Conservatives and the Christian Right regularly blame hurricanes on abortion, liberals, government and “teh gay.” But Hurricane Sandy actually is an “unprecedented.” This “Frankenstorm,” with a gale-force wind diameter of 1040 miles, is the largest hurricane in Atlantic history, with the lowest barometric pressure. So we really should ask the question: is Hurricane Sandy actually God’s punishment for not bringing up climate change in the presidential debates?
Here are just a few samples of what a few of the many right-wing nut jobs (RWNJs) (“the base”) have had to say about hurricanes:
Michelle Bachman said that Hurricane Irene was God’s punishment for our having a government that provides services to our people, (seriously, she said it):
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
The Rev. Pat Robertson told us that Hurricane Katrina was God’s retribution for legalized abortion.
The Pope made Gerhard Wagner a bishop after he blamed Hurricane Katrina on teh gay.
Another Unprecedented Storm
So here we have another “freak,” “once in a hundred years,” “unprecedented,” “no one has seen this before” storms that we are experiencing all the time now.
The Washington Post the other day, Hurricane Sandy may be unprecedented in East Coast storm history,
With computer models locked in on the eventuality of a punishing blow for East Coast from Hurricane Sandy (with the latest model runs favoring the northern mid-Atlantic), analyses suggest this storm may be unlike anything the region has ever experienced.
Etc. Please read Climate Progress, CNN Bans Term ‘Frankenstorm’, But It’s A Good Metaphor For Warming-Driven Monster: ‘Largest Hurricane In Atlantic History’.
Why Attribute Hurricane Sandy To Global Warming?
The term “climate change” is used to refer to the fact that the … uh …climate is … uh … changing. This is a result of the warming of the atmosphere that results from putting massive amounts of CO2 into the air, primarily by burning coal and oil as an energy source. The CO2 acts like a layer of glass to trap heat in the atmosphere that would previously have bounced off the earth and into space. This trapping effect acts just like the way the glass in a greenhouse traps heat inside. This is why CO2 is called “greenhouse gas.”
The trapped heat eventually changes the patterns of the weather, and melts ice that then causes the oceans levels to rise. This change in weather patterns is what we are beginning — just beginning — to experience. Flood, massive “freak storms, terrible heat waves that go on and on with higher temperatures, increased severity of hurricanes, droughts, huge regional fires, and all the rest of the “weird weather” people are talking about…
The scientifically predicted changes in the climate include:
Severity: The increased heat from global warming puts more energy into storms, so they are stronger.
Rain and snowfall: Storms, including hurricanes, will be loaded with extra moisture, so higher rainfall will make flooding more frequent and worse.
Rising seas: melting ice slowly increases sea levels, so storm surges, etc., will be worse.
The Campaign Mostly Silent On Climate Change
Climate change was not much of an issue in the Presidential debates, except in the extent to which the candidates promoted more drilling for oil and more mining of coal, hence increasing the problem. In the first debate Mitt Romney actually mocked people who are warning about climate change and sea-level rise, and criticized President Obama for investing $90 billion in wind and solar — and just lied, saying that half of the investments had gone bankrupt.
However, in an interview on MTV President Obama was asked about climate change, and said (TPM),
“We’re not moving as fast as we need to,” Obama said. “This is an issue that future generations, MTV viewers, are going to have to be dealing with even more than the older generation is. So this is a critical issue — and there’s a huge contrast in this campaign between myself and Governor Romney. I’m surprised it didn’t come up in the debates.”
Obama said Romney “says he believes in climate change….but he says he’s not sure that man-made causes are the reason” As for his own views, “I believe scientists who say we’re putting too much carbon emissions into the atmosphere and it’s heating the planet and its going to have a severe effect.”
Possibly related: NY Times, Fossil Fuel Industry Ads Dominate TV Campaign,
The American Petroleum Institute, backed by the nation’s largest oil and gas companies, is the top energy spender this year with its “I’m an energy voter” campaign. Although the ads avoid explicitly endorsing any candidate, they clearly echo policy stands taken by Mr. Romney and the Republicans: opposing regulations that might slow down drilling and denouncing Mr. Obama’s proposal to eliminate oil industry subsidies.
The Terrifying Math Of Global Warming
Here is the climate problem in a nutshell. As Bill McKibben explained in Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math:
1) We have to try to hold warming to 2 degrees Celsius, we’re at .8 of that now with huge storms, drought, floods and all kinds of effects. It gets dramatically worse from here – heading towards crop failure, famine, running out of water, rising seas, mass extinctions …
2) To hold at 2 degrees we can put no more than 565 gigatons CO2 into atmosphere.
3) Current proven coal, oil and gas reserves is 2,795 gigatons even if we discover no more. That is 5 times what we can burn and stay at 2 degrees. But that is worth $20 trillion in oil company assets, they will fight to the death to be able to burn that carbon.
No matter what you consider “God” to mean, clearly this “unprecedented” hurricane, arriving just before the election is a signal to all of us that we must stop ignoring this problem. Things might be “unprecedented” now, but are projected to get much, much worse.
Here is Grist’s David Roberts explaining that “Climate change is simple: We do something or we’re screwed,”
“The last time we saw anything like this was never.”