News Release

Hurricane Sandy and Climate on Steroids

BILL MCKIBBEN via Phil Aroneanu [email]
The group 350.org organized activists in unfurling a giant “End Climate Silence” banner in Times Square on Sunday. McKibben, the founder of 350.org said today: “Meteorologists have called this ‘the biggest storm ever to hit the U.S. mainland,’ which is a reminder of how odd our weather has been in this hottest year in American history … scientists are connecting the dots between increasingly extreme weather and global warming. Yet for most of this year’s presidential election, the words ‘climate change’ have gone unmentioned.”

JOE ROMM [email]
Romm is a senior fellow at Center for American Progress, edits Climate Progress and holds a Ph.D. in physics from MIT. He said today: “Like a baseball player on steroids, our climate system is breaking records at an unnatural pace. And like a baseball player on steroids, it’s the wrong question to ask whether a given home run is ’caused’ by steroids.” See the video: “Steroids, Baseball and Climate Change.”

“We also know that as we warm the oceans, we end up with more water vapor in the atmosphere — 4 percent more than was in the atmosphere just a few decades ago. That is why another basic prediction of climate science has been more intense deluges and floods.

“A new study finds, ‘we detect a statistically significant trend in the frequency of large [storm] surge events (roughly corresponding to tropical storm size) since 1923. In particular, we estimate that Katrina-magnitude events have been twice as frequent in warm years compared with cold years.’

“Global warming and the loss of Arctic sea ice has been linked to the kind of blocking pattern that is driving this storm.” See “NOAA Bombshell: Warming-Driven Arctic Ice Loss Is Boosting Chance of Extreme U.S. Weather.”

Romm recently wrote the piece “CNN Bans Term ‘Frankenstorm’, But It’s A Good Metaphor For Warming-Driven Monster: ‘Largest Hurricane In Atlantic History.”

JOSEPH NEVINS [email]
Nevins teaches geography at Vassar College. He recently wrote the piece “Ecological Crisis and the Need to Challenge the 20 Percent,” which states: “Although you would not know it from what passes for debate during the ongoing presidential campaign here in the United States, the biosphere is under siege. A historically high rate of ice melt in the Arctic, devastating floods from the Philippines to Nigeria, a record-setting decline in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, and extreme levels of drought in much of the United States are just some of the recent manifestations.”

TYSON SLOCUM [email]
Director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, Slocum recently told IPA: “For the first time in 24 years, neither the presidential nor vice-presidential candidates were asked a question about climate disruption during the debates. And the candidates have failed to highlight the issue as well — unless you count Governor Romney’s use of climate change as a punchline to a joke in his convention speech. Some argue that the issue isn’t high on voters’ minds, but polls demonstrate otherwise. Rather, the hundreds of millions of dollars that the fossil fuel industry and their allies are spending saturating the airwaves with anti-regulation messages is likely the culprit. Obama’s ‘all of the above’ strategy locks in fossil fuels as the status quo, forcing us farther behind on the sustainable era of renewable energy. There is no such thing as benign fossil fuel production and consumption, and the future of fossil fuels will only become more expensive.”