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2012 SkS News Bulletin #1: Hurricane Sandy & Climate Change

Posted on 31 October 2012 by John Hartz

This is a round-up of selected news articles and blog posts about Hurricane Sandy, its impacts on 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.

Sunday, Oct 28

Monday, Oct 29

Tuesday, Oct 30

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Comments 101 to 118 out of 118:

  1. Should have said Yasi and Katrina were smaller (not small) in diameter compared to Irene and especially Sandy. Both Yasi and Katrina were still huge cyclones.
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  2. Dale@82, I offer an apology, such as is necessary, for misidentifying you with WUWT: Your name, and modus operandi, appear there quite a lot, and I *never* visit Jo Nova--too fact-free for my tastes. However, your own admission that Jo Nova is your home site, as opposed to WUWT, stands on its own. I also happen to know a fair bit about the "Aussie psyche," having been married to an Aussie, and having a number of Aussie friends; we are much alike, Americans and Aussies, in calling spades spades. Fair, back to the science. It is evident by your unwillingness to address *directly* Dikran's reasonable questions, viz. IPCC's data and interpretation about the intensity of large storms, that it's an uncomforatable place to be: We've all been there, with cherished and tightly-held *beliefs*. However, as shown by Dikran et al, your stance is not correct. As gws stated, you need not agree with the interpretation of the data, but please let me remind doesn't lie. I will give you credit inasmuch as far as the clearly identified "skeptics" who come to SkS to challenge the science--and challenging science is a good thing, assuming one doesn't use one's own facts and data to do so--that you sometimes almost seem willing to accede that the data is what it is. To that end, I am still waiting to see a clear answer to Dikran's question.
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    Moderator Response:

    [DB] Actually, in a comment at 07:07 AM on 31 August 2012, Dale said:

    "I read both WUWT and SkS"

    With his recent conduct, Dale has decided to recuse himself from further participation in this venue.

