“If you think mitigated climate change is expensive, try unmitigated climate change.”
Dr. Richard Gammon
The “Frankenstorm” combination of Hurricane Sandy, super-storm conditions, and climate change is starting to pummel the North American East Coast as I write this. The Weather Channel’s Bryan Norcross said: “This is a beyond-strange situation. It’s unprecedented and bizarre.” It’s almost as if the voices of climate scientists who have been raising the alarm about increasingly severe and chaotic weather for decades has been drowned out; almost like the special interests who have the most to lose in the switch to clean energy, with deep pockets and unrestricted political access, have been spending hundreds of millions to dollars to ensure that the message of climate science does not get out. Peter Sinclair over at ClimateCrocks.com refers to Hurricane Sandy as a “teachable moment” and reminds us that we have to get used to them. These are the key takeaways he suggests from this teachable moment:
Climate Change is changing the weather. The last several years have been marked by a series of extreme weather events that fit the characteristics of a changing climate
A warmer atmosphere provides more energy for storms
A warmer atmosphere holds more water, and that can make storms more destructive
Storm surges are now riding on top of elevated sea levels, amplifying flooding along coastal areas
Right now, Sea surface temps along the Northeast US coast are about 5 F above average, which is likely to keep the storm powered up and load extra moisture, fueling heavy rains. September had the second highest global sea surface temps on record
In the Northeast US, sea levels are rising up to 4 x faster than the global average, making this area more vulnerable now, and in the future
Multiple high tides may help drive flooding fueled by a triple climate-whammy: storm surge from a storm kept alive due to elevated SSTs, sea level rise driven by global warming, and extra heavy rains due to the additional available moisture
Meanwhile, north of the border, Canada is also bracing for the impacts of the Frankenstorm. But last week another natural disaster closed the TransCanada Hwy in northern Ontario:
October 26, 2012: Flooding Forces Wawa To Declare State Of Emergency:
It was such a heavy downpour that if you were driving down the street you wouldn’t see in front of your vehicle,” [Wawa Mayor] Linda Nowicki said. “It was raining that heavily.”
…At this stage, with the two bridges that failed, we’re looking at a $4 to $5 million bill to replace those. And when you add the fact that the other roads that were supposed to be used to get into town are washed out, we will need money to help fix those.”
The damage to some roads connecting Wawa and surrounding areas is extensive.
“One road, I’m told, there’s a 30 foot crater in it. That’s 30 feet deep,” she said.
Our thoughts should be with those people who are going to suffer the worst effects of Hurricane Sandy in the next few days, but let’s also spare some thought for future generations who are going to be suffering more frequent, and worse, weather calamities and food shortages because of the “frankenclimate” our generation’s inaction on this issue will create.