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ETpro's avatar

Can we expect more storms like Sandy thanks to global warming?

Asked by ETpro (34145 points ) November 1st, 2012

Here’s a great video that explains in a couple of minutes why we can’t say man-made global warming caused Hurricane Sandy to turn so destructive, but we can say that continuing to pump billions of metric tonnes more CO2 into the atmosphere each year than Earth’s natural CO2 removal systems can absorb will absolutely lead to more weather extremes.

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29 Answers

Linda_Owl's avatar

I think that we can expect more storms like Hurricane Sandy & more drought conditions & even greater snow falls. We may not be able to directly link the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy to man’s pollution of the Earth’s Ecosystem, but Climate Scientists have shown that continuing to add CO2 to our atmosphere will intensify Climate Change / Global Warming. If we do not address the problem of Climate Change / Global Warming very soon, we may well find ourselves in the position of ‘doing too little, too late’. Even a small rise in the over-all temperature of our planet will change how our food is grown & the increase in the levels of the oceans will submerge our coastal areas & most of the island nations will be lost & millions of people will be affected by food shortages & the submerging of our coast lines & the submerging of the various island nations.

Rarebear's avatar

In short, yes.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Well, this summer my yard shriveled & cracked…the creek across the street dried up. Last year, my road was closed twice due to flooding…I live in a 100yr flood plain.

For the past decade, our 100yr flood plain appears to flood every two years.

All of our local lakes including Lake Michigan have reached historic low levels & higher than ever temperatures.

My answer to your question based on my backyard and locale observations is a resounding yes.

Monarch butterfly overwintering population in Mexico is predicted to be an historic low. :( ...We had so few in our yard this year I can count them on one hand :(

rojo's avatar

Yes, except in @livelaughlove21‘s world of fantasy.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. Sadly, in some states, it is specifically forbidding to use scientific predictions of rising sea levels by any state agency concerned with oversight of coastal development. Sadly this is what you get when you don’t teach evolution and science in schools – people start believing crap like the environment being created by intelligent design and unchangeable too.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@rojo My sources are from a scientific standpoint. Disagree all you want, but it’s not like I’m saying, “OMG! God would, like, never do that to us! He’ll fix the ozone if there’s a problem. Praise The Lord!” or “It’s a conspiracy theory, sort of like the Holocaust.” I’m not the only one who thinks the global warming hysteria is a bunch if crap. Climate is constantly changing, it’s not a new phenomenon.

jca's avatar

I think yes, according to the MIT Climate Change Study. I have no links right now, not using my regular computer (thanks to being out of my house, thanks to Hurricane Sandy). According to the MIT study, the world will become uninhabitable in less than 100 years. I don’t think they’re coming from a religious standpoint, I think that MIT is as scientific as it gets.

GracieT's avatar

Yes. I’ve always hated the term “global warming.” Because of the use of that term, people that do not believe in it have always been able to look at the present weather and compare it to weather of the past and say “See? It’s snowed more or it rained more than it did last year” as proof that climate change is not the danger it is.

Lightlyseared's avatar

@livelaughlove21 yes the climate is changing constantly. At the moment it is changing towards higher sea levels due to polar ice melting and rapid changes to costal geography. Now of course there is a good chance that a hundred years from now it will change the other way but that doesn’t mean that we should allow people to die now because we are so fucking stupid we have elected people into positions of power who are happy to stick there fingers in their ears and sing lalalalalala and ignore the evidence in front of them right now

ETpro's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I can cite an equal number of Internet links to prove that George W. Bush/Barack Obama/Pope Benedict XVI (take your pick) is the Antichrist. Before the Tobacco Industry finally succumbed to science in the US, you could cite medical doctor after medical doctor who swore smoking was good for your health. They did this because doing so was good for their financial health. Certainly, all the scientists and doctors working for the tobacco industry held tough and even knowingly lied to Congress under oath, perjuring themselves rather than risking the ire of their industry.

The truth is that even today, smoking kills 350,000 Americans per year who use the industry’s product exactly as directed. And in third world countries, the industry is still using the same disinformation campaign and same lies they abandoned in the developed world decades ago. Nicotine is and always has been addictive and smoking does and always has killed people prematurely. No amount of industry sponsored disinformation and pseudoscience can change that truth.

Guess what. The exact same advertising agencies, PR firms and junk science “institutes” that poured out the disinformation campaign for profit from Big Tobacco and now are doing the same for Big Oil, Gas and Coal. One is even shameless enough to be taking money from the Fishing and Food industries to promote the “facts” that mercury in fish is good for you and humans need substantial quantities of saturated fats and trans fats to remain healthy. You can find links aplenty to such “truths” on the Internet.

