Learning (?) lessons from Sandy

by Judith Curry

America is growing more skilled – and getting better fast – at emergency response to disasters of growing geographical reach, cost, and complexity. But we can and should do more. America needs a comparable national effort and accompanying long-term investment in reducing the need for emergency response on such a grand scale. – Bill Hooke

Bill Hooke has a very important post on Living in the Real World, entitled Hurricane Sandy’s Real Lesson . . . will we learn it?   Here are some key excerpts, but I encourage you to read the entire article.

The need for emergency response will never go away. But we shouldn’t resign ourselves to the idea that emergencies will necessarily continue to grow in scope, number and impact, just because our society is growing in numbers, in property exposure, and in economic activity. We can grow our society’s resilience to such events. We can reduce the geographical extent and the population adversely affected by future events.

[The catastrophes are partly] the result of a failure to learn from experience; an insistence on “rebuilding as before.”  Each catastrophe should trigger a national conversation, not just at the federal but also state and local levels along the lines of “what can our community here learn from what happened (over there)?” And that conversation should lead to a set of mutually-supportive private- and public-sector actions to build resilience at the community level and reduce future risk.

Today we routinely file environmental impact statements detailing the implications for the environment of this or that undertaking (a new strip mine, an agricultural start-up, etc). We should similarly file statements indicating the impact of real estate development; the construction of buildings, dams, and levees; and other major projects – on the increased vulnerability to hazards they will impose on others. In this politically polarized climate, this will seem to many like another unwanted federal “taking,” but why should my freedom extend to building a levee to protect my property that will increase the risk to your property downstream on that same river? Shouldn’t I have to consult you? The requirement for Environmental Impact Statements prompted numerous complaints at the time, but today, we’ve internalized the process. It’s an accepted part of doing business. And it’s the right thing to do. That’s the similar intent of the No-Adverse-Impact policy advice of the Association of State Floodplain Managers.

Let’s get the public- and private-sectors to the table to talk strategically about how they can continue to work together to reduce disaster losses in this country. Many companies these days have business continuity plans. They know what they have to do to keep their doors open in the face of disasters. And they take those actions as best they can. But the companies can’t execute those plans if as result of the disaster their employees lose homes and either can’t make it to work or are preoccupied with domestic problems. And those open stores won’t do any business if their customers’ communities have been disrupted.  Companies need a forum for partnering with local-, state-, and national government to reduce community vulnerability. 

Insurance companies might provide a useful starting point. It’s likely that Sandy’s impact along all that built-up shoreline will once again highlight opportunities for improving the National Flood Insurance Program. The insurance companies, [federal agencies], and the publics they all serve have skin in the game. Such discussions are needed at the federal, state and local levels. 

Here’s a final action. We can keep score. The National Academy of Sciences recommended over a decade ago that the U.S. Department of Commerce add this input to its collection of economic statistics. That recommendation should be implemented. It’s human nature to improve performance with respect to what we measure. Figures would be noisy year-to-year, but over time, we would all see the rise of those dollar losses first begin to slow and then level off, even as our economy continues to grow.

JC comments:  Thank you Bill Hooke for your insightful analysis ad important recommendations.   Good weather predictions and effective emergency response, while impressive and important, aren’t sufficient to deal with the rapidly expanding losses we are seeing in the U.S. and world wide from weather disasters.

Hooke’s comments are geared towards the U.S., and are arguably applicable to other developed countries.  The challenges (and arguably the solutions) are somewhat different in the developing world.  The low hanging fruit here is to get good weather forecasts to these countries.   My company CFAN has been trying to do this (under Peter Webster’s leadership) with some small success; it is very very difficult to negotiate the complex bureaucracies in these countries.   There are some signs of private sector weather forecast companies emerging in Asia, which should help the situation.

240 responses to “Learning (?) lessons from Sandy

  1. Roddy Campbell

    ‘…aren’t sufficient to deal with the rapidly expanding losses we are seeing in the U.S….’ – are you seeing rapidly expanding losses? Sandy ranked 17th in losses acc RPJr in today’s WSJ?

  2. David Springer

    “the rapidly expanding losses we are seeing in the U.S. and world wide from weather disasters”

    Linky to support the “rapidly expanding” part of that in the US?

    • David Springer


      The grafic shows the economic impacts for different countries. Even so that a lot of disasters hit the US the economic loss is insignificant. South Americas well as the Asian Regions, Africa and India are far more vulnerable for such events.

      I suspect you cannot make a case for rapidly expanding losses from natural disasters in the US because when such losses are properly expressed as a percentage of GDP one finds GDP has grown faster than the losses.

      The simplistic version that might sell to the unwashed masses is a rising absolute number of deaths, for instance, while failing to inform the reader that the number is falling as a percentage of total population. I consider that to be intellectual dishonesty used in support of a hidden agenda. An agenda in this case that is probably about growing CFAN revenue.

      • I followed the link above to wrsc. I followed the link in wrsc to Satellite Data Indicates Unprecedented Greenland Ice Sheet Surface Melt. In that story, I found: Ice cores from Summit show that melting events of this type occur about once every 150 years on average.

        What? an unprecedented event that happens every 150 years?

        THAT IS NOT AN UNPRECEDENTED EVENT! That is just more alarmism.

    • David Springer

      And by the way, to put a blunt point on it Dr. Curry, the dead bodies from Sandy aren’t even cold yet and here you are talking about how to leverage it for personal financial gain.

      You should probably at least wait until the subways are pumped out, electricity is restored, and the funerals are over before doing the crass materialistic exercises.

      JC comment: Ok, this deserves comment. Over the years, my company has spent several hundred thousand dollars (from our meager profits) to support humanitarian efforts in South Asia, and Peter Webster has made 17 trips to Bangladesh (and contracted malaria in the process). If I wanted to do something for personal financial gain, this is about the last thing I would be doing.

      • Roddy Campbell

        Steady on, old boy?

      • David Springer

        I didn’t even read your comment before making my first one three minutes later. Interesting we both took exception to the same claim of rapidly expanding cost. Extreme is my middle name. Perhaps if you were more like me the U.S. would still be a British possession. If I were more like you we might both be German possessions.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        David Springer: And by the way, to put a blunt point on it Dr. Curry, the dead bodies from Sandy aren’t even cold yet and here you are talking about how to leverage it for personal financial gain.

        I think you’ll find on rereading — that isn’t what she wrote.

        To put it bluntly, that is a pretty stupid comment.

