Hurricane Sandy Fueled By Global Warming

Image from TPM

I wonder if U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe and his family will head to an Appalachian state today and build an igloo replica dedicated to former Vice President Al Gore.

Inhofe’s family members built a faux igloo in 2010 when a major snowstorm hit the Washington, D.C. area. It was a gesture to mock Gore and anyone else, really, who takes global warming seriously. The intensity of snowstorm proved, see, that global warming is, to use Inhofe’s own repeated word on the subject, a “hoax.” Case closed.

Of course, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe is off campaigning for “legitimate rape” Senate candidate Todd Akin in Missouri as the East Coast devastation of Hurricane Sandy becomes apparent, and the hurricane has now been consistently cited as another weather event we can associate with our warming planet.

Will Hurricane Sandy invalidate Inhofe’s radical beliefs among some so-called skeptics? Maybe. Although climate change hasn’t been a major topic in the presidential election, Hurricane Sandy may well demand that this country take a much closer look at how carbon emissions are systematically changing our climate. If the sheer amount of devastation doesn’t do it on its own, then surely insurance providers might have something to say. One damage estimate before the storm hit stood at $88 billion.

Here are the three major reasons Hurricane Sandy can be attributed to global warming: (1) Warmer global temperatures, (2) higher ocean levels and (3) increased moisture in the atmosphere. These combine to produce devastation. A hurricane of this magnitude—some said the overall storm it produced was the largest in American history—coming so late in the year demands our attention and major scientific scrutiny.

The normal caveat is that one weather event alone can’t be specifically tied to global warming, but given the serious and intense weather events over the last year or so, from major wildfires in Colorado to the drought in the Midwest to the warmest winter on record in this country to, now, Hurricane Sandy, perhaps it’s time we drop even this qualification.

As George Lakoff, writing about Hurricane Sandy in the Huffington Post, puts it:

Global warming is real, and it is here. It is causing -- yes, causing -- death, destruction, and vast economic loss. And the causal effects are getting greater with time. We cannot merely adapt to it. The costs are incalculable. What we are facing is huge. Each day, the amount of extra energy accumulating via the heating of the earth is the equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. Each day!

Inhofe’s absurd argument that many leading scientists who study global warming are involved in some vast, left-wing conspiracy or “hoax” seems especially shallow and small today. The reality is that Inhofe uses his outrageous claims to protect the interests of the oil and gas industry, which have contributed $511,250 to his campaigns since 2007.