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2012 SkS News Bulletin #3: Hurricane Sandy & Climate Change

Posted on 10 November 2012 by John Hartz

This is the third installment of a a round-up of selected news articles and blog posts about Hurricane Sandy, its impacts on the Caribbean and North America, and its relationship to climate change. This bulletin supplements the regular SkS Weekly News Round-Up which is posted on Saturday of each week. A "take-away" summary or key pragraph from each article is provided.


The Brooklyn moms are not alone. As Sandy's floodwaters recede from homes, parks and schools across the Eastern seaboard, parents face new health concerns -- including peeling lead paint, moisture-induced mold and mysterious mixes of chemical products. The risks for children could linger for months, even years, according to experts.

Hurricane Sandy Pollution Among Moms' Concerns In Storm's Wake by Lynne Peeples, The Huffington Post, Nov 8, 2012

Lessons Learned

We called it Sandy, and it came to tell us we should have listened harder when the first, second, and third disasters showed up. This storm’s name shouldn’t be Sandy -- though that means we’ve run through the alphabet all the way up to S this hurricane season, way past brutal Isaac in August -- it should be Climate Change.  If each catastrophe came with a message, then this one’s was that global warming’s here, that the old rules don’t apply, and that not doing anything about it for the past 30 years is going to prove far, far more expensive than doing something would have been.

The Fourth Horseman of the Apocalypse: Hurricane Sandy Rides In by Rebecca Solnit,,  Nov 6, 2012

More on the Science

As Hurricane Sandy battered the East Coast last week, meteorologists and climate scientists were repeatedly asked to explain what role climate change played in amplifying the storm.

Did climate change contribute to Sandy? Yes by Bob Corell, Jeff Masters, and Kevin Trenbereth, Politico, Nov 5, 2012

The visualizations show that both the extent and location of the strongest winds differed greatly between these two damaging storms. In the case of Katrina, tropical storm force winds stretched "about 300 miles from edge to edge," and the strongest winds were located within a circle of towering thunderstorms surrounding the storm center, known as the eyewall. But with Sandy, tropical storm force winds extended a whopping 900 miles away from the storm, and the most intense winds were located well away from the storm's center.

Stunning NASA Visualizations: Sandy vs. Katrina by Andrew Freedman, Climate Central, Nov 6, 2012

Following this debate, I’ve been struck by the strong impression that people are making things too complicated. Here’s the simple truth: Leaving aside questions of systemic causation—and sidestepping probabilities, loaded dice, atmospheres on steroids, and so on—we can nevertheless say that global warming made Sandy directly and unmistakably worse, because of its contribution to sea level rise.

Climate Change Made Sandy Worse. Period. by Chris Mooney, Climate Desk, Nov 8, 2012

Perils of Global Catastrophe

It takes a lot to bump the United States election out of the national spotlight one week before election day. Hurricane Sandy was that big, a direct blow to the most heavily populated region of the country. But all the attention going to the northeastern U.S. has a sad consequence: we’re overlooking the devastation Sandy caused in Haiti. This situation offers an ominous warning of what could happen if catastrophe were to affect the entire planet.

Hurricane Sandy Hints at the Perils of Global Catastrophe by Seth Baum, Blogs, Scientific American, Nov 6, 2012 

Protecting Coastal Cities

Following up on my post examining whether we’re stuck with “blah, blah, blah, bang” disaster planning, here’s a discussion of ways to plan and build with the worst in mind.

Lessons from Sandy: Building with Resilience in Mind by Andrew Revkin, Dot Earth, Nov 2, 2012

It's high time the insurance industry makes a bold move — to bring together business leaders, the smartest weather scientists and local, state and federal regulators to start working toward a comprehensive infrastructure assessment and a unified hurricane mitigation plan for the Northeast.

EDITORIAL: Recent storms highlight need for Northeast hurricane mitigation plan, Business Insurance, Nov 4, 2012 

“In the aftermath of the storm, everybody wants to do what they wish they had done before the storm,” said Jim Titus, an expert on rising sea levels. “A lot of this stuff, they’re starting the process of figuring out.”

Coastal cities seek protections against superstorms by Darryl Fears and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, Nov 4, 2012

Now, in the aftermath of the devastating storm, one question is front and center: Should New York armor itself with steel and concrete at a cost of billions of dollars?

Weighing Sea Barriers as Protection for New York by Mireya Navarro, New York Times, Nov 7, 2012

Scientific American spoke with Rosenzweig, head of the climate impacts group at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, while she prepared her Tarrytown home—threatened by trees listing in the wake of Sandy—for yet another northeaster storm.

How to Improve Coastal Cities Climate Resilience: A Q&A with Cynthia Rosenzweig by David Biello, Scientific American, Nov 9, 2012

Public Opinion

Foley agreed. "We're having the same conversation we've been having since the 1988 drought, the 1993 floods, Hurricane Katrina, the heat waves in Europe. Public attention seems to max out at a couple weeks."

Will Sandy Change the Climate Change Conversation? by Crystal Gammon and LiveScience, Scientific American, Nov 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy images and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg's endorsement of Obama based on his climate change policies could bring attention to the issue of global warming, political observers say.

Sandy a galvanizing moment for climate change? by Bettina Boxall and Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times, Nov 4, 2012

The contrast to Louisiana's political response after Katrina, Rita and Isaac could not have been more stark, or troubling. Louisiana's current governor and congressional delegation (save for the two Democrats) consider global warming the science that shall not be named, except to ridicule. These wise men tell us they know more about the planet's climate than the world's foremost climate scientists -- and that the short-term cost to industry of addressing a primary road block to securing our future here is just too high.

After Sandy, there's no denying global warming by Bob Marshall, Contributing Op-ed columnist,, Nov 8, 2012  

Hurricane Sandy has proven to be a wake-up call about the potential dangers posed by climate change, and it’s even possible — though by no means certain — that we won’t just hit the snooze button and go back to sleep as the images of destruction in New York and New Jersey begin to fade.

Sandy & Other Disasters Could Hurt Climate Change Cause by Michael D. Lemonick, Climate Central, Nov 9, 2012

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