      • Well, yes, this remark is completely out of order. Certain aspects of capitalism may be morally questionable , but making a business out of weather and climate predictions? Come on! Even a lefty like me can’t see anything wrong with that.

      • David Springer

        I didn’t say there was anything wrong with for-profit corporations. I said it was tacky to promote a for-profit corporation in the business of making hurricane forecasts before the bodies are cold in this latest hurricane disaster.

      • David Springer

        If it’s a charity then I suggest you organize it as a charity.

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        David Springer: If it’s a charity then I suggest you organize it as a charity.

        Don’t be narrow minded. Lots of profit-seeking people and companies donate large amounts of money to charity.

    • David Springer


      This shows the very steep decline in per capita death rate from natural disasters across the globe in the past 100 years (up through 2006). But that’s a given for anyone modestly well informed on the subject. I’m looking for economic impact which I suspect as a percetage of GDP is also declining but probably not as strikingly as death rate.

      One such study for the U.S. uses FEMA disaster relief payments as a percent of GDP and shows them tripling from 0.01% of GDP to 0.03% of GDP (insignificant but still rising rapidly) from 1980 to present but this is seriously flawed as FEMA outlays are wholly dependent on rules and procedures and compensation rates and disaster definitions rather than actual economic damage incurred. Payments by private insurance companies would be a far superior metric. And I’m not nearly convinced that rapidly falling death rate from natural disasters isn’t a valid proxy for economic impact.

      Below has some data derived from FEMA expenditures that is probably the most widely cited supporting evidence for the growing cost argument. I include it for fairness even though I reject using FEMA expenditure as a metric for economic impact for the reasons cited above.


      • David Springer


        Look at the chart showing FEMA outlays as a percent of GDP from 1962 through 2000. One can easily spot the political nature of it if one looks for it.

        See the very very steep decline from 1980 through 1992 then the incredibly steep rise from 1992 to 2000?

        Ask yourself if that was because there was some huge change in actual economic damage from natural disasters during those timeframes or whether it has more to do with Ronald Reagan/ HW Bush being in charge of FEMA from 1980-1992 and Bill Clinton in charge from 1992-2000. ;-)

        FEMA isn’t a valid metric for actual economic damage. QED

      • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

        That’s better.

    • Actually, landfalling hurricanes and suchlike are on a steep long-term decline. This is possibly due to anthropogenic influences. If so, they should be identified and encouraged!

  3. Many years ago, I read a book which had a title something like “Act of Man, Act of God”, which was very much along the lines of what Hooke has written. However, I have googled it, without success. This is not a new problem. It has been known about for years.

  4. But are “the rapidly expanding losses we are seeing in the U.S. and world wide from weather disasters” increasing as a share of GNP or as a share of the population size? More people=More losses.

    A perspective I read some years ago, comparing and contrasting US and European attitudes, considered it rooted in different cultural/political/economic attitudes. It ran thus: Europeans were more likely to make a law preventing you from doing something (for a “greater good”), Americans will let you do it, but sue you afterwards for recompense if they can show negligence etcetera in a court of law. Just like attitudes to gun law I guess.

    • …and I’m not expressing a blanket opinion of either. Both approaches have merits. Prohibitive cost or impracticality will usually rule-out one of the two.

      The ‘environmentalist’ approach today commonly attempts to simply re-define how, AND BY WHO, those ‘costs’ get defined when traditional economic accounting is transparently against them.

    • Part of the explanation for the US being more economically dynamic and innovative than sclerotic Europe.

  5. This was discussed last night on PBS. For the first time climate was the subject and two viewpoints were invited. The lead in piece shows alarmist bias, but the question is fairly raised. Joe Romm argues for mitigation, of course, and Kenneth Green of AEI argues for adaptation.

    • Thanks for the link, i listened to this, well worth listening to

      • Except all the premises are false. Extreme storms are becoming far less frequent, not more. The largest danger is complacency.

        I call BS.

      • I listened, and have come away with a question. The dominant meme from the program was Andrew Cuomo’s claim that hundred year events are happening every ten years or something to that effect. My question is, when speaking of a hundred year flood, for example, is it being claimed such floods tend to recur in that particular place about once every hundred years, or does the the recurrence frequency apply to a larger area, such as a city, county or state? In other words, are we experiencing deteriorating weather or improved communication?

  6. Thanks for the kind words/mention, Judith.

    I see a few comments from folks who are skeptical that losses are increasing. The best long-term time series I know of comes from Munich Reinsurance. People have found room for improvement in these estimates. And loss data are noisy; highly variable year-on-year. But the folks at Munich Re find increases in inflation-adjusted losses that amount to a doubling every decade. This is comparable to if it does not exceed GDP growth. The best way to look at it from my view is that it roughly matches growth in property exposure, We show no signs of getting smarter with respect to our land use or our building codes or the myriad other steps we could take to reduce losses…not just dollars but death and suffering. Let me emphasize. I’m not saying extremes are increasing…only our vulnerability to those extremes. I’m making no claim about any contribution of climate variability one way or the other; the loss figures include earthquakes, for example. And the commercial aviation story suggests we could do better.

    • David Springer

      Got a link to Munich Reinsurance study?

      Kind of tough to argue with data that isn’t put on the table for critique.

    • Hi Bill

      I was involved withn the UK Environment agency for a time and also had a very old house next to a river so can comment on damage related to flooding/subsidence.

      * I would observe that in the past, people were more stoical about flood damage-for example they accepted it as a matter of course and would put tiles on the floor, put electrical connections above flood height

      *Also of course far fewer people were insured in the first place or had much of value that needed insuring. I’m not sure GDP figures mean that much. Electrical items and furniture for example have come down in price relatively speaking and houses have far more material goods.

      * Many more houses are built in ‘desirable’ places which tends to be near water, on floodplains or areas susceptible to once in a decade-or more frequent- floods.(these areas often tend to be windier than average.

      *People now are upset if water gets anywhere near their house-they even want it kept away from close by roads. Cosequently they are less stoical, much less accepting of damage and much more likely to claim

      *These flood events go in phases. You can go years without much happening in one area then the climate shifts and flooding/gales occurs. When you buy a house in Floods End or Ford side or Windy Ridge it should be a matter of buyer beware, but naturally those living in unsuitable places will expect to claim on their insurance and may not have lived there long enough to witness previous problems

      * Of course there are many more buildings and many more people than in the past so it would be astounding if Claims weren’t rising.

