It’s Global Warming, Stupid

We’re going to be seeing a lot of headlines like this one (from BusinessWeek), but is it really so simple?

Yes, yes, it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us—and they’re right—that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.

Clarity, however, is not beyond reach. Hurricane Sandy demands it: At least 40 U.S. deaths. Economic losses expected to climb as high as $50 billion. Eight million homes without power. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. More than 15,000 flights grounded. Factories, stores, and hospitals shut. Lower Manhattan dark, silent, and underwater.

An unscientific survey of the social networking literature on Sandy reveals an illuminating tweet (you read that correctly) from Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. On Oct. 29, Foley thumbed thusly: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.” Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund (and former deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek), offers a baseball analogy: “We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.”

In an Oct. 30 blog post, Mark Fischetti of Scientific American took a spin through Ph.D.-land and found more and more credentialed experts willing to shrug off the climate caveats. The broadening consensus: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.” Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that.

Sandy featured a scary extra twist implicating climate change…

[continues at BusinessWeek]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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20 Comments on "It’s Global Warming, Stupid"

  1. We had a bunch of different storms this year, this is the one that made land fall. The coast is vulneral. If we have storms like this late winter when the seas are supposed to be cool then we have a global warming problem, this time of year the seas have been warming up all summer and are just begining to cool down. Right now its a lack of engineering and improper location of major metropolitan areas that is the real problem. This was a cat 1 hurricane, not even a major one, it was bad but when big storm really hits there wont be buildings left where it hits. If the seas are really warming up due to climate change we will see those major storms but this was normal from meterological stand point. But just because its not global warming yet does not mean we can keep fucking with the enviroment becuase if it really become a green house we are fucked

  2. It’s called ‘global’ warming for a reason. So far, the US hasn’t been affected as much as other regions, particularly Australia and Asia, by extreme weather events. But it’s coming. This is just one of many indicators. Weather on steroids, that’s indeed a good description.

    • sonicbphuct | Nov 1, 2012 at 7:53 pm |

      so, if we only factor cost in, this storm was nothing. I like that reasoning – we won’t factor in the cost of predictive equipment and processes, or the improved building methods, mitigation techniques, etc. And, we’ll make a claim that is patently silly. A bill of $20 Billion before the water is even out. One almost wonders why they don’t just rebuild the Subway system every few years for such a low cost.

      I don’t mean to burst your overly statistical bubble, but it’s really pretty well understood physics, specifically fluid and thermal dynamics. You might as well be arguing with Newton on this one.

  3. BuzzCoastin | Nov 1, 2012 at 8:35 pm |

    there seems to be a consensus in the media spew
    that global warming and its effects will be dire
    but besides a few tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint
    nothing much can or will be done
    because if they’re right
    Modernity itself is the cause
    and no individual action can change that

    • kowalityjesus | Nov 1, 2012 at 10:34 pm |

      Derrick Jensen has made a name with this very theory. …very depressing.

      Honestly, some would undoubtedly call this hubris, but it is evident TO ME that when God unleashed humans on the world (or was it humans breaking their leash?) he realized that sooner or later we would figure out how to dig things up and burn them, and He knew what would happen when we did that and planned for it. Therefore, I think a universal conscientiousness toward the consequences of our actions and a widespread loathing of waste would make our outlook much rosier (in the vein of “the harder I work the luckier I get”). There are plenty of low-hanging ‘carbon-reduction’ fruit that we can pick before we consign ourselves to becoming another Venus.

      I believe only poisoned minds far astray from the pathway to God, with no compassion and a criminal tendency to waste would result in the situation we find ourselves upon the brink of today. Outer pollution reflects inner pollution.

      • That would explain why the popular opposition to doing anything about global warming is found in the Religious Right and just about every atheist I know who isn’t a right-wing Libertarian wants to go to green energy.

      • BuzzCoastin | Nov 2, 2012 at 12:57 am |

        you obviously haven’t been to any of the BRICS
        China and India with about 3 billion people
        think the American Dream is the bees knees and
        can’t wait to live their American Dreams
        a house, 2 cars, lots of junk food & bling bling

        Der Homeland has about 5% of the worlds population and
        uses 20% of the world’s resources to fuel the ‘Merkin Dream
        China & India are 40% of the worlds population
        when they finally reach the Dream
        the game will be over

        if there is a god
        she obviously doesn’t have a high regard for humans

        • kowalityjesus | Nov 2, 2012 at 11:27 am |

          It is moderately hilarious that you call America Der Homeland, as opposed to Der Heimland because the US has a plurality of anglicized Germans for ethnicity. Did you know that the Amish are one of the fastest-growing populations in the world? apt.

