no matter how freakish — serve as a proxy for climate change? Roger Pielke Jr., a professor at the University of Colorado’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, says such links are impossible to make. In a paper he co-authored in 2010, Prof. Pielke found that, based on the existing climate models, man-made climate signals “are very unlikely to emerge in U.S. tropical cyclone losses at time scales of less than a century.” The overall time scale for such evidence is likely somewhere between 120 and 550 years.
So far, however, there is no sign of climate-driven hurricane activity. In an interview Monday, Prof. Pielke said there are no signs of a trend in hurricane activity. “We’ve done long-term trends with respect to hurricane damage in the United States, and it’s very safe to say that regardless of how [Sandy] plays out, there’s a century-long time series with no trend in it — and that’s in damage, the number of landfalls, or the intensity of storms at landfall. So, if you are looking for signals of long-term climate change, focusing in on any one storm is the wrong way to go about it to begin with.”
Most scientists, even proponents of anthromorphic climate change as a danger to mankind, shy away from any direct claims. Kevin Trenberth, a scientist with the National Center for Atmospheric Research, has in the past limited his warnings to future events. “The global-warming influence provides a new background level that increases the risk of future enhancements in hurricane activity.” In a Web posting Monday, he was just as tentative as he joined other scientists with a qualified statement based on the possibility that currently slightly higher ocean temperatures could be creating “perhaps optimal conditions” for a huge intense storm.
Even if Sandy turns out to be a record breaker, however, it appears to add nothing to support or take away from the grand theories of man-made climate change. Prof. Pielke says, “Trying to wage the climate battle, day by day, weather event by weather, leads you down a pretty slippery slope of bad science.” It’s a slope many are more than willing go down, and now they have the winds of Sandy at their backs.
9) And Finally: Sandy And The Perfect Spin
Klimazwiebel, 1 November 2012
Scientific American has put up a detailed explanation of why hurricane Sandy may be linked to anthropogenic climate change: a chain of events that, critically, involves the North Atlantic Oscillation nudged towards a negative state by the melting of Arctic sea-ice.
On the other hand, Realclimate explained in 2007 that climate change was threatening the Mediterranean region with more severe droughts because climate change would nudge the North Atlantic Oscillation towards a positive state. The IPCC model suite of 2007 would show these trends very clearly.
This seems harder to understand than the wave-particle dualism, but the explanation is easy: both arguments are realizations of a certain sort of climate