      So I’m not convinced that insurance claims are any real guide to an increasing trend in climate variability, which of course you point out in your post but often gets ignored when the MSM write about such things

      • Out of curiosity, tony –

        Somewhat off-topic from your comment, but do you have any ideas going forward about how to affect positive change in the aspects of the problem you describe?

        As I see it, people will continue to want to live in those locations, builders will continue to build houses in those locations, and people will continue to purchase those houses. Voters will continue to elect representatives who will be expected to provide relief to people who incur hardship as the result of severe weather. Government will try to enact some regulation – but political opposition to government’s regulatory role will limit the amount of regulation that can be implemented.

        Given that folks are not likely to suddenly become more stoic, do you see anything significant changing going forward?

      • Joshua, you write “Given that folks are not likely to suddenly become more stoic, do you see anything significant changing going forward?”

        For once Joshua, you and I are in complete agreement. No, there will be little or no change in the future. As I say, this problem has been around for decades or centuries. People dont change and they will always want to live in places which are subject to disasters, be it floods, earthquakes, fires etc. The science is well known and well established. The solutions are all political; involving very subjective cost/benefit analysis. One of the problems is the less likely the disaster, the higher the cost. It is disasters at the 15 SD level that cause most of the major problems. And the trouble is that the expected value for any type of disaster eventually approaches unity.

      • Joshua

        There is huge pressure in this country on prime -and often marginally ‘safe’-land caused by rising prosperity and a burgeoning population. Everyone wants to live next to the sea or a river.

        For several decades the Environment agency has sought powers to refuse planning permission in vulnerable areas (such as flood plains) which of course then need to be protected at public expense. The Planning authorities are under pressure generally to provide homes and also under pressure by developers, who make a contribution to infrastructure and provide jobs and of course will make a nice profit from a desirable development. They are often a lot smarter than the planners and exploit loopholes.

        I live near the coast but at an elevation of 60 feet so really like the idea of restricting coastal/flood plain development as it would push up the price of my property. :)

        That is being selfish of course, but there is a practical side to this in as much all the most secure and safe places have long been taken, so new building either has to take place on existing plots or on new land that almost by definition is going to be vulnerable.

        Also don’t forget that a flood defence on new properties can push the problem on to those who didnt previously have a problem. As the public purse can only erect a limited amount of flood defences I would argue that people already living in vulnerable places should probably get priority over those choosing to move to such a place now in new developments.

        That infers that legislation needs to be enforced so development would then be pushed to less vulnerable but arguably less ‘desirable’ places, but that latter factor might perhaps be mitigated by better design (and cheaper property)

        So legislsation, design and pricing will all be factors

      • Tony, you write “That infers that legislation needs to be enforced so development would then be pushed to less vulnerable but arguably less ‘desirable’ places”

        In principle you are right; in practice things dont go that way. The classic example is the Good Friday earthquake at Anchorage Alaska, in 1964. This devastated a prime piece of real estate with expensive houses on it called Turnagain Park. It was where James Cook on his 3rd expedition was looking for the Northwest Passage, and sailed up the Yukon River. This was the place where he turned around. The city did as you suggest, expropiated the land, and turned it in to a park, so that this sort of disaster would never happen again. This lasted for precisely 17 years. The people with money wanted to build houses on this very desirable site, and the city was losing a lot of taxation revenue with no houses on the site. The laws were reversed, and the houses were built again.

        I used to work for Emergency Planning Canada, and there are dozens of similar examples of this type of thing happening.

      • Joshua, Tony: similar to my Brisbane experience, the lessons of the massive 1974 floods were conveniently forgotten to allow building on flood-prone land, the 2011 floods related to a post-74 dam intended for flood prevention/mitigation where, when it was demonstrated to be inadequate, the authorities chose the cheap/limited benefit modification option, as a result of which water had to be released at a lower level than pre-modification to lower the risk of catastrophic dam collapse (which studies have suggested would lead to tens of thousands of deaths.)

        Amazingly, in response to floods on known flood-prone land. state and local governments sometimes buy the risk-taking owners now unsaleable properties. Moral hazard indeed.

      • Good comments about how authorities can ‘forget’ the reason land was protected and succumb to developers after a generation. We have in our area several legal covenants overturned supposed to protect parkland.

        Probably there needs to be some higher level of deterrent to building in vulnerable areas that reflects the importance of the land and risk to the community which would mesh together environmental, health and safety and protected landscapes status

      • This is why adaptation, local corruption, is such a great idea. We need to weaken the federal government and send it all back to local corruption.

        And lucky day, there is even a candidate for whom we can vote who wants to do just that.

      • JCH, “This is why adaptation, local corruption, is such a great idea. We need to weaken the federal government and send it all back to local corruption.”

        NIMBY corruption is better than IMBY corruption. Kinda out of sight out of mind :)

      • Here’s a solution:
        Cheaper than standard construction, and extremely robust.

      • Tony there is plenty of good building land in the UK. It is called Green Belt. But we live in a country where the interests of trees and badgers and bats come ahead of providing affordable housing to ‘human beings’ – truly the scourge of the earth.

      • Actually, we live in a country where the Conservative half of the coalition government is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the construction industry. We live in a country where the government has been persuaded by its sponsors that a huge house and road building program is a viable ‘policy’ to ‘stimulate economic growth’ in the wake of the destruction wrought by an under-regulated investment banking sector.

      • Dolphinlegs

        On the whole Green Belt has contained urban sprawl which is pretty necessary in a small country like ours otherwise it would become one large housing estate interspersed with B&Q outlets and Tesco’s

        I agree with you about Badgers though, here in the Sout West they are a huge problem. It seems it is ok to kill 26000 cattle a year who might get TB in order to save 3000 badgers. Perhaps one looks more appealing than the other?


      • BBD

        I think the ‘build your way out of trouble’ policy is madness and will result in much despoiling of town and country. I understand there are alteady hundreds of thousands of housing plots with planning permission but there is no abilty of people to buy them because of the ‘destruction wrought by the investment baning sector.’

        If the past is anything to go by a great proportion of the jobs will not go to British workers anyway and much of the materials will be imported so the net benefit is debatable.

        I am a little more positive on road building schemes (but not all of them) Here in the Torquay area we have had huge problems because of lack of a bypass. It is now being built. I used to live near Newbury and the Winchester and Newbury bypass -whilst necesary-were very badly thought through.


      • climatereason/tonyb

        I’m not qualified to discuss the badger cull, but what I read in the papers suggests that you are probably correct. Nor are all roads bad; I live in the Winchester area, and have first-hand experience of both by-passes.