          There is actually another book called Plan B 2.0 by Lester Brown. I used it in a paper to counter the class-required book “The World is Flat.” My thesis paraphrased; “its nice that China and India are rising, but they are going to run out of aluminum, phosphorous, oil, rare-earths, sea food, experience sea-level rise, etc. so it will not be as fun as it was for the good ole USA” There is some degree of self-satisfaction in the idea that the only people who will really ever enjoy the American lifestyle are the people who invented it, because shit will start running out in not too long.

          But with respect toward my more-recent opinion that God has ultimately anticipated the situation we have collectively chosen to place ourselves in (due to sin), He has placed many geological countermeasures to compensate for the amount of time it would take for humans to realize what they are doing, but if we continue to choose our hollow pursuits, we will poison the earth. We are reaping the consequences of not picturing ourselves as one people under God, and not respecting the precious resources allocated to attend our well-being. Evangelicals are not keen on that aspect of the matter.

          • alizardx | Nov 3, 2012 at 2:22 am |

            Name a single national evangelical community of significant size that’s denouncing Romney from pulpits over environmental stewardship issues.

          • kowalityjesus | Nov 3, 2012 at 6:17 pm |

            I meant evangelicals are not savvy to the idea that environmental stewardship is a parameter of man’s contract with God. Actually one of the most proactive environmental stewards are the Lutherans, go figure the Germans.

          • alizardx | Nov 3, 2012 at 6:29 pm |

            Lutherans are generally moderates; If one wants to look for Evangelicals, look to Pat Robertson’s friends.

    • Right. Nothing can possibly done to replace fossil fuel energy according to the media consensus. Sounds depressing, I think I’ll go out to my back yard and see if looking at the power-generating windfarm will cheer me up.

      • BuzzCoastin | Nov 2, 2012 at 12:50 am |

        no, there are things that can be done
        but nothing will be done till the last minute
        this is human nature
        and nothing any individual does:
        low carbon lifestyle etc
        is going to change the weather or the future of the climate

        so if you’re an individual
        you can beat the climate change drum all day long
        and if you’re very good
        you might get to play drums on the next Zep reunion tour

        • alizardx | Nov 2, 2012 at 3:58 am |

          I think the odds that things will be done even barely in time are at best, equal to the odds that nothing will be done until after it is too late. Read Jason Diamond’s “Collapse” case studies of places where the elites took their societies down the crapper and followed them down the drain. We can’t ask their descendants for insights into these elites because there aren’t any. The world’s transnational elite is a single point of failure.

          Things can be done; What will be done? Interesting question. How to avoid being a lemming is another.

  4. Dumbsaint | Nov 1, 2012 at 8:42 pm |

    Why do so many articles on this separate, or omit entirely, deaths that didn’t occur in the US?

  5. To a group that claims there are no coincidences, Sandy means “Defender of Man”. Climate changes – there are macro seasons just as there are micro seasons of winter, spring, summer, and/or fall; depending on which side of the world one lives. Visit small dead animals-all one word. The entire earth was formed through cataclysmic incidences. Just because we can measure them, does not mean we impact or control them. A tiny fraction of the entire earth is inhabited – all one needs to do is check out google earth for themselves to see how true this is. Here is a map to indicating highest temp readings: Climate Change is being used as a means to control the population and it’s numbers.

  6. PlantsNeedLovingToo | Nov 2, 2012 at 7:04 am |

    “Climate deniers” …. really? That’s what people get called for believing that you’re full of it? This is an obvious allusion to “Holocaust denier”. If you say “climate denier” in a conversation wherein you wish to change someones opinion, then you sir/miss need to put down the kool-aid.

  7. its geo-engineering, stupid!

  8. Where’s Camron??! Camron?? Yoo hoo! We miss you’re angry and defiant anti global warming opinions. Oh there you are sneaking in a Wall Street Journal (right wing bias) article. I love how that article stays focused on soley American centric storms….though he did curiously talk about how humans effect climate change. Are you sure you wanted to use this to support your position? Keep fighting babe!

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