Rich Lowry: Global-warming alarmists need disasters too exploit

Syndicated columnist

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The new cover of Bloomberg Businessweek has a photo of a flooded New York City over a screaming headline, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid.”

The magazine thus joins the effort to make the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy into a piece of cheap agitprop. Global-warming alarmists are desperate for a threat from climate change that’s more immediate and telegenic than the low-lying Maldives supposedly sinking day by day beneath a rising sea.

They need disasters, and need them right away. There’s a reason that Al Gore used an ominous photo of Hurricane Katrina seen from space as the emblematic image for his propagandistic documentary, An Inconvenient Truth.

In the case of Sandy, the alarmists revert to a simplistic style of reasoning (if it can be called that): Something bad happened. It must therefore have an easily identifiable cause. They then wrap this highly emotional appeal in the incontestable clothing of science. Bloomberg Businessweek’s editor, Josh Tyrangiel, sent out a tweet: “Our cover story this week may generate controversy, but only among the stupid.”

On the face of it, though, it requires belief in a series of improbabilities to be smart enough to meet Mr. Tyrangiel’s standards. Because of global warming, there was a Hurricane Sandy. Because of global warming, Sandy ran into a high-pressure system and took a highly unusual westward turn directly into the coast. Because of global warming, it made that turn into New Jersey and affected the richest, most populated areas in the country. Because of global warming, it hit at high tide during a full moon.

The Bloomberg Businessweek piece acknowledges that it’s “unsophisticated” to blame one storm on climate change, then does exactly that anyway. It quotes an official with the Environmental Defense Fund making a baseball analogy: “We can’t say that steroids caused any home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.” But what if a hitter is said to be on more steroids than ever, yet his power goes down, not up?

University of Colorado professor Roger Pielke notes that a Category 3 hurricane hasn’t made landfall in the U.S. since 2005, the longest spell without one in more than a hundred years. “While it’s hardly mentioned in the media,” he writes, “the U.S. is currently in an extended and intense hurricane ‘drought.’”

On the other hand, there were fearsome hurricanes long before anyone dreamed up, let alone manufactured, an SUV. In 1938, the so-called Long Island Express devastated Long Island and New England.

An old newsreel film describing it sounds like a report on Sandy. A high-pressure system kept it from blowing out to sea. It hit densely populated areas. It brought a huge storm surge. The Category 3 storm killed hundreds of people.

In 1821, another storm flooded New York City all the way up to Canal Street. If Bloomberg Businessweek had existed 190 years ago, it might have reported on the damage and warned: “This is our future if we develop modern industry and transportation and make them both dependent on fossil fuels, idiots.”

The theory for global warming giving us more intense hurricanes is that warmer oceans will feed more energy into them. But the weather is complicated. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change — not a bastion of climate-change “deniers” — has said, “There is low confidence in any observed long-term (i.e., 40 years or more) increases in tropical cyclone activity (i.e., intensity, frequency, duration).”

The alarmists want us to crack down on fossil fuels and crimp our growth right now based on the bet that adjusting the climate to our liking in 100 years or so is within our power, and that when we endeavor to do it, China and India will feel moved to do the same. People who believe this shouldn’t throw around the word “stupid” so lightly.

King Features Syndicate


Okay. So do nothing, right?

Yes, Mr. Lowry, I agree with everything that you said but it's all criticism without solutions. I think that NYC Mayor Bloomberg has it right when he says that we can disagree regarding the cause of warming, but not the affect of warming. SO, what do you propose to do to help coastal areas that are already feeling the affect of sea-level rise? Oh, and by the way, the coastal zone extends beyond the interior mountain ranges when we talk about hurricanes, so it's not just about beach front damage. Absent the solution part of the story, this article is just so much life-sucking gripe-and-moan fish wrapper. So, here's what I think, if anyone cares. Sea level rise is a fact. Simply put, increasing sea level will cause immense long term damage, even if, against expectations, storms diminish. So, what is our plan to protect what must be protected and replace what must inevitably be lost? How will we accommodate the resulting population displacement that is being forced by sea level rise? That last point is extremely important. We should not accommodate population displacement as emergencies as we did with Katrina in New Orleans, and as we are now doing in NJ and NY. Your point regarding the infrequency of large storms misses the point. This very infrequency IS the problem with beach-front development. Decades may pass between major storms, as they have in NJ, NY and Long Island. So development steams ahead while everyone holds their breath and forgets the lessons of the last great storm. Then the inevitable happens and those decades of hopeful development are smashed in a single day and everyone acts surprised. This is exactly what those development fools on our own coast foisted on us through our legislature when they down-graded our own state report on sea-level rise. Remember this when the Outer Banks and sound-side mainland is leveled by the, yes, inevitable CAT 3, 4 or perhaps 5. Google "Galveston Hurricane Ike 2008" to see what Nags Head will look like. Now THAT is stupid. The alarm has been sounded. The damage is being realized NOW. So where are your uplifting articles that propose real solutions to these very real problems? Clean energy is something that we can do here at home and the American technologies and businesses that spin off can do business around the world. Here's an opportunity for Republican AND Democrat job creation right here in North Carolina. This IS an opportunity for American world leadership if only we can put big oil in it's place and take care of our people instead of only taking care of profits. Instead of denying the science, even if you disagree with it, we should be using it to build new business opportunities. Why is NY talking to Dutch instead of American companies about tidal barrier construction? Where all of that stuff you mentioned is the down-side of the science, Americans should see the silver lining. That used to be our national mind-set. Now North Carolina has an entirely Republican controlled government. We already know their thoughts on global warming and energy development - deny the first and full speed ahead on the second, and damn the little man and the very water that he drinks. In this regard, I see nothing hopeful in our election of a Duke Energy guy as our governor. I'm very afraid that this governor and legislature will purposely agree to miss the opportunity that is apparent in global warming, simply because of ideology and corporate campaign contributions. Perhaps they will prove me wrong, but I doubt it. There is a much, much larger story to be told here, if you, Mr. Lowry, will only tell it. Respectfully Submitted, Force 12

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