        I’m responding because I agree with you and it’s always pleasant to find agreement. I’m also doing so because I disagree strongly with the implicit characterisation set up by Dolphinlegs, namely that ‘all environmentalists are anti-humanitarian loons’.

      • BBD

        I was very relieved when the Winchester by pass was built but horrified at the great gouge they made thereby exposing the chalk. I’m inclined to think we should use more tunnels in sensitive areas and also plan for the future, which might mean spending a little more money in order to protect the environment and also reduce disruption to local communities.

        We warned the authorities that the Newbury bypass was severely flawed due to its lack of integration with the A34 and M4. Sure enough it was built and access became very problematic and resulted in giant queues. It was sorted out after ten years at vast cost and disruption.

        Similarly our Torquay bypass will go from two lanes to one as it goes over a flyover. A few million pounds will be saved but the bypass seems fatally compromised. We shall see in three years when it open. Its one of those times when I hope I’m wrong…

        All the best

      • TonyB says:
        Similarly our Torquay bypass will go from two lanes to one as it goes over a flyover.
        It was designed with a particular car driver in mind

  7. One additional comment…Judith you speak of other countries. It seems to me that the NTSB analog holds an opportunity here as well. The NTSB and its approach to identification of causes for airline crashes and near misses (and other transportation-related accidents, including rail and highway, and even extending to fossil-fuel pipelines has such an international reputation that it is often called for consultation abroad.

    Climate Etc. readers might also be interested in an ICSU-sponsored program, Integrated Research on Disaster Risk, which operates out of an office in Beijing, and which includes a research program to do precisely this kind of NTSB analysis. The program, called FORIN (for forensic investigations), is described in more detail here: http://www.irdrinternational.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/FORIN-REPORT_web.pdf
    It deserves support from the scientific community.

  8. The value of improving resilience can best be estimated for “normal disasters”, i.e. those for which well defined statistics can be collected. For them it’s possible to estimate fairly well both costs and expected benefits of proposed actions.

    The issue becomes much more difficult when we consider exceptional disasters like Katrina and also Sandy in my view. By exceptional I refer to the extent and nature of the damage, not to the strength of the storm. Earthquakes and Tsunamis are in respect more difficult than even worst weather events.

    There are some possibilities of improving resilience in a generic way to reduce the damage also in situations that are not explicitly taken into account in planning.

  9. Here’s a link to the Munich Re figure that a lot of people use: http://www.munichre.com/app_pages/www/@res/pdf/NatCatService/great_natural_catastrophes/NatCatSERVICE_Great_1950_2011_losses_en.pdf
    the backstory is more difficult to access. Sites like this give the flavor: http://www.munichre.com/en/reinsurance/business/non-life/georisks/natcatservice/great_natural_catastrophes.aspx
    I’ve heard talks given by folks who’ve worked there; again not sufficient if you want to get into the weeds. For my purposes, what’s striking is the contrast between this curve and a similar curve for the same period for aviation accidents, which you can find here: http://www.boeing.com/news/techissues/pdf/statsum.pdf. Look at figure (or page?) 20, which shows the fatalities rate holding constant despite significant year-on-year increases in air traffic.

    • David Springer

      One problem with the Munich Re study is that publishing and peer review are by Munich Re. They’re up front about it not being peer reviewed. I probably won’t get a chance to look further until later today.

      How do you think the precipitous decline in death rate caused by extreme weather should be priced in? It’s crass but we need to attach a monetary value to a human life. Or does Munich Re factor in such metrics as lost income, life insurance payouts, and things of that nature that aren’t strictly near term financial damage to a structure?

      I also note that the study says total economic loss is twice the insurance payouts or about a trillion $ from 1980-2011. Do you happen to know what the other half of the costs are and how they were measured?

    • Willis Eschenbach

      Bill, I gotta confess, I was on your side and cheering for your ideas until you started in with this Munich Re bilgewater. Munich Re is an organization whose sales depend on fear of the future—if you don’t fear the possible fire/flood/burglary etc., you don’t buy insurance.

      As a result, it is GREATLY IN MUNICH RE’S INTEREST TO EXAGGERATE THE DANGERS. Scary predictions sell insurance … but only fools would believe those frightening claims were real scientific data.

      And for you to baldly quote their figures without even acknowledging their extreme, giant, huge conflict of interest? That, I’m sad to say, is nothing but shabby advocacy.

      Go look at Indur Goklany work, or Roger Pielke’s work, before you continue making a fool of yourself with further puerile unsustainable claims about losses and extreme events. Even the IPCC says there has been no increase in extreme weather events … and yet despite that, despite what the scientists say, you ally yourself with insurance agents as your source of data? Really? Insurance agents?

      Sorry, my friend, but that just gets you laughed at by anyone following the story. Come back if you can find real data that supports your claims. Otherwise, it goes in the circular file as simply more unsupported alarmisim …

      Finally, you say:

      Let me emphasize. I’m not saying extremes are increasing…only our vulnerability to those extremes.

      and you also say:

      … rapidly expanding losses we are seeing in the U.S. and world wide from weather disasters …

      I’m not clear what your point is here. As far as I know, the amount of stuff that we’ve placed in the path of various catastrophes keeps increasing. So that means that our losses will increase, no surprise there, although you can be sure that Munich Re will hype it to the max.

      But that doesn’t mean that we are more vulnerable to extreme weather as you say, just that we’ve left more goods out in the rain.

      As far as I know, as a percentage of the items or the lives in harms way, the death toll is steadily dropping, and I find no indication that the losses of goods are “rapidly expanding”.

      So I don’t get your point. Likely my fault, but given that losses of life are declining, and losses of goods are either stable or declining (as a percentage of at-risk lives and goods), I just don’t see the size or urgency of the problem you seem to be pointing at.


      • Willis Eschenbach

        Bill, as an example of the type of BS that the Munich Re guys throw out, look at their listing of weather related disasters. Note that the number of disasters was high from about 1985-2000, and has been steadily dropping since then.

        However, despite the number of disasters steadily dropping since the 1990s, Munich Re fits a line to the whole dataset, so that they can meretriciously claim that the numbers are increasing when they are not.

        But that’s not unscientific enough for Munich Re, so they actually CURVE THE LINE UPWARDS to give the totally false impression that the number of disasters is not just increasing, it is accelerating.

        And that, Bill, is the cherry on the top of a pile of stinking nonsense. Weather/climate related disasters are not accelerating as they claim, they are not even increasing. Weather related disasters have fallen over the last decade, and Munich Re is doing all that they can to scare people and make them forget what’s actually happening.

