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Will Hurricane Sandy Get Politicians to Pull their Heads Out of the Sand?

Dan Lashof

Posted October 27, 2012 in Solving Global Warming

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Another monster storm is bearing down on the Eastern United States, prompting yet another mad scramble to rearrange travel plans, prep for power outages and dig in for potential damage.

When are we going to do more to address the causes of climate change, rather than react to its effects?

We don’t know yet what Hurricane Sandy will leave in its wake as it tears its way toward the Northeast United States -  although meteorologists are already warning that this “Frankenstorm” could be another billion-dollar disaster – or as one put it, “an economic and human disaster on multiple levels,” if it makes landfall near Long Island or Northern New Jersey.

But here’s what we do know:

This mega-storm is just one more sign of the new normal that will continue as long as we keep avoiding addressing climate change.

Just like the unprecedented droughts, flooding and heat we all experienced this year, storms like Hurricane Sandy is what global warming looks like.

This is the new normal.

In a nutshell, global warming heats up our oceans and loads hurricanes and other storms with extra energy, making them more violent, increasing the amount of rainfall and high winds they deliver and making flooding more likely.

Global warming also leads to rising sea levels, which boosts storm surges, and in turn lead to more severe flooding.

Sea levels stretching from Boston to Norfolk, Va. are rising four times as fast as the global average, making the region more vulnerable to flooding.

Sea temperatures are also warmer. September saw the second-highest global ocean temperatures on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Off the Northeast United States in particular, sea surface temperatures are about five degrees above average.

There is nothing we can do about Sandy except get prepared, but there are solutions to prevent climate change from fueling ever more extreme weather.

Carbon pollution is the main reason our planet is getting hotter, increasing the number and severity of weather disasters and hurting our health.

We can cut carbon pollution by using energy more efficiently, cleaning up our power plants and increasing our use of renewable energy.

We can also start preparing for climate change - beyond ensuring that there are fresh batteries in the flashlight and canned goods in the cupboard.

Cities and states, for example, can implement policies to avert flooding, protect drinking water supplies and prepare for health crises and other emergencies that follow storms, fires and flooding.

But most importantly, we must quit ignoring the issue of climate change, and start addressing it.

We must do more than just react only before the next disaster is about to strike.

Climate change has been a non-issue during this political season, as the New York Times pointed out this week. While there has been plenty of media coverage of Hurricane Sandy already, almost none of it has included the connections with climate change.

The lack of attention belies what we’re all experiencing.

This year, we had the hottest January to June ever recorded in the United States.

We had the largest drought declared in more than 50 years.

We’ve already experienced one of the most destructive “derecho” storms in history, as well as record rainfall and flooding across much of America.

With Hurricane Sandy now on its way, the picture is clear.

More Americans can now see it. When will our politicians and government leaders catch up?

And when will they start addressing the problem with the urgency that it deserves?

 

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Comments

Nancy StrueverOct 27 2012 05:33 PM

As Al Gore said: the least possible useful reaction to climate change is already far too expensive politically. Change the politics.

jim karlockOct 28 2012 12:10 AM

You ask---When are we going to do more to address the causes of climate change

I answer---When someone actually proves that man's CO2 is causing climate disruption. You seem pretty convinced, can we see your proof?

Of course you know that Nature puts out 96% of the CO2 compared to man’s 4%, that Al Gore's ice cores show CO2 increases FOLLOW temperature by about 800 years, that unusual weather, melting glaciers, etc., is not proof that man is the cause, that the climate was warmer in the medieval, Roman, Egyptian and Minoan times and water vapor causes more greenhouse effect than CO2.

So just what is the evidence anyway?

Thanks
JK

JakoOct 28 2012 04:45 AM

It's such a BS and emotional tactic to claim Sandy has ANYTHING to do with anthropogenic global warming. That's so unscientific it makes my scientific blood boil. So dear Dan... quit your job.. you're giving us a very bad name!

greetings from Europe...

GeeyoreOct 28 2012 09:56 AM

Right. There were never any hurricanes or tropical storms in the mid-Atlantic US before 1980.

Per usual, cannot discern whether AGW alarmists are rent-seeking prevaricators or just plain dumb.

