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Climate Hustle

2017 SkS Weekly Climate Change & Global Warming News Roundup #39

Posted on 30 September 2017 by John Hartz

A chronological listing of news articles posted on the Skeptical Science Facebook page during the past week. 

Editor's Pick

People Are Dying’: Puerto Rico Faces Daunting Humanitarian Crisis

As the full scope of Hurricane Maria's devastation emerges, leaders are calling for urgent help. Many of the risks were spelled out in a 2013 climate assessment.

Puerto Rico Aftermath of Hurricane Maria 

Hurricane Maria swept mud and debris down streets and into homes across the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, home to 3.4 million people, about 44 percent of whom live below the poverty line. Credit: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

A public health crisis is unfolding in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria, as millions of people face a frightening array of urgent dangers, some of which may drag on for weeks or months.

Nearly one week after the storm hit, federal emergency response personnel struggled to make contact with remote communities and restore critical medical infrastructure.

As of Monday, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), already stretched thin by continuing recovery efforts from Hurricanes Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida, had yet to reach six communities in Puerto Rico and was just sending its first shipment of water to the remote islands of Vieques and Culebra.

"We are in response mode, and our main priority is saving lives, getting generators to the hospitals, and making sure that there is enough fuel for those generators to run," FEMA spokesperson Jose Davila said.

"It is very bad down there right now," said Sven Rodenbeck, chief science officer for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 2017 hurricane response. "For the vast majority of the island, there is no power. They have had flooding, and the health care system—many of the clinics and hospitals are closed. A lot of the drinking water systems are not operational, along with the waste water systems."

Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico, gave a blunt assessment of the situation.

"People are dying," Cruz told CBS news on Tuesday. "This is the reality that we live in, the crude aftermath of a storm, a hurricane that has left us practically paralyzed."

‘People Are Dying’: Puerto Rico Faces Daunting Humanitarian Crisis by Phil Mckenna, Inside Climate News, Sep 27, 2017


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Comments

Comments 1 to 12:

  1. This disaster is very grim for Peurto Rico, and possibly a sign of worse things to come as climate changes. If IPCC climate predictions prove correct and hurricanes become more intense and eventually more numerous, the impacts will be very significant. Some of the IPCC projections for increased hurricane intensity are quite large, depending somewhat on geographical location. Increasing quantities of gdp will go into hurricane repairs as opposed to increasing basic quality of life.

    Some vulnerable areas will possibly never fully recover before the next big one hits. It took 10 years to clean up and repair things after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, and the cost was 100 billion dollars. No wonder small island nations already stay poor.

    This sort of scenario can only become more common as climate continues to change because the type of change has mostly negative consequences for weather systems. Theres very little upside when more heat energy and moisture goes into weather systems.

    Economies are adapted over decades and centuries to stability of environment or at least known regular cyclical problems of roughly equal intensity. This stability has been useful in improvement in human economies, and we have seen tremendous progess in many areas, despite the inevitable problems as well. Our modern economy since the end of the last ice age has never actually faced a period where weather gets progressively worse almost everywhere over decadal time frames, so its uncharted territory to fully quantify.

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  2. In the midst of all this tragedy, could you not wait?

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Sloganeering snipped.

  3. Norris are you talking to me or the writer of the article? 

    The disaster is already about a week ago, so plenty of respect has been shown.

    However I think we should talk about causes, problems and solutions pretty immediately, while things are fresh in peoples minds, and I think this what the inhabitants would appreciate most. Theres nothing to be gained from what, having a months silence, crying in our beer? What is it you want, apart from trying to make people feel guilty? 

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  4. NorrisM @2 :

    < "In the midst of all this tragedy, could you not wait?" > 

    NorrisM, when you are beset by alligators, is also the time you should be draining the swamp.

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  5. Houses can be dried out and mould prevented by using solar air heaters - see http://www.builditsolar.com/Experimental/PopCanVsScreen/PopCanVsScreen.htm on how to build your own solar air heater. I wonder if water aerators could help improve hygine in some inundated areas.

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  6. www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-09-30/no-trump-didn-t-botch-the-puerto-rico-crisis

    Article on the relief for puerto rico - 

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  7. nigelj

    The writer of the article.  By the way, lawyers in the same position are called "ambulance chasers" (When I practiced law I was a business lawyer)

    I think a couple of months from now would have been more appropriate to engage in this discussion.

    On another somewhat related point, I have been reading the comments on Judith Curry.  Is this all because of some interview I understand she had with Fox News?  I am a little disappointed with her even appearing on that "news" source.

    But I can tell you at one point when I was watching CNN and CBS etc covering Hurricane Irma when it was in the Caribbean, all of the predictions for the path of Irma at that time were up the east coast of Florida.  I just happened to go on the Curry blog for other reasons (although I sometimes look at GWPF, I only regularly follow two blogs, one on each side).

    At that time, when all the other predictions had the storm heading to Miami, Judith Curry's prediction that day showed the hurricane heading for the west coast of Florida. 

    It took another day before CNN was modifying its predictions.  Perhaps there were others and this was just an example of news sources looking for the dramatic but it was both CNN and CBS.

    So if one oil and gas company retains Judith Curry to predict hurricane paths I have no problem with that.  People do have a right to earn a living while promoting their causes.  I think her oil and gas interests are immaterial to the issues and have been fully disclosed.  You cannot bar every person from this debate if they have had some present or past relationship with the fossil fuel industry.  On that basis, everyone should disclose any advice (and compensation they receive) to any organization promoting the dangers of climate change.

    PS  One time I took a look at a YouTube video of the President of the Heartland Institute.  That was all I needed to stay clear of that site.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Snipped statement in violation of the following section of the SkS Comments Policy.

    • No accusations of deception.  Any accusations of deception, fraud, dishonesty or corruption will be deleted. This applies to both sides. You may critique a person's methods but not their motives.
  8. NorrisM @7

    We should discuss problems when they are current and fresh in peoples minds. We will be no use to anyone otherwise. Alligators and swamps. 

    I can't recall what really started the conversation on Curry. The concern is with the way she makes vague, often petty, and frankly silly statements that feed the denial machine, and are jumped on by politicians eager to downplay climate change, as people discussed in depth, with quotes from her writings. You should read the quotes and study them. 

    She may have got some hurricane prediction right by chance or skill. I'm not doubting her basic qualifications, just interested in why she has become a climate denialist, and why she makes the most incredibly obtuse, open ended and frustratingly vague and factually incorrect or incomplete statements. If that impresses you and rocks your world, I suppose you should read her "blog".

    If she is paid by oil and gas companies it doesnt matter for what reason, there will be a perception of bias at the very least. If she wants to be taken seriously she might consider that.

    Good to see you staying away form the Heartland Institute. Possibly avoid the more extreme environmental websites as well. Go straight down the middle with the IPCC. Their science is more than worrying enough. 

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  9. Swayseeker @5, not a bad idea, except there do not appear to be many houses left standing.

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  10. Moderator 

    I do not think I broke the above rule. Issues of what is right and wrong get lobbed at "deniers on this website daily. See for example criticisms of Curry. I was dealing with a moral issue of taking advantage of a very tragic situation while it is ongoing.

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    Moderator Response:

    [JH] Moderation complaint snipped.

  11. NorrisM @10, nobody was accusing Curry of personal dishonesty or fraud, or ambulance chasing or other forms of immorality. Just of bad science and being vague and confusing.

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  12. Suggested supplemental reading re the situation in Puerto Rico:

    After first tour of Puerto Rico, top general calls damage ‘the worst he’s ever seen’ by Jenny Marder, PBS News Hour, Sep 30, 2017

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