        And sadly, Bill, in your case, they seem to have succeeded …


      • If Munich Re is not to be trusted then why why should we trust Goklany’s analysis published by an organization that cannot be considered an uninterested party either.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Because Munich Re makes money if they can instill fear in the populace, so they have a huge conflict of interest, and Goklany’s organization doesn’t have such a conflict … but then you knew that, or you sure should have.


        PS—Since Goklany is the Assistant Director of Programs, Science and Technology Policy with the US Department of the Interior, I don’t understand your characterization of his employment.

      • I referred to the publisher of the paper. Think tank type nonprofit organizations are often selective on what they publish and may also influence in many ways the selection of content in the papers.

        I’m not saying that Munich Re’s interests would not be more obvious, but I noticed earlier that also lack of peer review was used against its material. Has the Goklany paper been subject of peer review?

        The Goklany paper may be perfect but I do still think that we have no obvious way to conclude that it’s impartial.

      • Willis Eschenbach

        Thanks, Pekka. You are right that regarding the Goklany paper we have no obvious way to conclude that it’s impartial.

        This is quite different from the situation with Munich Re, where we have lots of obvious ways to conclude that their work is not impartial … I note that you have not commented, for example, on their bogus line showing an acceleration of weather events …

        So rather than making a “tu quoque” argument regarding Indur, how about you deal first with the obvious problems with the foundation of Munich Re sand upon which Bill Hooke has built his work … because after all, it is Bill and his work that is the focus in this thread, not Indur. So Pekka … how do you feel about the use of the Munich Re bogus claims?


      • Pekka

        You ask

        Has the Goklany paper been subject of peer review?

        Was the Mann et al. “hockey stick”?

        {What good did it do?)


      • Yes, FWIW, because peer review does not guarantee “truth”, Goklany’s work has been peer reviewed. The peer reviewed version is available at: http://www.jpands.org/vol14no4/goklany.pdf.

        If you don’t trust the results, you can go to the sources which are explicitly listed and reproduce them. Based on these you indeed have a way to conclude whether his results are “impartial”. Go at it — what’s stopping you?

      • Indur, dherai danyabad.

      • This is becoming a standard whine: the insurance industry is padding their numbers to sell insurance. So, all those actuarial tables and statistics are part of another giant hoax? Is all you have to offer innuendo and misdirection?

        Maybe you should let their shareholders in on your little secret? http://www.boerse-frankfurt.de/en/equities/muenchener+rueck+ag+ag+DE0008430026

      • And how come they only pad the numbers with climate and weather effects and there’s no corresponding increase in costs/numbers of geological effects (earthquakes, volcanos, tsunamis, etc)?

      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        Willis, I remember that in Ontario Canada ( 1990’s), the auto insurers wanted to raise rates on people who had not had an accident in 7 years or more because they were statistically “due”.

      • David Springer

        The conflict of interest is pretty obvious and I already pointed it out. Munich Re in the first paragraph of their press release about the study explicitely states it was not peer reviewed. Rather than belabor the obvious that Munich Re has a financial interest in sexing up the economic peril of extreme weather to sell more insurance try pointing out how the results are actually biased. For instance I pointed out that of the $500bn in US extreme weather insurance claims 1980-2011 $60bn of that was from one single event out of thousands (Hurricane Katrina). No objective study would include that as its obviously an outlier.

  10. Growing up on the shores of Lake Erie a long long time ago, there were sand dunes that held the storms at bay for thousands of years. First one, then another, and pretty soon many many cottages, lake front homes were built. First a foot path, then a track large enough to pull a boat, soon a trench down to the water’s edge.

    Today, the cottages and houses perched upon the sand dunes have long succumbed to the winter storms, falling into the eroded beaches as so many matchboxes.

    Efforts to thwart the pounding waters with concrete and steel, rocks and rebuilding dunes have failed. What has transpired on Lake Erie I have seen along the non-rock ocean coasts, from Miami Beach to Cape Ann Massachusetts; from the Baja peninsula to Vancouver. Destruction of the dunes, whether intentionally or accidentally tell the same story: erosion and property loss follows.

    Declaring large swaths of both ocean coasts, Gulf coast as National Sea Shore; hardening and maintaining infrastructure which needs water access would make a lot of real estate people unhappy; township supervisors unhappy seeing their loss of property tax income collapse; local banks see their wealthiest and most credit worth people move away, and of course they all vote regularly, so that ain’t gonna ta happen.

    What will make people move, is to price FEMA insurance appropriate to the risk. That means that a lot of people, widows and orphans, will see the cost of staying where they have lived for decades, the value of the homes they expected to pass on to their children’s children get gobbled up by the cost of coastal insurance. Then only Al Gore can afford coastal property. $12 million mansion gets washed away one night? Just take it as an income tax deduction. No worries.

    You want to envision what USA coasts will look like in 2100? National Seashore. Go visit, park behind the sand dune some distance away. Take the shuttle to the drop off shelter. Walk over the dune on the built walkway. Enjoy the beach, the water, the sun, the smell of the ocean, the wind and the view…a limitless horizon. We all own the sea shore.

    • David Springer

      Yeah I hear ya about ocean front property being subsidized by insurance premiums paid by non-ocean front payers. In a fair world it would demand equitable adjustment. I don’t have a problem with it when it comes to health insurance except perhaps people who voluntarily participate in high risk activties (whether it’s too much Texas BBQ or too much hang gliding) probably ought to pay a fair premium for their risky choices.

      • There are many kinds of disasters. Hurricanes, tornados, forest fires, California fires, earthquakes, floods and this list can go on and on. If we want the people to not live in harm’s way in one of these situations, we should not want people to live in any of these situations and we don’t know what is coming next. Humans are successful as a result of risks we take. It is difficult for large populations to make a good living in a place that has little risk. We want help when we need it and we need to help others when they need it. We can and should promote development that costs less when trouble comes. David pointed out that the disasters costs compared to GDP have decreased. Compare the 1900 hurricane in Galveston to Ike.

    • Shoreline erosion is a natural part of nature. Shoreline expansion is a natural part of nature. It happens with and/or without man. Sometimes man speeds it up and sometimes man slows it down. Man has always lived on the edge and man will likely always live on the edge. There were a lot of happy days spent in those cottages on the edge. I have spent some happy times on the shores of Lake Erie. I suspect there are more happy memories than there are regrets.

    • Steven Mosher

      “What will make people move, is to price FEMA insurance appropriate to the risk.”


