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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Was Hurricane Sandy Caused By Climate Change?

This NOAA satellite image taken on Monday shows Hurricane Sandy off the Mid Atlantic coastline moving north. (AP/NOAA)

Whenever there’s an extreme weather event, from a hurricane to a record drought, the question always arises: Is it climate change?

MIT climate scientist Kerry Emanuel told Here & Now’s Robin Young that it’s hard to know for sure, but it is clear that as coastal waters warm up,  storms will carry more rain, due to the added water vapor.


  • Kerry Emanuel, climate change scientist and professor of atmospheric science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

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  • Wowitscoldoutside

    Ironic that the same people denying climate change are the ones who want to dismantle FEMA, transfer such duties to the states, which can then shell out to the “private” sector for emergency services.   

    Thinking of voting for Romney anyone?  Please read:http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/30/opinion/a-big-storm-requires-big-government.html?ref=opinion

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

     The sea levels will continue to rise and there is absolutely nothing anyone can do about it.  The only solution is to seek  higher ground.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oregon-Stream/100002120209443 Oregon Stream

      There is nothing that we can do about what has already been set in motion. But we can certainly make outcomes worse (including for the many millions of people relying on coastal agriculture) …

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

         Nope, no matter what we do now won’t have much effect.   We would be much better off if we directed our efforts and energies toward adapting to a higher sea level.  Several Alaska villages have already been moved to higher ground.  It is much easier to move the farm, than to hold back the sea.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oregon-Stream/100002120209443 Oregon Stream

          I’ve yet to see any successfully reviewed and assessed science suggesting that staying on our present path, vs. trying to keep global mean temperature change to 2 degrees C, will have little effect. Mitigation isn’t about holding back the sea, but reducing the risk of accelerated sea level rise via our active ‘inputs’. But I agree that adaptation will be of importance regardless. The question is how much trouble and expense we’ll be committing to if we simply ignore it. Moving some Alaskan villages might be a bit different from mass migration and the seawater contamination of coastal farm lands/water supplies. Along with the other risks associated with massively overloading the holocene carbon cycle.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003000884786 Navin R Johnson

             That 2 degrees Celsius goal is unattainable. 

            Which coastal farmlands are you referring to?  I think the majority of farm land in the world is inland. 

            And there is already a problem with salt-water intrusion in Florida, has been for years. 

            The pictures we see today of a flooded Manhattan will be commonplace in a few decades.  Manhattan is going to need a levee system like they have in The Netherlands (but Hurricane-Safe).

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oregon-Stream/100002120209443 Oregon Stream

            As I recall, some of the world’s most productive lands (in Asia and around the Mediterranean for example) are on coastal plains, and/or depend on coastal aquifers. Given potential stresses on inland farmlands, I’m not sure we can count on those to compensate (especially for countries that struggle to afford food imports).

            Two degrees C may now be unattainable (particularly without any sort of Apollo-type program), but goals could still be aimed as closely as possible. Existing problems are existing problems. We don’t need to make them worse in a growing (and potentially less stable) world, in which agricultural output must continue to increase.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Oregon-Stream/100002120209443 Oregon Stream

    Media outlets need to drop the word “caused” (vs. enhanced), since weather is a confluence of systemic variability (like fluctuations in heat ‘distribution’) AND trends associated with the global “energy budget”. The background conditions (surface temperature, ocean heat content, water vapor availability) on which events occur are changing, and will continue to change for at least decades ‘after’ society gets serious about weaning away from fossil fuels. That’s just from inertial lag (since much of the extra heat must make it’s way through the oceans), and the few amplifying feedbacks that most models adequately represent.

  • Kathleen Walsh RN

    Though we cannot do anything (much) about the damages already done..we can stop the insanity and make sure this horrendous Right Wing gets no more power;  is ‘marginalized’ as Eisenhower warned decades ago.  Check out today’s WorldView program (per Chicago WBEZ station) re: the foreign/faux-corporation money pouring into the right wing machinations.  The danger is now imminent.  We must take this very seriously.

Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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