Ciramor Oct 28 2012 10:08 AM

thank you for your time to write an article base on facts that inform all decent intellect people. excuse those deniers out there making negative comments and align their views like Glenn liar Beck etc..either you believe or not of the climate change, respecting and loving the mother earth will cause no harm but good.

Dan LashofOct 28 2012 10:39 AM

I have obviously touched a nerve, so let’s be clear. There have been storms in the past. There have been droughts in the past. But during the course of human history there have never been storms and droughts with as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as there is today. As I wrote before (http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/dlashof/smoking_causes_cancer_carbon_p.html) the concentration of carbon dioxide has increased by 40%. Excess carbon dioxide traps excess heat in the atmosphere. Excess heat causes extreme heat waves, droughts, and storms.
I’m far from the only person to point this out. See, for example, this nice summary in the LA Times: “Hurrican Sandy as ‘super storm’: Is climate change a factor?” http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-hurricane-sandy-heads-to-northeast-20121027,0,3886956.story

Joe DOct 28 2012 11:16 AM

The LA Times is the first place I turn for good science. Give me a break. Ciramor we all love nature and care about the planet, but CO2 is a benefactor not a problem. It invigorates plants makes them more productive and drought resistant. That is how we got out of this drought driven by a very COLD Pacific La Nina in 2010/11/12 with corn and bean production well above that of the last similar drought in 1988. Superstorms come from cooling and increased contrast not from warming. The 1950s hurricanes were at the start of the last cold period that lasted till 1979. The 17 major snowstorms in the east since 2000 have been due to an earth beginning to cool. Atlantic is still in its warm mode (it lags the Pacific by 10+ years). It is why we have seen more Atlantic storms although globally the Accumulated Cyclone Energy Index globally was at a 40 year low. This cold period that has started with a 16 year flatlining of global temperatures (UK Hadley) will accelerate down when the Atlantic cools in 5 years of so and dwindling solar input as the sun is heading into a minimum like the Dalton in the early 1800s.

Lens FocusOct 28 2012 03:28 PM

” … In climate research and modelling, we should recognise that we are dealing
with a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore that the
long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
From the 3rd IPCC report, Section 14.2 “The Climate System”, page 774.

And they say the science is settled.

I hear Gomer again. Well, Gooollyy! Surprize! Surprize! Surprize!

CO2 was exhaled during the creation of this post. No living thing was harmed. Some even liked it.

KarlOct 28 2012 03:29 PM

There seems to be plenty of evidence to disprove the link between East Coast hurricane events and CAGW,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_York_hurricanes

Don SimpsonOct 28 2012 03:55 PM

There Is no scientific evidence linking weather and co2 emmissions. Global warming may or may not be occurring but linking it to a weather event is a real stretch that is not supported by scientific evidence.

Erin ShanahanOct 28 2012 09:19 PM

Some important information which is relevant to this story would be historical information. Have their been storms like this one in the past? Answer. Yes. When? What was the CO2 level at that time? Dan should have checked 1938, 1944, 1950, 1954. All happening between Sept. 26 and Nov. 26. That's interesting. I thought storms like this were unprecedented. Oh well I guess this is just politics. I'll go back to reading my science blogs now.

Chance11Oct 28 2012 09:34 PM

good article dan!..we could trust these self serving amateur wannabe intellectuals who deny facts or people that actually know

OVER 97% of the USA's publishing climate scientists,

the American Medical Association,

34 separate scientific academies, including ones from almost every major country in the world that HAS a scientific academy,

the National Research Council,

the Royal Society of the United Kingdom,

the American Geophysical Union

the European Geosciences Union,

the Geological Society of America,

the American Meteorological Society,

the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,

the Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society,

the World Health Organization,

and so on (the list is VERY LONG)until one has NAMED EVERY SINGLE MAJOR SCIENTIFIC ORGANIZATION in the WORLD with a reason to be concerned about global warming

Craig KingOct 29 2012 03:38 AM

Well I do find this article discouraging. There have been plenty of storms/hurricanes in the region even before the current fixation on man made CO2 got going.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/10/26/even-nasa-has-gotten-into-the-frankenstorm-meme/

You will see in the article a long list going back to the 1800's of hurricanes in October.

