Skip to comments.Global Warming Did Not Cause Sandy
Posted on 11/05/2012 6:14:10 PM PST by neverdem
In the wake of the disaster caused by Tropical Storm Sandy, various allies of the Obama campaign have rushed to claim that the event was caused by anthropogenic global warming, thereby justifying the president’s program of crushing the economy with regressive carbon taxes, a supposedly necessary measure to prevent future bad weather. In fact, there is no scientific basis, either empirical or theoretical, to justify such claims.
Weather systems are natural heat engines, and like all other heat engines, both natural and artificial, they are driven not by temperature per se, but by differences in temperature between one location and another. A professor at my old university once illustrated this principle in striking fashion by showing that he could make a car run on liquid nitrogen, using the temperature difference between the ultra-cold fluid and the merely cool ambient Seattle air to derive strong motive power. Similarly in nature, temperature differences, such as that between the warming land and the cold sea at sunrise, create wind, and under the right conditions, can form powerful windstorm systems. Where temperatures are uniform, there is no motive power, regardless of how hot conditions may be.
The Earth is significantly warmed by a greenhouse effect caused largely by water vapor in its atmosphere. But because warm air can hold much more water vapor than cold air, water-vapor greenhousing works more effectively where it is warm than where it is cold, and thus serves to increase the temperature differences between warm regions and cold regions, as well as between day and night. In contrast, carbon dioxide spreads evenly in the atmosphere regardless of local temperature, and thus delivers its insulative warming effect to those water-vapor-poor regions which benefit from it the most. And while it also adds insulation to hot places as well, the marginal effect of the addition is much greater for the have-nots than the haves. (To understand this, just consider the benefit of putting one flannel shirt on a naked chest on a cold day to putting a second shirt over that. The difference between having one shirt and none is much greater than that between having one shirt or two.)
For this reason, it is widely understood that carbon dioxide–driven global warming would have the effect of reducing temperature difference among different parts of the Earth, and therefore reducing the motive force for creating major wind systems. This fact is even acknowledged by the generally global-warming-alarmist U.N. Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC) which states as much in its recent report (page 11, emphasis in original):
It is likely that the global frequency of tropical cyclones will either decrease or remain essentially unchanged. [3.4.4]
There is medium confidence that there will be a reduction in the number of extratropical cyclones averaged over each hemisphere.
The projection of atmospheric carbon dioxide reducing the number of cyclones is also supported by historical data. The table below compares the number of hurricanes making landfall in the United States between the global-cooling period from 1950 to 1980 and that warming period from 1980 to 2010:
It can be seen that the recent period’s CO2-enriched atmosphere witnessed a 56 percent drop in the number of hurricanes hitting the U.S. The force of the hurricanes has decreased as well, with by far the worst of the period being Hurricane Hazel in 1954, which featured 150 mph winds and sea surges of up to 18 ft along major sections of the Carolina coast. Further information concerning historic hurricanes can be found in an excellent article by Anthony Watts.
Some of those decrying global warming as the culprit have sidestepped these realities and instead pointed to warming-induced sea-level increases as the culprit to blame for Sandy’s destructiveness. However, since 1980, the sea level has only risen 3 inches, while the previous sea level rise of 3 inches, from 1940 to 1980, occurred during a period of global cooling, and, in any case, both put together are negligible. In fact, the actual reason for Sandy’s flooding was the coincidence of the storm’s arrival with the monthly peak full-moon high tide, which raised the sea level several feet above its normal daily average.
While continued rising global carbon-dioxide levels are likely to make storms like Sandy less frequent, there will continue to be some regardless. So what is our best defense? The answer is prosperity.
No one can prevent hurricanes, but prosperous communities are much better able to withstand them than poor ones. To see this, just compare the several-score deaths from Sandy to the thousands from Katrina, or the tens of thousands that perish when such storms hit Haiti or other impoverished countries. Prosperous communities are much better able to survive hurricanes or other natural disasters because they have greater resources, both public and private, to fall back upon. Middle-class homes are stouter, and more likely to be stocked with food, candles, first-aid kits, generators, and other useful items, than poor ones are. Prosperous people are much more likely to own cars or boats and thus have the capacity to evacuate themselves, and they have cash to buy food or check into a hotel if they lose their homes. They are also, on average, healthier than poor people, and thus much more resilient against cold and disease. They’re more likely to have useful survival skills, such as the ability to swim. Wealthy communities can afford better staffed and better equipped emergency services, and their infrastructure will generally be in better shape. Finally, and critically, prosperous communities have a sounder social fabric than poor ones, so that people can generally rely on their neighbors for help in an emergency, instead of fearing them as threats.
Far from implying a need for economy-destroying policies like carbon taxes, the lessons to be drawn from Sandy and Katrina are exactly the opposite. Indeed, such depressive policies have the capacity to create disasters even in the absence of any hurricane. For example, while Sandy may have rendered thousands homeless, since Barack Obama took office, 3.5 million American families have lost their homes to foreclosures (four times the rate under Bush), and countless millions more tenants have been evicted from apartments because they could not make their monthly payments.