  3. At least 56 people in the United States and one in Canada died during the storm, raising Sandy's overall death toll to 124 after earlier claiming 67 lives in the Caribbean. Source: Superstorm Sandy's human toll mounts; at least 56 killed in U.S. by Chelsea J. Carter, CNN, Nov 1, 2012
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  4. Hurricane Sandy and Change of Climate It seems to me that the whole climate of debate now shifts. For one thing, AFAICT, Obama has now won the US election. Governor Romney is now unelectable. For this, I think we have to thank WUWT, Jo Nova, the Heartland Foundation and the huge political campaign donations of Big Oil, and yes, the little guys like Dale, too. They have made it absolutely impossible for the GOP to field a candidate with any position on climate change that is not firmly based on utter gibberish. That really didn't matter, so long as AGW was never debated. Now, with a week to go until polling, the elephant in the room farted. Our discussions here won't affect it either. It's about pictures, not words. There are pictures of luxury cars bobbing about in flood water in Manhattan. It takes a thousand words to even discuss whether climate change has caused this. Then here's a picture of the Jersey Shore pummelled to hell. Explaining that this isn't necessarily climate change takes another thousand words. Do you give up yet? No, well sorry, but your audience is now watching the baseball, and Obama has won the election. Those of you who visit WUWT may have noticed Tony's sudden aversion to tabloid climatology? (What he going to do? Launch a campaign to have the web's biggest climate tabloid - WUWT - closed down?) This should now provoke some interesting discussions. Governor Romney was backed not only by Big Oil, but also, and much more significantly, by Big Money. In the aftermath of the coming election, Big Money is going to have some Big Questions for Big Oil to answer. I would like to suggest that soon would be a good time for SkS to examine again the costs/benefits of Climate Action/Inaction, in the light of the damage caused by Sandy, and the clearly increasing danger of such damage being repeated in future. Heck! This was a local, temporary storm surge of 13 feet. Hansens's latest discusses the possibility of a global, permanent sea level rise of more like 20 feet (5 metres) by 2100. Still the damage caused by Sandy is going to cost a lot of money. I believe I read that NYC has an official report from last year, which estimated that if two significant tunnels flooded, that would cost US$55billion. They flooded. An update on the latest Monckton "adaptation will cost too much" stand up routine might be in order, as long as I can volunteer somebody else to write it...
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  5. Significant signs of some exasperation from "Big Money":
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  6. "It seems to me that the whole climate of debate now shifts. For one thing, AFAICT, Obama has now won the US election. Governor Romney is now unelectable." From your lips to YHWH's ears.....:( Let's revisit this thread in, oh say...120 hours? We'll see. I sincerely hope you are correct, for then, as a progressive, I can begin to *really* kicks this Administrations a-double Q about doing something towards solving this critcally important issue. As someone else said, upthread, thank God this wasn't a *serious* storm. It was "just a sloshing."
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  7. "Now, with a week to go until polling, the elephant in the room farted. Our discussions here won't affect it either. It's about pictures, not words." One of the first, and funniest (to those of us who think farts are funny!) vids I ever saw on UT...fits the occasion and gosh knows we all need some humor! Let's just label the pig "Sandy", and the dinosaurs as "WUWT" and "Jo Nova." The climate just farted. Tee hee...;)
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  8. I suspect Obama will get elected, at least partly because of Sandy, and you are going to get the "Climate Programme" you wish for. (Sloganeering snipped)(Some will do very well indeed$7-million-full-year-profit-well-positioned-for-fut-15439948/.) I spend a lot of time in China. I think they are going the right way about this, opening a new efficient coal fired power station every ten days, to replace the millions of old smoky boilers inefficiently burning dirty wet coal, investing in vast hydro-power projects, investing in nuclear power, centrally investing in vast infrastructure projects including highway networks and high speed rail, and new airports everywhere I go. They are also rapidly modernizing, mechanizing and expanding farming operations. All in the interests of producing what is needed in the most efficient manner. All of which will use energy more efficiently and decrease all sorts of pollution (Oh, to see a blue sky over Beijing!) On storms, the Beijingers find it amusing that their press covers Sandy but ignored a recent storm which hit Beijing in July and killed 70 people.
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    Moderator Response: [Sph] Please review the comments policy.
  9. markx, Except that those new coal fired plants are going to kill us. We're all going to look back on that "short cut" and say "what were we thinking?"
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  10. Markx forgot to mention the 20+GWE of domestic solar hot water installed in China in the past half dozen years, with ~40GWE more slated for installation coming right up. 20GWE of solar DHW is quicker and easier to put in place than the 20 or so nuclear plants otherwise needed to warm up water. Similarly, PV and wind. Similarly we see that coal plants don't yield energy "in the most efficient manner." What's strangely inefficient is ignoring an ample supply of fusion nuclear power delivered daily to our doorsteps. One thing we can probably agree on: while we yammer endlessly about what we might do, the Chinese actually deliver results. Too bad it takes an iron handed authority to substitute for common sense; it doesn't have to be that way, if we ignore people like the Koch bros. who are throwing sand in our mental gears.
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  11. Sphaerica at 02:50 AM on 4 November, 2012 "...Except that those new coal fired plants are going to kill us..." Not really, they are a step in a better direction (at this stage of the game). The energy demand is there, it will be met one way or the other. The current system is not good. It is amazing to see factories (even pharmaceutical companies) burning coal for their energy. Not to mention hotels, and even pig farms. But you should see the often wet and dirty coal piles, and the age of some the old furnaces used (although there are good modern ones too). Good point re the Solar hot water - and we should mention all the low cost electric vehicles - all possible by being extremely affordable to the poor. Legislation wise (if that is seen as the need), Sandy was a convenient arrival, at exactly the right time.
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  12. If China pulls off the juggling act they need to perform in order to maintain social and political stability while building a durable system it'll be quite remarkable. As Markx implies, coal is a necessary if unfortunate part of that equation but still amenable to optimization. It's the permitted longevity of the band-aid fix in the form of more efficient coal plants that's dubious, unpredictable. Brutal as it is,the Chinese government might order plants only a couple of decades old decommissioned, if that government survives, and be obeyed. Scary and fascinating at the same time.
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  13. markx, you neglect to mention the mining of the coal. This is obliterating the landscape, poisoning the air and water, and destroying the health of the surrounding population along the way. A lot of the coal has to be transported halfway around the world by truck, rail and ships, which uses up oil reserves and damages the environment in the process. We have to think local for our energy supply – like on your roof for one.
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  14. If someone is going to play the "China" card then its worth noting that China is also retiring older inefficient coal plants; that the energy demand in the China is largely to supply goods to the west - in effect the West is exporting emissions to China; and that per capita energy use in China is far below that of USA. The emissions causing trouble in our atmosphere at the moment are from western emissions over the last 100 years, not Chinese. An equitable solution would be decarbonise the west so other countries can grow without damaging the climate.
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  15. Brian Purdue at 10:45 AM on 4 November, 2012 "...We have to think local for our energy supply – like on your roof for one...." I agree entirely with you on that Brian. But I think you will find big business still has it's way in the end - governments much prefer centralized business control (purposes of tax, monitoring, QC, control, regulation). In some areas of Australia there are already limitation as to the number of solar cells you may put on a household roof (and anyway solar cells are not so far living up to the sales talk). Even solar hot water is over regulated, mainly because somewhere in the system you must have connections to a public supply system... and there is no hope of avoiding that as in some areas you cannot even catch the rain which falls on your roof - "they" want to catch it a sell it to you! ... with similar legislation for use of stream or underground water. (becoming fully a commercialized commodity.)
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  16. scaddenp at 14:35 PM on 4 November, 2012 "...An equitable solution would be decarbonise the west so other countries can grow without damaging the climate...." Not so simple really - I'm forever dealing with incredibly rich individuals and businesses in China - the wealth is astounding. And no doubt there are huge numbers of poor there, but such people also exist in western countries. So perhaps it is inevitable that any 'carbon trading scheme' will require a huge social engineering program, redistributing cash (the poor's energy needs are fixed - reduce energy usage and someone will go hungry or cold).
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  17. markx - now you are talking about politics and that’s our biggest problem because it is corrupted by the existing energy generation “establishment”. I didn’t say this was going to be an easy transition. I bought solar panels two and a half years ago, and since then their power output has nearly doubled, while the price has nearly halved. It took coal generation 150 years to reach current efficiencies, so solar is still in its infancy. There are only a handful of base-load solar power stations so far so they have yet to reach economies of scale. “- like on your roof for one”........ so I wasn’t just talking about solar. There’s plenty more renewable energy sources that haven’t reached anywhere near their potential, and some we haven’t heard of yet. By the way, it will probably be China that develops them.
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  18. markx - this is straying far the topic of this thread. I have instead responded to you here which I think is more appropriate before moderators start removing posts as offtopic.
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