You need to stop this kind of deception before it ruins any reputation you might have.

jim karlockOct 29 2012 05:43 AM

Dan Lashof — Oct 28 2012 10:39 AM — There have been storms in the past. There have been droughts in the past. But during the course of human history there have never been storms and droughts with as much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as there is today.
JK-------- How is this evidence that man’s CO2 is the cause?

You just said there were storms and droughts in the past WITHOUT man’s CO2. Where is the evidence that the latest storms/droughts were caused by man’s CO2, while the earlier ones were NOT?

Thanks
JK

kevin kingOct 29 2012 04:19 PM

Comment removed. We welcome all viewpoints and civil conversation. Personal or ad hominem attacks are not okay, and will be removed. – Switchboard editors

Charles HigleyOct 29 2012 06:35 PM

The new normal is having to constantly point out that atmospheric energy has been low for 6-10 years and that this is a minor hurricane. When the damage tops $46 billion in 1940 dollars, it will be a bad one. The hype of a slow-moving category 1 hurricane, when there has not been a category 3 or greater hurricane making landfall in SEVEN years, indicates poor judgment or a shill for Al Gore's global warming scam.

Charles HigleyOct 29 2012 07:26 PM

All of this is really irrelevant as no gas of any kind can warm the climate as they claim. It's simply impossible for a cold gas to warm a warmer surface.

The claim that the Laws of Thermodynamics do not apply here is patently false. As water vapor is part of the huge heat engine of the water cycle, physically transporting about 85% of the energy to altitude, where it is lost to space after adiabatic cooling, water vapor and convection are a massive negative feedback mechanism.

Our warming and cooling are controlled by ocean cycles, two of which flipped to their cooling phases in 2006, and solar output. Sol has recently been going to sleep as the solar system barycenter moves away from Sol's center and will be wandering around its surface for 10 decades or so. We have the makings of a Maunder Minimum 2.0, folks.

CO2 cannot warm the climate and the 3% we contribute is meaningless. However, we do need more CO2 to allow our food supply to keep up as we cool. CO2 is plant food which makes plants more cold and warm temperature tolerant and use water and nutrients more efficiently. We need more not less!

The whole manmade global warming scam was thought up by a group of environmentalist/socialists in the 1980s.

Quote by Club of Rome: “In searching for a new enemy to unite us, we came up with the idea that pollution, the threat of global warming, water shortages, famine and the like would fit the bill….All these dangers are caused by human intervention….and thus the “real enemy, then, is humanity itself . . ."

It is a plot to create a one-world government that would have to be totalitarian and socialist with minimal human rights and freedoms and all other aspects of Earth placed above the welfare of man. A conspiracy? Nope. It's in print as the UN's Agenda 21. Read it!

Charles HigleyOct 29 2012 07:38 PM

The video in the article is nothing but propaganda. The drought was not as severe by far as was reported, crops are down 8%, and would be a bumper crop in 1988. The world crop yield is indeed a record year!

Forest fires were down 25% this year and the season ended early. The fires were bad when they did occur as we have stupidly prevented natural fires for 40 years and now have all of that shrubbery and old wood accumulated burning at un-naturally high temperatures. It's our fault that Smokey Bear did too good a job. Natural burns have been allowed in some areas and their fires have been mild and manageable.

Deaths have no increased due to any warming. This has to be a patent lie as all agree that the Earth has not warmed in over 16 years!!!!!!

The 97% consensus is from a truly bad paper which culled thousands of questionnaires down to 79 scientists using biased and leading questions and then, when 77 of 79, out of over 3000 responses, believed in warming, they claimed 97% consensus. This makes rabbit droppings look appealing!

Charles HigleyOct 29 2012 08:22 PM

And, finally, the reported high temperatures for 2012 ONLY occurred because the raw values were artificially adjusted upwards, by the government data keepers, by amounts much greater than the claimed warming of the last 100 years! This is sheer dishonesty. Any adjustments should be downwards to adjust for the urban heat island effect.

BUT, when your goal is to make the current year the warmest EVAH, you have to discard ethics and morals and adjust the data upwards.

YOU CANNOT TRUST A MAN WHOSE LIVELIHOOD AND THE WELFARE OF HIS FAMILY DEPEND ON HIS AGREEING WITH HIS EMPLOYER!