The Junk Science used to protect the profits of the fossil fuel industry has all been debunked by the real climate science community. Regarding the links you supplied above above, I will answer your “science links” one by one.

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/Global-Warming-Journal-Happer/2012/03/27/id/433983
Not to use an ad hominem as a defense, but come on. It’s an op-ed by a physics professor, not a climatologist. It’s in the Wall Street Journal, an organ that has been historically friendly to Wall Street’s interests, not main street’s. The WSJ op-eds were equally supportive of Big Tobacco profits till reality finally prevailed. And the Wall Street Journal has begun its slide into the gutter of journalism now that Rupert Murdoch has bought it. But as promised, I won’t hinge this on an ad hominem. The professor’s claims are patently untrue. Here’s NASA data on global temperatures as measured over the past 150 years. Compare the last ten years to the period around 1942. Note that 7 of the 10 warmest years in the last 150 years occurred in the last 10 years. So his claim that warming stopped ten years ago is absurd. The average rise from the end of the little ice age to now is 1 degree Celsius, not 0.4 degrees. He’s either grossly misinformed or just plain lying.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2012-07-10/news/ct-oped-0710-byrne-20120710_1_global-warming-climate-change-intergovernmental-panel
Another op-ed in a business friendly paper, this time by an author who doesn’t even pretend to be a scientist of any kind. Why should I believe, as your source argues by assertion only, that Al Gore and the miniscule alternative energy industry’s scant resources have bribed virtually all of Earth’s Climatologists, peer reviewed journals, NASA and the governments of nearly all nations to support a falsehood, but that the $40 trillion per year fossil fuel industry could never use its vastly greater resources to cloud the truth and thus protect its profits? He just recites the zombie arguments that all have already been debunked here and here.

http://www.thenewamerican.com/tech/environment/item/13212-global-climate-warming-stopped-15-years-ago-uk-met-office-admits
This is blatantly Republican partisan site. Along with its headline refuting (so it claims) the reality of real temperature charts like the NASA one listed above, we find “Choose Freedom, Stop Obamacare”, which links to this from the John Birch Society. But again, let me not use an ad hominem alone as doing so risks drifting into the sort of fallacious arguments these references rely solely on. The bulk of this article attempts to resurrect the zombie University of East Anglia “Climategate email scam” which has been thoroughly debunked. Here’s the truth about the emails if you care to read it. And this article also claims that warming stopped 15 years ago instead of the 10 years claimed by your first reference. Again, refer to the data from NASA or this from the IPCC. But the John Birch Society for the truth on science? Seriously, for science?

http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhendrickson/2012/09/16/climate-change-hoax-or-crime-of-the-century/
One more hack journalist (not a scientist) in a business magazine, not a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Let’s see how his “facts” check out. He claims, “Is the earth getting dangerously warm? Probably not, since the earth was warmer than it is now in 7000 of the last 10,000 years.” Yet another zombie denier piece of disinformation. Here’s what that’s based on, and the debunking of same. And of course we have the phony “Climategate” argument dealt with above. That’s one zombie that rises again for nearly every such article.

Now, that done, let me state some facts and I’d like to hear how you would refute them or assure me they are, while true, of no concern. It is a known fact that CO2 is a greenhouse gas. It is a fact that it has an atmospheric lifetime of 30–95 years. It is a fact that human activity is currently adding 29 billion metric tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere every year and that amount keeps ramping upwards with increased demand on fossil fuels as third world countries like China and India industrialize and enter into the first world. It is true that natural sources release much more, but they are balanced by natural absorbers such as land vegetation and the oceans. Growing and continuous human contributions of CO2 are not balanced by natural absorption.

That all leads to the last fact. Atmospheric CO2 levels are rising and have been since the onset of the industrial revolution. The rise is accelerating. Atmospheric CO2 is now 395 PPM‘s_atmosphere, which is its highest level in 800,000 years and its steadily rising. When heavy periods of volcanism sent it higher in the distant past, Earth simply cleaned it up slowly, after the sudden spike had ended. Earth can’t do that when we continue to increase the imbalance.