New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg has endorsed Barack Obama, praising his desire to impose carbon taxes for the purpose of weather control. A billionaire himself, Bloomberg has no reason to be concerned about the burden that the tripling of electricity prices Obama’s anti-coal crusade will place upon his city’s poorer residents. No doubt he is also hedged against the fall in the U.S. stock market that will ensue as carbon taxes and other forms of economic strangulation make American industry ever less competitive. Perhaps he simply feels that such minor considerations must be set aside in the interests of public safety.
But if Bloomberg were truly worried about the safety of his city, he might want to reconsider his endorsement first and foremost with a more complete view of potential threats. New York is, after all, the No. 1 target in the West for Islamist terrorists, who killed 70 times as many New Yorkers on September 11, 2001, as were just lost to Sandy. And while neither candidate can shield the Big Apple against hurricanes, one of them might be able to prevent it from being hit by terrorists equipped with an Iranian atomic bomb. But that will require something quite different from carbon taxes.
— Robert Zubrin is president of Pioneer Astronautics, a senior fellow with the Center for Security Policy, and the author of Energy Victory. His latest book, Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-Scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism has just been published by Encounter Books.
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The article has some exaggeration: “just compare the several-score deaths from Sandy to the thousands from Katrina, or the tens of thousands that perish when such storms hit Haiti or other impoverished countries”
It’s true that Haiti is great example of impoverished persons not being able to save themselves. But the victims of Katrina were killed by a faulty levee.
The tides in a full moon (solar tide added to the lunar tide) is about a foot above a lunar tide in NYC, not “several feet”.
However the rest of the article is pretty good, particularly the comment about an inch per decade of sea level rise. The author should have continued the thought about carbon taxes being wrong: for less than the cost of Sandy, NYC could have built themselves a surge barrier across the Verrazano narrows.
The houses in New Jersey were build on SAND!
I think someone famous mentioned that once.
How did the BARRIER ISLANDS get build in the first place?
Cavemen with buckets and little plastic shovels?
HURRICANES churned them all up and they’ll KEEP churning that sand for a REALLY long time.
Any humans who foolishly RE-build there will wail and lament also.
The MSM keeps saying that it was a “super storm”. That is a bunch of nonsense. There have been many bigger and stronger than this storm. What made this one so destructive was that it hit directly on the densely populated shoreline locations that were vulnerable because of their location and the way building was permitted. The storms don’t usually hit that area, but when they do (and they have in the past) they cause destruction beyond their size and strength. Most of those areas shouldn’t have been built upon without the expectation that every few years they would get wiped out. Another great example is Galveston, TX. It got wiped out recently, has been wiped off the map previously, and will be wiped off again in the future. It has nothing to do with Global Warming ... it’s located in a vulnerable area and no amount of hoping will keep it from getting wiped out again.
No, the Gulf Stream guided Sandy. Time to alter the Gulf Stream and cool North America
for less than the cost of Sandy, NYC could have built themselves a surge barrier across the Verrazano narrows.
For less than what US taxpayers will spend on Sandy damages, the US taxpayers could have built a surge barrier across the Verazano narrows. Fixed it for you
And that would help the Atlantic coastline of Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Queens exactly how? Those being the sites most devastated by the storm surge.
For those unfamiliar with NYC, the Verrazzo Narrows Bridge connects Staten Island and Brooklyn at Interstate 278 on the above map.
Real scientists not just out of podunk college may have a different take on things.
It's a Lyndon H. LaRouche outfit. Now physics is physics. Rising sea levels will slow the earth's rotation. Here's a better source:
The uncompromising verdict of Dr Mörner is that all this talk about the sea rising is nothing but a colossal scare story, writes Christopher Booker.
It would certainly not protect Staten Island, etc but those are cheap to rebuild in comparison with Manhattan, A barrier to protect Manhattan would probably make the surge worse elsewhere.
As neverdem points out that paper is junk. Morner admits there was an inch per decade sea level rise like I said, then goes into various tangents about Scandanavia (no sea rise because the land is rising) and satellites (a “corrected” mess of data). However neither of those facts negates the inch per decade rise on a worldwide average using tidal gages. The NYC gage in particular (relevant to this discussion) shows about an inch per decade rise.
Same thing applies to Booker’s article about Morner. Sea level is rising about an inch per decade in NYC where it recently made a couple inch difference in the surge. The rise is a continuation of the almost nonstop rise from the 1800’s to the present (post Little Ice Age). The fluctuations are mostly due to variations in the rate of ocean warming, not melting ice.
NYC is not a bad proxy for worldwide rise since it the land is not sinking or rising too much.
But ONLY if the rise is magic water from outer space; increasing the TOTAL amount on Earth.
Since 3/4 of the planet's surface is WATER, THESE little babies are piling up on the ocean floor!
Why does NO one suggest a way to STOP THEM!!
Do the simple experiment (it would make a REALLY cool school science fair project!) given in the article for a certain amount of time...
Calculate the surface area of your roof that you collected the meteors...
Weigh the amount collected...
Do the math...
Now YOU are an astrospace engineer!!!
Rising sea levels will slow the earth’s rotation.
Some might proclaim TMI about this link: http://tycho.usno.navy.mil/leapsec.html
Set of a few a-bombs where they’ll not do TOO much damage; the dust will produce ‘Nuclear Winter’, the ice will start coming back, and the sea levels will drop.
Not a bad idea. I have couple places in mind where compacting the earth will help bury a few experiments that need to stay buried.