There is not one piece of defensible scientific evidence that CO2 has any detectable effect on climate, let alone the small (3%) contribution from human activities. This is exactly why Al Gore and his cronies avoid ever debating the science and instead claim the science is settled. Science is never settled, Al.

Mike SOct 30 2012 08:38 PM

This article is terrible. You're basically politicizing a storm that has wreaked destruction on the most populated part of our country.

The fact is, globally hurricanes have declined lately, not increased. So not only have you written an insensitive article, but implying that Sandy was caused by global warming is actually contradicted by science.

Anyone who doesn't want to be lied to can google "global hurricane intensity trends".

john warnerOct 31 2012 08:13 AM

Please read my comments on Dan's previous Post to learn what I think, (What Happens in the Arctic Doesn't stay in the Arctic). From John Warner - Sept. 25,1202 I want to add that I subsequently discovered that there is a way to do a t test of the conditional means at the ends of the trend line in a linear regression. The earth's air temperature between 1979 and 2011 is indeed very statistically significant. In the second part of this comment I will prove that carbon dioxide is not the cause of this temperature increase.

When I look at my plot of the earth's average annual global air temperatures anomalies between 1979 and 2011, AMSU channel 5 data from satellites, there is a 0.0137266 degree Celsius per year trend. Over the 32 year period the conditional mean air temperatures, around which the natural variability occurs, has increased 0.4392512 degrees Celsius. The standard error of the estimate is 0.1450068 degrees Celsius. The estimated standard error of the conditional means is 0.0493586 degrees Celsius. The critical t value for the statistical test, at the 5% level, that the 1979 and 2011 conditional mean temperatures are significantly different is 2.042. The t value is 4.4495914. I have used the best data and analysis available to prove the magnitude and significance of the earth's air temperature increase so we can concentrate on proving that carbon dioxide is not the cause of this increase.

I statistically proved that the earth’s air temperature determines the growth rate of carbon dioxide in the air by regressing annual changes in carbon dioxide against channel 5 AMSU annual global air temperature anomalies between 1979 and 2011. The equation is dC=1.70+1.94*T. r=0.7643492 r squared = 58.42% This equation estimates that if the temperature anomaly is plus 0.5 degrees Celsius the increase in carbon dioxide for that year will be 2.67 parts per million. Mis-specifying cause and effect is an intellectually dishonest trick to deceive the technically challenged. But if the Global Warming Believers want to insist that the direction of cause and effect is the other way around I can do that also. The equation is T=-0.514+0.302*dC r=0.7643492 r squared = 58.42% Both equations have the same level of attained statistical significance but only the first equation has any correspondence with reality. The mis-specified equation infers that the earth's air temperature anomaly decreases 0.514 degrees Celsius per year unless there is a 1.702 part per million increase in carbon dioxide per year. In fact the coefficient overestimates the effect of carbon dioxide on temperature by 37.67 times. The average annual temperature at which the earth’s air radiates to space actually increased 0.4393 degrees Celsius between 1979 and 2011. Since carbon dioxide increased 54.8ppm the temperature anomaly according to the mis-specified equation should have increased 16.5496 degrees Celsius. 0.302*54.8=16.5496 degrees Celsius 16.5496/0.4393=37.67 This is a textbook perfect example that the public policy inference from a mis-specified equation might be different than you expected. For example between 1979 and 2011 the carbon dioxide concentration increased 1.702 parts per million per year. If you plug 1.702ppm of carbon dioxide per year into the mis-specified equation the answer is 0.0 degrees Celsius increase in the earth’s annual air temperature anomaly. The Public Policy Inference is that you can increase carbon dioxide 1.702 ppm per year forever and never increase the earth's average annual global air temperature. The point is that if you try to use phony science to deceive, somebody like me can use your mis-specification of reality to draw a public policy inference that is not what you expected. All you have to know is that since 1979 the earth's average annual global air temperature has increased 0.4393 degrees Celsius and this was not caused by carbon dioxide.

john warnerOct 31 2012 12:10 PM

I want to thank Dan for referring me on his previous Post's comments to the keystone evidence I needed to scientifically prove that future increases in carbon dioxide forcing cannot physically be amplified by a water vapor feedback. Here is my response to this issue on another Blog.