If you know some secret of how Gaia Earth is going to suddenly learn how to remove the continuous and rising human contribution of CO2, please share it in terms I can understand. But spare me more clippings from business editors for right-wing journals and frothings of the John Birch Society. Let’s see something that has made it into a peer reviewed journal on climatology and survived the critique, because all the facts I shared have passed that acid test.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@ETpro That’s all fine, but you seem to be under the impression that I said it was a fact that global warming has no basis of truth. I didn’t say that. I said that, like many others, I think the hysteria is overblown. If climate change is creating disturbances, which it seems to be, there’s no more evidence that the cause is global warming than there is evidence that it isn’t. Global Warming is not like gravity, the evidence isn’t all that impressive in comparison…yet, anyways. And if I’m wrong and the world is uninhabitable in 100 years, none of us will will be here, so it’s a moot point as far as arguing about it.

And my statement had nothing to do with politics. I’m a Democrat, so there goes that theory. And I use just as many green products as the next person, I know protecting the environment is important, and I know human beings are screwing it up…I’m just not sure global warming is the be-all-end-all cause of that.

But hey, what do I know? I’m certainly not claiming to be an expert, never did, and I don’t feel strongly enough about it to go much further than this.

GracieT's avatar

@ETpro, The right-wing journals make for some hilarious reading! I’ve talked to some people whom believe that climate change is a joke, that scientists are making “a mountain out of a molehill.” I never cease to be amazed at how they can deny obvious truth.

ETpro's avatar

@GracieT At risk of provoking an ad hominem attack from @livelaughlove21, I was struck by something Rachel Maddow covered in her program tonight about how the new right wing just ignores data that doesn’t support their ideology. There’s this on her blog but she did a whole piece tonight which apparently isn’t online yet, showing how again and again, right wingers from Bush on just bury facts they don’t like. Bush had report after report from his own administration staff buried when it showed that his cherished beliefs weren’t working. John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney have done the same.

We may indeed be trying to bridge the gap between a universe we live in where our beliefs are based on observed facts, and an alternate universe where the right believes that their beliefs control facts, and any facts that don’t fit beliefs are simply not worthy of attention.

@livelaughlove21 You’re right about me not being likely to be around in 100 years. However, given the extension medical science is making in life expectancy, you just may be.

Even so, being dead may not give me as much comfort as it currently does you. I have 3 children (2 surviving) and 13 grandchildren to be concerned about. Many of them will be around to deal with the world I leave them.

The science isn’t controversial, although it definitely is complex to build accurate models. Among peer reviewed articles in climatology, there are virtually none any longer questioning that human activities are causing an unprecedented buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that CO2 is a greenhouse gas which will cause continued and eventually runaway warming.

55 million years age there was an enormous spike in first CO2 and then methane (which normally lays frozen in tundra regions and in frozen methane clathrates at the bottom of the oceans. Methane is a greenhouse gas at least 20 times more potent than CO2. And there are hundreds of billions of tons of it frozen and available for release if we hit a high enough temperature.

The global warming 55 million years ago appears to have been caused by a spike in volcanic activity, and it resulted in the warmest period known through examination of sediment cores. It was called the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM. Global temperatures rose about 6 °C (11 °F) in 20,000 years. The result was an increase of sea levels of 350 feet, massive extinctions of both flora and fauna, the melting of most of earth’s ice caps. Polar temperatures rose as high as 10 to 20 °C (50 to 68 °F) and the Arctic ocean surface temperature appears to have reached as high as 22 °C (72 °F).

So we do have some history to show what runaway CO2 and methane in the atmosphere can do. Imagine trying to feed 7 billion humans while mass extinctions of plants and both domestic and wild animals are underway and the oceans are rising 350 feet. It’s not what I want to leave to my progeny.

jca's avatar

@ETpro: I, too, am concerned about my daughter who is currently 5 and just may be around in 100 years, and if she wants to have any chidlren, that will be a concern for her in the future.

livelaughlove21's avatar

@ETpro Hold on… I never attacked you personally. And again, I’m not a right-wing Republican. In fact, I posted a question not long ago about being nervous that Romney might actually win the election. So any statement about right-wing individuals won’t be spurring any “hominem attack” from me. I’m not sure how I can be clearer on that, but there was nothing political about my statement.

ETpro's avatar

@jca Exactly. I think after we have kids, most of us tend to want to leave them a better world than the one we inherited. I’m sure most of those confused by the disinformation campaign the fossil fuel people are carrying out to protect their mammoth profits. I reckon that even the doctors employed by Big Tobacco in its disinformation campaign to testify that nicotine was not addictive and tobacco smoke is good for us privately told their children not to smoke. Let us just hope that Oil and Coal executives realize the threat their activities pose to their children before we pass some tipping point and can no longer mitigate the damage already done. Currently, atmospheric CO2 is rising more rapidly than it appears to have done during the PETM I mentioned above. Fossil Fuel producers don’t tend to have climatologists on staff. They have chemists and geologists. Many of these scientists are likely hoodwinked by their own bosses disinformation efforts since climatology falls outside their area of expertise and its findings come into conflict with their immediate economic interests.

