Bloomberg Businessweek Gets It Right: Sandy Wasn't "Caused" By Climate Change - It IS Global Warming

Fri, 2012-11-02 00:50Ben Jervey
Ben Jervey's picture

Bloomberg Businessweek Gets It Right: Sandy Wasn't "Caused" By Climate Change - It IS Global Warming

Those crazy, radical hippies at Bloomberg Businessweek have gone and done it. With the blunt, no-nonsense cover that likely already appeared on your Facebook feed or Twitter stream or Tumblr dashboard, Businessweek dared state with certainty what so many media outlets have nervously danced around in their coverage of Superstorm Sandy: It’s Global Warming, Stupid.

The cover is sure to generate some controversy, but, as Bloomberg Businessweek editor Josh Tyrangiel tweeted, “only among the stupid.”

And, I’d add, the nefarious purveyors of disinformation – the merchants of doubt – that are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. (Who probably aren’t stupid…just greedy.)

While the cover is an instant classic, the article itself is just as great – clear, direct, and unequivocal in the connection between extreme weather like Superstorm Sandy and manmade global climate disruption.

Not to dismiss the rest of the mediasphere. There has been an encouraging abundance of smart, nuanced coverage of the climate connection. Rather than rehash the science here, I’d strongly encourage you to check out these must-read analyses:


Read and watch all the coverage above, and you’ll notice a similarity in how the issue is framed. It’s not: “Does Sandy prove global warming?, or: Did climate change cause Sandy?

When those questions are posed, coverage fails.

It’s worth noting that an entire meta-dialogue about how to discuss this “climate attribution” question has blossomed over the past week, mostly through Andrew Revkin’s Dot Earth posts. (And if you really want to get into the weeds, a meta-meta-dialogue has sprung up around the various responsibilities of journalists and scientists and climate advocates in talking about all of this. )

I'd actually submit that these questions of direct climate attribution are the questions that the merchants of doubt want us to be asking, and flailing to answer. Because the answers are unclear and unsatisfying.

No, Sandy doesn’t prove global warming. (Decades of evidence and research by the world’s best climatologists does.) And whether climate change “caused” Sandy is subject to semantic dispute.

Which is why it’s the entirely wrong question to ask. A pointless, semantic question rooted in ignorance of the science and the subject.

This is crucial, and nobody explains it better than Kevin Trenberth in his paper “How To Relate Climate Extremes to Climate Change.”

The answer to the oft-asked question of whether an event is caused by climate change is that it is the wrong question. All weather events are affected by climate change because the environment in which they occur is warmer and moister than it used to be….

David Roberts echoes the sentiment very clearly, in a paragraph that I've been forwarding widely to curious friends and family:

There is no division, in the physical world, between “climate change storms” and “non-climate change storms.” Climate change is not an exogenous force acting on the atmosphere. There is only the atmosphere, changing. Everything that happens in a changed atmosphere is “caused” by the atmosphere, even if it’s within the range of historical variability. Climate change is just the term we use to describe those changes.

Which brings us back to the brilliance of the Bloomberg Businessweek cover: it really is global warming, stupid.

It's not “climate change caused” or “proof of global warming.” It is global warming: We know for a fact that greenhouse gases from human activities have warmed the air and the oceans. We know for a fact that every aspect of weather is a result of climate conditions. It is impossible to say that Hurricane Sandy would have formed in any other climate than the one that humans have influenced.

Superstorm Sandy is not proof nor evidence of climate change. It is simply a weather event born of a climate, changed. 

Comments

About time. Cheers to Bloomberg.

Roger Pielke wrote an article explaining that rising costs of bad weather are due to more people and more buildings. 

He knows, or should know, that the re-insurers separate the costs into categories, geophysical, meteorological, hydrological and climatological. The geological expenses are not rising substantially.

http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Munich-Re.gif

 

… its a level headed article.  Good on Bloomberg.

Well, if Bloomberg says it, then it must be true, right? =\

Funny how the old warmist saw “Weather is not Climate” doesn't apply equally here, eh?

Enjoy your day in the sun fellas, it's going to be a long cold winter!

that you haven't read the article.  Because that is precisely what it talks about.

Weather Is Not Climate.

… from Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. On Oct. 29, Foley thumbed thusly: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.” …

 

As always, you've demonstrated that you haven't read something, and that you are utterly wrong.

Next time, read the article first.

is due to melting due to global warming. Ice melts when the air is warmer.

One when area of earth is significant differently suddenly, nearby weather patterns change. Greenland had a blocking area which drove the hurricane Sandy inland. Would there have been a storm named Sandy that went in New Jersey this October if the Arctic area wasn't different? No. There might have been some other storm that would have happened, but Sandy would not have played out the way it did.

Will there be more, larger hurricanes due to global warming? Unclear. Have there been more violent small storms in NH in the last 8 or so years? Yes.

 

Anyone who tries to downplay the damage and insist its not a big deal should take a look at the before and after photos;

http://www.abc.net.au/news/specials/hurricane-sandy-before-after-photos/

[x]

ExxonMobil, the nation's largest oil and gas company, will begin disclosing risks associated with shale drilling and fracking to investors, in response to a long-running campaign by a coalition of shareholders.

In February, the groups of investors in a handful of major oil and gas companies including Exxon, Chevron and EOG Resources, demanded for the fifth year in a row more information from companies about the risks associated with fracking. The motion...

read more