I appreciate your bringing attention to the "hole in the infrared spectrum." The earth's air is transparent to some wavelengths of infrared radiation. Water vapor, carbon dioxide and the other well mixed greenhouse gases absorb 41.13, 7.72 and 2.45 watts per square meter respectively of this terrestrial energy that otherwise would be transmitted directly to space. This still leaves 20.52 watts per square meter of the Solar Energy Budget that is not absorbed by the air. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change scientists determined that 25.153487 watts per square meter of the hole was absorbable by carbon dioxide in 1998. According to the formula d(P/A)=5.35ln(CO2/CO2_1998) we know that by 1998, 7.7184185 watts per square meter had already been absorbed by carbon dioxide, (See Table 6.2 Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis). (5.35/ln2)= 7.7184185wpsm I encourage Bloggers to verify my calculations with their scientific calculators. The remaining 17.435069wpsm is still not absorbed by carbon dioxide in the air. (25.153487-7.7184185)=17.435069wpsm The unaccounted for 3.0849315wpsm, (20.52-17.435069=3.084931wpsm), is left to be absorbed by the other well mixed greenhouse gases or is not absorbable at all or there are times and places where there is no water vapor in the air. A Blogger went to SWiTCHBOARD.nrdc.org to find a quote from Dan Lashof to rebut one of my comments that I quoted from Dan's Blog. The Clausius-Clapeyron equation is just scientific jargon that water vapor pressure is a positive logarithmic function of water temperature. This feedback loop has in fact already exhausted the energy available to be absorbed by water vapor from the Solar Energy Budget. The water vapor feedbacks, (100% to 748%), that the IPCC policy makers relied upon for their exaggerated future temperature predictions are already exhausted. Therefore, the IPCC scientists had a good reason to insisted on the disclaimer, I quoted on Dan's previous Post's comments, in the first footnote of the Statement for Policy Makers, Third Assessment Report, The Scientific Basis 2001. The Blogger correctly pointed out that I did not include any water vapor feedback, (0%), in my air temperature predictions for the future.

john warnerNov 1 2012 02:15 AM

Between 1979 and 2011 carbon dioxide increased 54.8ppm. For a Century that is 171.25ppm. In 1998 the concentration was 365ppm. At the current growth rate by 2098 that would be 536.25ppm. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change formula, d(P/A)=5.35ln(536.25/365)=2.0581617wpsm Differentiating the Stefan-Boltzmann equation at 287.15 degrees Kelvin, (14 degrees Celsius), yields dT=0.186205*d(P/A). dT=0.186205*(2.0581617)=0.3832399 degrees Celsius per Century. The IPCC predicted increases of 1.4 degrees Celsius and 5.8 degrees Celsius. These are deliberate and gross overestimates of 3.65 and 15.13 times. Al Gore over estimated 13.0 times. These and the scientific organizations Chance 11 listed above should be disbanded for their participation in perpetrating the lie that there was a scientific basis for these outrageous predictions. The Skeptics and Deniers knew this from the beginning but the use of Scientific Authority by these Organizations to marginalize them and suppress their voices goes to the very heart of the vital role they are supposed to perform by informing the electorate with the information they need to successfully participate in America's Experiment of Self Government by the People. Cheap Abundant Energy Is Indispensable for Living the American Dream. The sole purpose of CAGW was to deceive the American People into demanding Legislation detrimental to their own well-being. Human beings are fragile and living is dangerous and hard. Nature can take care of herself. Natural Disasters are a fact of life. A Nation's ability to deal with these National Disasters is dependent on the Level of Economic Development. The most Indispensable Resource is Cheap Abundant Energy. In 1973 the Cost of Producing a Barrel of Oil was $2.00. In the Middle East the cost was $0.20. In 2012 dollars the Cost is $10.00. My whole adult life Governments have been trying to make Oil, (and all of the other Abundant and Affordable Energy Resources), Scarce and Expensive. I can't imagine any sane American being against $1.50 a gallon price for gasoline or fuel oil. Yet Dan's message is that humans caused Sandy and we deserved it and he hopes the death and property damage and business loss puts and exclamation point on his message. But he fails to mention that the main inconvenience is the power outages and he should be saying if you support Radical Environmental Public Policies this is what your future is going to look like. In addition he fails to mention that how well we dealt with the emergency and how well we will recover is because we are Economically Developed and the role that our Enormous use of Energy will play.

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