@livelaughlove21 If I said anything that you interpreted as deflecting a personal attack, that was not my intention. I’m trying to debate on a factual level, not sink into a string of personal attacks. And I felt you were doing the same. I did not accuse you of launching an ad hominem attack against me. Rather, I mentioned ad hominems above because I felt that the data did not support the links you posted and it was their failure to merge assertions with observed facts that undermined their argument, not the fact that the sources were questionable as scientific journals.

Also, I should have been more clear that I was not accusing you personally of being a right winger, a Republican, or any such. I have no idea what your personal politics may be. I should have been clearer that I was referring to the bulk of those making the fossil fuel industry’s argument for them in the public discourse on the topic. I apologize for not having been clearer.

@GracieT Here’s more on the right’s burial of inconvenient facts, as if refusing to face a problem will actually resolve the problem. I’m not sure it’s part of right versus left. I’d guess it has more to do with the thought patterns of authoritarian followers, and that if we examined left-wing authoritarian followers in the DPRK, for instance, we would find a whole host of left-wing authoritarian followers behaving in exactly the same curious fact-denying manner.

rojo's avatar

I don’t really see any hysteria about climate change. What I do see is a bunch of folks who are really getting frustrated with the lack of progress in coming to terms with it as a society and taking positive steps to deal with it.
I live in Texas. We grow a lot of cotton, corn, feed grains, rice and wheat. but if I look 20 years down the road and things keep on changing the way they are, what will be the viable alternatves? We also raise a lot of beef but with the ongoing (albeit less intense this year) drought many people have sold or drastically reduced their herds. What do people need to be looking toward instead of beef production?
Water is becoming an issue as well, I just saw an article about San Antonio putting in a desalination plant so they can treat the brackish well water available in the area. Good for them but what is next?

serenade's avatar

We can expect more storms like Sandy thanks to weather modification technologies and disaster capitalism.

jonsblond's avatar

You might find the following link interesting @ETpro, Extreme Ice Survey

ETpro's avatar

@rojo. Well stated.

@serenade Thanks for weighing in.

@jonsblond I would hope that even those who argue with charts of temperatures would find it difficult to argue with a film of retreating glaciers.

Ron_C's avatar

The weather systems are playing out just as science predicted. I expect droughts, floods, and famine to continue for the rest of my life time. Possibly when a few island nations and major cities like New York sink permanently, the U.S. will stop acting as if it owns the world and actually help to reduce global warming. Otherwise, some day, we’ll have an atmosphere similar to Venus. Good question , @ETpro

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C True. We are not there yet. The Fossil Fuel Industry has been running a whole series of ads boosting increased domestic production of fossil fuels as the way to go.

jca's avatar

Another thing to consider is that even though the US may be taking steps toward reducing greenhouse gases, China and India, two of the most populous countries, are now becoming more industrialized and don’t have regulations like we do. They have more automobiles than ever before and are becoming more prosperous. In countries like Brazil, the rain forests are being depleted. Not good signs for us.

ETpro's avatar

@jca Your concern with China and India brought to mind this excellent TED talk from legendary Silicon Valley financier, John Doerr. I have a small business, and I’ve taken it green. It cost a bit on the front end but is saving me money every month now, and when I look at those savings over the next 10 years, I would be a frigging idiot not to have gone green. I only wish now I had realized that earlier.

Why have I taken my valuable business time writing all this? Here’s why.

ETpro's avatar

I just ran across a great article in ’‘Why So Many TV Weathermen Don’t Believe in Climate Change’’ as chronicled in Slate via Longform.org. Tracing it back to source, it’s from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Don’t be misled by the deceptive title of the story in the first link. It’s titled, “Why So Many TV Weathermen Don’t Believe in Climate Change” but doesn’t do anything credible to address the subject question. Instead it explores evidence the skeptics are wrong or even worse, driven by financial gain for big corporate interests controlling the fossil fuel industry. The original source in the Columbia Journalism Review not only is titled “Hot Air:
Why don’t TV weathermen believe in climate change?” but actually attempts to answer that question. Both are in-depth coverage, so if you care about the subject question they raise, and only have time to read one, choose the second link from the CJR.

ETpro's avatar

And then there is this piece of evidence from a notably unbiased source.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Thank you @ETpro, we are still fighting for true answers on the Climate Change that is clearly happening on the only planet that we have to live on & we are still getting “double-speak”.

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