Monday, November 5, 2012

CLIMATE CHANGE, COMPASSION AND PRIORITIES

Hurricane Sandy has wreaked her vengeance on the Northeast.  The storm was devastating,  leaving thousands homeless and shivering.  The fires at Breezy Point, NY, fanned on by Sandy's winds, tore through the middle class neighborhood leaving behind nothing but a few chimney stacks and the ghostly impression of post-WWII Europe.  The devastation was widespread and heartbreaking.  Even the famed Atlantic City Boardwalk didn't survive the power of the sea.  My thoughts and prayers are with those who are suffering, friends and family among them.  But there's one thing I know about Northeasterners.  They will get through this (granted, probably with a good deal of cursing), and they will come out of it stronger than before.

As usual, Al gore is out promoting global warming again, attempting to link Hurricane Sandy to the church doctrine science he has been promoting for more than a decade.  On a certain level, you really can't blame the guy for trying - if I stood to become a billionaire upon passage of certain climate change laws, I'd be pushing the theory every chance I got, too.  But even so, the fact is people are hurting, and blowhards like Mr. Gore and Mayor Bloomberg expostulating on how we have brought this destruction down on our own heads somehow (and there's more - and worse - to come) does no good to the people who have lost everything and don't even know where their next hot meal is coming from.

The problem for Al is that, as bad as Sandy was, in the grand scheme she was really just par for the course, insofar as frequency and strengths of hurricanes striking the Northeast goes.  That the damage is so severe is more a testament to an overpopulated coastline, our crumbling infrastructure, and an unfortunate tendency to brush off such approaching storms as non-events than to an excessively vengeful Mother Nature bent on extracting a pound of flesh. 

In 1985, Hurricane Gloria bounced around the Atlantic basin for twelve days.  It hit the coast of North Carolina first, but instead of moving inland, the storm was pushed back out into the Atlantic, whereupon it set it's sights on Long Island, NY.  After cutting a devastating path across the island, it again made landfall for the third and final time in Connecticut.  Eight people lost their lives, and the storm cost taxpayers about $2 billion in today's dollars.

In 1960. Hurricane Donna struck Marathon and Ft. Meyers, FL, coastal North Carolina and, finally, the eastern end of Long Island. 

In 1954, New York was hit not once but twice.  Hurricane Hazel tore through Battery Park with wind gusts up to 113 mph followed by Hurricane Carol, which struck eastern Long Island and produced gusts of 120 mph.  The storm surge wiped out a portion of the Montaugh Highway, which cut off the eastern portion of the Island.

In 1944, the Great Atlantic Hurricane ripped through Long Island, killing six.

The New England Hurricane of 1938, also known as the "Long Island Express", caused massive property damage throughout New England and claimed more than six hundred lives.

The list goes on, back through time, all the way to the Great Storm of 1683, whose winds and storm surge created the Fire Island Cut.

And that's just New York.  As for New Jersey, my home state has been relatively sheltered from major storms, but she, too has suffered the wrath of Mother Nature:

The Storm of October 1804 struck Atlantic City as a Category 2 hurricane. 

The Great September Gale of 1815 did not technically make landfall in New Jersey, but still managed to wreak havoc as it made it's way up the coastline.

1821 brought the Norfolk and Long Island Hurricane that made landfall at Cape May, NJ.  While the town was devastated by the winds and storm surge, the surrounding areas were, thankfully, sparsely populated, minimizing damage.

The Gale of 1878 caused eight deaths and significant damage to western New Jersey.

There is even geological evidence that a major storm struck the coastline as much as a hundred years before Europeans colonized the area in the 1500s.

My point being that the East Coast has long suffered hurricanes and tropical storms - predating even the Industrial Revolution.  I was living on Long Island in 1985; Gloria's eye passed over my town.  Power was out for weeks, but we were lucky because we hadn't lost water.  In some areas along the eastern tip of the Island suffered without power and/or water for upwards of a month.  It was a powerful storm.  But it wasn't unusual.

As for global warming, recent studies have shown that there actually has been no warming since 1998

When the Goracle and his acolytes point to warmer temperatures in the Atlantic Basin, he ignores the cooler temps in the Pacific, much like the Ross ice shelf's melting is constantly hyped by alarmists, but Arctic ice thickening is ignored.

Pointing to the high cost of disaster recovery as proof that storms are getting worse is fallacious.  Did anyone really think a hurricane hitting some of the nation's largest city centers would be cheap?  Did anyone really think few people would be impacted, when the region accounts for fully one-fifth of our population?  Do those two things have anything at all to do with global warming?

Instead of rending garments over the unproved theory of global warming, perhaps our leaders would be better used by putting their energy into helping the people impacted by forces well beyond the control of mere mortals.  The fact is, east coast hurricanes are not unheard of - in fact, we have quite a history of them - and we may well be entering a cycle that mirrors the very active 1950's.

The plight of those in New York and New Jersey and how they can be helped should be the only topic of discussion when it comes to this storm.  Cheap attempts at furthering the global warming narrative give cold comfort to those who have lost loved ones and are suffering without shelter, clothing or food.


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