  11. One bright note in the “Sandy”-related bad news. Namely, a substantial portion of those beautiful, eco-righteous people, living in Manhattan, who are such ferocious advocates of carbon-austerity for the “little guy”, are now enjoying, first-hand, the low-carbon life-style they wish to visit on us peons.

    Curiously, rather than celebrating their low-carbon situation, our environmentally-conscious Philosopher Kings and Queens don’t seem to be relishing their reduced-CO2 existence, especially at night when the looters are out, and wish to return to their “old ways” that are sure to lead to a planetary, CAGW disaster.

    I guess that’s what Chris Matthews was talking about when he referred to “Pigs” the other day.

    Otherwise, like most everyone else, my heart goes out to those whose lives have been so profoundly affected and disrupted by the loss of potable water, access to transportation, and electricity and, even, in some cases their homes and the lives of their loved ones. And I fervently wish them a speedy recovery–the malicious, carbon worry-warts be damned!

    • Good old mike – finding pleasure in others tragedy…..when he can project views upon them that he doesn’t approve of.

      Piece of work, huh?

      • Michael,

        The truth hurts doesn’t it? And, oh by the way, I expressed no pleasure in the misery of others, but rather rejoiced that those who advocate the low-carbon life-style can now, in much of Manhattan, live out their dreams. What could possible be my fault there?–show me my guilt, Michael!

        Of course, for those who don’t buy into the CAGW scam, that low-life hustlers like you promote, Michael, I expressed, above, my sincerest sympathy and wishes for a return to the good-life that carbon provides us all.

        And I also continue to do my level best to expose and counter the misanthropic schemes and make-a-buck/make-a-gulag intrigues of your ilk, Michael, who would plunge all of mankind into a lower-Manhattan, black-out, “Great Leap Forward” cull-extravaganza, if you could.

        In other words, Michael, I’m the good guy in this. And you, and the other greenshirts like you, trying to leverage this storm into a “big-push” on the lefty-collectivist front are the dork-pit, nightmare “baddies” from the low-carbon, sloughs of hell!

      • OK – no pleasure, just rejoicing.

        Stick with the angry old-man schtick – it’s working for you!

      • Michael,

        Almost got it, guy. But please note my “rejoicing” is for those who “rejoice” in the low-carbon life-style themselves (at least, as a good idea for others) and no one else. And why not?–such folks are living their low-carbon lifestyle utopian-dream. For the rest of humanity, much of it mired in a crushing, low-carbon misery, I don’t “rejoice” in their low-carbon sufferings, at all, but rather advocate a carbon bail-out. And I include those Manhattanites who are looking for a CO2-spew helping-hand at the moment.

        That’s the difference between you and me, Michael.

    • Stay classy Mike, stay classy

      • Josh,

        Look, Josh, I realize their are two “classes” of humanity in the hive’s world-view. There are, of course, the “Beautiful People” whom the hive employs and who are generally exempt (and expect to be) from the consequences of their conditioned-reflex, brave-new-world-centric, chit-chat and occasional usefulness to this, that, and another make-a-buck/make-a-gulag lefty scam. And then there are the expendable, cull-fodder Morlocks–us “little guys”–that the lefties interminably target with their rip-offs and their reduced life-style, power-and-control big-plans.

        And I also know that control of the natural disaster “narrative” is a class privilege of my greenshirt betters and that my previous comment challenges the left’s privilege in this area, and is, therefore, not “classy.”

        You know, Josh, in pursuit of the hive’s agenda every natural disaster for the last 25 years has been impressed into the sob-story, scare-mongering service of the CAGW con. But should I point out that we are seeing, in lower Manhattan, as we speak, what the low-carbon lifestyle looks like then I’m tagged with “crossing” that self-serving “line”, carefully drawn and nurtured by decades of propaganda (with the captive-audience kids in school especially singled out for the most intensive indoctrination) to the agit-prop advantage of my eco-flake wannabe-masters. And I’m probably also now classifiable as one of Chris Matthew’s “Pigs” to boot (bet ol’ Chris managed a few “Baby Killers!” in his youth too–maybe still does). Oh woe is me!

        Having said all that, Josh, I’m glad to hear you’ve survived Sandy with minimum loss and my sympathies to your mother-in-law for the damage to her home and my wish for her quick recovery from her misfortune.

      • Mike –

        I know that Glenn Beck’s rhetoric is not an accurate reflection of the character of a significant % of Americans – I would hope that you realize that pontificating about millions of Americans based on a decontextualized snipped of Chris Matthews’ rhetoric is no more valid. I have lived with and worked among people of all sorts of SES status. And based on my experience, you are creating caricatures as if they are reflective of any significant amount of real people when in fact, they don’t. Life and people are far more complex than what you describe in your diatribes. I get that you think it’s fun to create those polemics – you clearly enjoy the creative component of doing so, but all I can say is that I am guessing that you understand how unrealistic they are – and at least I certainly hope that you do.

      • Not sure it can be so easily divided into “left” and “right”, I’m a pure socialist and “if men be angels” anarchist, and I have no connection with the branch of environmentalism that proposes such things as carbon taxes.

        Stewardship of the planet? I can get behind that, we’re all hurtling through the universe in the same skin of habitable conditions wrapped around a tiny little rock, it’s a good idea to take that into consideration.

        Demonizing CO2 in an attempt to push for some sort of globally taxable currency/government system? Yeah, that’s not a “left” vs “right” issue, presenting it as though it is such a simple dichotomy does us all a disservice. Carlin was right, there’s a big exclusive club, but you and I aren’t in it.

        Fighting over arbitrary differences regarding an imaginary threat doesn’t help either of us, does it?

      • Josh,

        I’m sure being compared to “Glenn Beck” is, in your circles, Josh, the “kiss of death” and ensures the hapless, “unclassy” Joe-Six-Pack, so-tagged, is sure to never again receive an invitation to the parties of the best and brightest (the horror!). But, as you can imagine, since I’m a congenital, useless-eater helot, despised by my betters anyway, I did not fall out of my chair when I saw the words “Glenn Beck” in your last comment–good thing at my age what with brittle bones and all.


        All good points and noted. My view is that the CAGW hustle features a “strange-bedfellow” alliance of lefties (more precisely authoritarian collectivists), make-a-buck opportunists, and parasites attracted to a free-lunch gravy-train. Though that lash-up, pretend good-buddy alliance won’t survive should the “revolution” ever actually succeed–the aftermath of which will feature a back-stabbing frenzy of fall-out power-plays such as the world has never seen.

      • Josh,

        Upon further reflection let me also acknowledge and note that you also made some good points.

      • Mike –

        You seem to be clasping, rather desperately, onto fantasies. Playing around with fantasies is fun (ask my partner), but when you confuse them with reality you run into problems. No one thinks that Glenn Beck is Joe Six-Pack. This is the type of error in judgement that gets compounded in your schtick – and in the end it only retards progress through dialog.

        Let me provide an example of what I’m talking about:There is a point to be made about the oversight contained within certain fairly broad and fairly common ideology. For example, there is an interesting argument to be made about how much voice, wealthy New Yorkers with second homes in fracking areas of NY state or upstate PA, should have in the determination of policies that affect the long-time, relatively poor residents of those communities who stand to gain from selling drilling rights. That battle overlaps with cultural stereotypes that are not irrelevant. But if you reduce the discussion to long insult and hypen filled diatribes, you will get nowhere – and in the process you will marginalize the voices of those long time local residents who are concerned about the environmental impact of fracking, and who in my state, are having leverage as stakeholders being systematically undermined by “conservatives” such as my Governor, Corbett.

        Play the ball, Mike, not the man.

      • FWIW –

        There is a point to be made about the oversight contained within certain fairly broad and fairly common ideology.

        Even I hard a hard time trying to figure out what I meant by that when I re-read it. By oversight, I meant in the sense of what people fail to see – not supervision. Hope that helps!

      • Josh,

        Yr: Play the ball, Mike, not the man.”


        I don’t play either the man or the ball, Josh. I play “the hive”, “the team”, and “the crusher crew” and their Che-wannabe, bad-faith, agenda-addled, litigious, double-standard, whiteboy-phobic, do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do, gravy-train-taxpayer-rip-off, play-the-victim, play-the-disinterested-truth-seeking-Philosopher-King-smarty-pants, high-cabon-perks-for-me-but-not-for-you, scare-mongering, booger-eating “guerilla wars”–climate so-called “science” variety.

        They throw in the towel and start acting like real human beings and I’ll start treating them like real human beings instead of insectoid hive-bozos. And, sorry, Josh, but the only caricatures of the hive and its affiliates I push are their own, larger-than-life, creep-out self-caricatures that I merely observe and objectively report.

      • Mike –

        One thing I know for sure – as ye sow, so shall ye reap:


      • Mike, help me out, did you at one time on another topic awhile ago make a comment to a fellow blogger about his lack of substance in his reply and ended with ” one dead booger flick after another, and you flick boogers like a girl” ????

      • Kent,

        My powers of recall have declined precipitously, lately, but I do vaguely remember a phrase or two along the lines you mentioned. I think it was the concluding line of one of my more carefully wrought, highly intellectual, doing-my-part-to-build-bridges, civil-to-a-fault comments in which I pointed out, in some constructive detail, just why I found my “fellow blogger’s” comments to be lacking in wit, originality, interest and/or panache, and it went something like “…just one brain-dead booger-flick after another. And, oh by the way, you flick your boogers like a girl!”

        I might add (“things” are coming back a bit now), the “fellow blogger” I addressed in that comment was an ol’ and especially noxious and obnoxious pal from my days on the Deltoid blog. As I recall, he showed up here at Climate etc. for just one thread and tried to come on like gang-busters, but that didn’t work out so well for him (I can’t even remember the weirdo’s name now, but I’d remember it if I saw it again).

        But anyway, the guy was your typical cretinous, Deltoid, hive-bozo leg-humper so sheltered and protected by that blog’s grotesquely biased moderators that the softy, little, “me-too”, geek-ball, party-line ZitTwit-toid apparently had a panic attack when it belatedly dawned on him that Climate etc. is a lightly moderated blog and that he was going to have to fend for himself on his own, and all, and that, in turn, apparently prompted his hasty and seemingly permanent departure from this blog.

        But to give you the flavor of Deltoid’s obscene bias I’ll give you an example of a comment of mine that got “binned” (that’s how the weird-toids in Deltoid-land talk, incidentally). I was engaged with another of my favorite Deltoids–one noted for a big-honker, pathological, compulsive/obsessive, credentials-flashing disorder affliction–in a discussion about modern threats to bio-diversity and I helpfully sounded a hopeful note that went something like: “You know, Jeff, the only real threat to bio-diversity on this planet is that you flatulent, vegan, room-clearing, stink-bomb enviro-weenies might actually discover soap-and-water some day–I mean, like, peer-reviewed studies have proven that the noisome arm-pit of your average, hygiene-phobic, lefty eco-flake has a more bio-diverse fauna and flora than the whole of the Amazon River Basin!”

        I mean, like, that above comment didn’t even last 5 minutes before the moderator snuffed it out of existence–can you believe it?!!! Like I said, Deltoid’s moderation is a complete, dorks-in-the-driver-seat, greenshirt-bias, horror story!

      • Kent,

        That should be, of course “…I’d recognize it if i saw it again.”

      • Kent,

        Hey! you know that comment up above of mine in the part where I was talkin’ to Jeff over at Deltoid about smelly, lefty arm-pits and all? Well, I just remembered that after “…Amazon River Basin.” I added “And don’t get me started on greenshirt pubes, Jeff!”

        And it just occurred to me that it was probably that last line that drew upon my poor comment the Deltoid moderator’s lethal wrath. I mean, like, the Deltoids are, you know, like, a, shall-we-say, “prudish” bunch of hive-suckers for all their nastiness otherwise.

    • David Springer

      +1 for Mike

      -1 for Michael

  12. Judith Curry

    “Learning lessons from Sandy”, i.e. getting prepared for any extreme weather events nature throws at us is good policy, and a lot of good work has been done and is being done in this regard.

    That’s where “climate science” should be doing more – rather than myopically chasing the CO2 will o’ the wisp.

    But are there REALLY “rapidly expanding losses …in the U.S. and world wide from weather disasters”

    If we are talking material losses, the question would be whether or not these are calculated as a % of GDP or are adjusted for inflation or overall population size.

    But more important, of course, are losses of human life.

    A study by Indur Goklany shows that these have declined significantly rather than expanded, despite all the “CAGW” ballyhoo.


    • David Springer

      I linked to the same study by Indur in the first few comments.


      The decline in per capita death rate from extreme weather is, without exaggerating, precipitous. Let’s call it a War on Extreme Weather. When we talk about the cost of wars in the US we never discount the lives lost but we don’t put a dollar amount on them either. The common phrase is we a pay price in “blood and treasure”. Cold calculated tradeoffs between the two must be made by the decision makers.

      For instance, the cost of war for the US has gone down a lot in terms of blood but the dollar cost in technology to limit the loss of blood has increased a lot. The same thing may have happened in the war on extreme weather.

  13. I think it is interesting to note what I suspect might be a dilemma for many of those who advocate adaptation over mitigation (a paradigm I think is basically a false dichotomy). They often argue that mitigation is logistically unrealistic and would require a “statist” mentality – which they find ideologically and morally abhorrent. Yet it seems to me that adaptation faces essentially the same obstacles. Without a centralized, state-oriented approach, adaptation will not happen at a level significantly different than what we have already seen. It is easy to say we should adapt – but as with mitigation, in reality adaptation is incredibly complex. This situation reminds me of those who promote nuclear energy but refuse to deal with the political and economic realities of what would be required to expand nuclear power: centralized planning and state funding.

    And while I am always reluctant to identify large-scale societal trends, it is my impression that our ability to collectively address these kinds of problems is in decline – as reflected generally in the deterioration of our economic and material infrastructure.

    We are fortunate in this country (as are many in other countries) that we can enjoy the benefits of a society that seeks to balance collective with individual benefit – but in the end, unless combatants start being less interested in demonizing those that disagree with them (not likely to happen), and instead become more focused on working towards solutions, I predict there will be no “adaptation” on any scale any larger than what we’ve already seen. Basically, the same obstacles that block mitigation block adaptation. Arguing about the relative merits of either approach – as if they stand in opposition to each other – fails to address the real roadblock: all these sorts of issues become politicized and exploited by partisans who are actually focused on winning battles as opposed to solving problems.

    • “They often argue that mitigation is logistically unrealistic and would require a “statist” mentality – ” Generality versus reality. Some mitigation could be successful some not. A realist looks at each item, a generalist or idealist isn’t concerned with the nuts and bolts just the “concept”.

      “which they find ideologically and morally abhorrent.” Yes, realists find ideology that does not fully consider the nuts and bolts morally repugnant if that is your choice of words, or Friggin’ stupid if you were a realist..

      • I think his point could be summed up thusly: we’re on the same side here, whether it looks that way or not, we are all alive at the same time on the same ball of rock, so it is worth while to ask: “who is served by us fighting amongst ourselves?”, rather than giving into spin and propaganda.

    • People choose to live in Earthquake Zones and now many building codes require adaptation. No sane person tries to prevent earthquakes by riding a bike instead of using their cars.

      Sane people should not try and change ENSO or the PDO or the AMO by riding bikes and forbidding people from flying in airplanes (with the usual exceptions made for celebrity jet owners and green cult leaders).

      Adapt. Quit squandering trillions on the AGW con.

    • David Springer

      The thing about adaptation is you pay for what you actually need as you need it. Mitigation might actually worsen things not make them better. There is at least some chance, if not a good chance, that climate will get colder not warmer and then mitigation costs have only gone to make adaptation cost even higher becaue mitigation went the wrong way i.e. worse than useless. The law of unintended consequences has not been kind to the environmentalist whackos. Let’s say CAGW is real for a moment. I’m inclined to lay the blame on environmentalists in the 1960’s and 1970’s for there not being a far larger percentage of energy in the US being generated by nuclear plants. And if we were still burning our coal without filtering out the sulfates it would counter the CO2 as Hansen suspects is happening with the hugely steep rise of dirty coal burning in China. Who’s responsible for filtering out sulfates? The greenies of course. Are you old enough to remember the fake Acid Rain scare that was more or less concommitant with the protests against nuclear power? Unintended consequences is almost like a Murphy’s Law of eco-loon initiatives.

      • The thing about adaptation is you pay for what you actually need as you need it. Mitigation might actually worsen things not make them better.

        There is no explanation for this logic other than confirmation bias. Certainly, we can both come up with examples of adaptation that “might actually worsen things not make them better.”

        As we saw with your analysis over the outcomes of people quitting smoking, your consideration of unintended consequences is entirely one-sided. Arguing that the unintended consequences from quitting smoking are anywhere near the scale, let alone grater than, the unintended consequences of continuing to smoke serve as probably the best example of a binary mentality when arguing about unintended consequences that I can think of.

        My suggestion is that you stop trying to ram your political anger into the bag of climate change. If you do so, you will make fewer Mt. Everes-sized leaps of logic.

      • Joshua

        Adaptation to whatever climate changes and extreme weather events Nature throws at us if and when these seem imminent is common sense.

        Mitigation of human GHG emissions in the futile attempt to change our planet’s climate is chasing after an imaginary hobgoblin.

        Frame it any way you like, but that’s the basic difference between the two.


      • Smokey (biofuels only) The AGW Bear Says:

        Only YOU can prevent ENSO.

      • David Springer

        One sidedness is entirely yours. I didn’t say there were no downsides to smoking. I said there were downsides to quitting smoking as well. One of those is weight gain and then I speculated that it’s probably no coincidence that as tobacco smoking has plummeted in the US obesity has skyrocketed. Don’t shoot the messenger.

        Another downside is the cost of Medicare. A cigarette smoker ostensibly lives about ten fewer years than a non-smoker, everything else being equal. The average lifespan of a man in the US is about 75 years. Medicare becomes available at age 65.5. The typical male smoker would then die about 6 months before becoming eligible for Medicare. It doesn’t matter what he dies of what matters is that if he isn’t old enough for Medicare and not poor enough for Medicaid then he is not adding any burden to the public health system. The non-smoker is still going to die, as everyone must, but is far more likely to have Medicare payments made in his behalf. Undoubtedly this has contributed to the explosive rise in Medicare cost. People are living longer and fewer people smoking tobacco is a big factor in living longer. If you deny this you’re either stupid or dishonest. You don’t really seem all that stupid so…

      • David,

        Your smoking theories are totally at odds with the facts. You’re wrong in so many ways it beggars belief.

        Cessation of smoking causing obesity? – it’s not even a co-incidence, Correlation is poor……and it clearly can’t explain the rise childhood in obesity.

        Smoking and Medicare – also wrong. Sadly for your argument, LE in the US is above 75, even for men. And a significant cost associated with smoking is premature death and disability, that is, loss of productive life years due to disease and death.
        That doesn’t even touch on the issue that it doesn’t matter who pays, or when they pay, increased ill-health is a cost burden.

        The idea that reduced smoking rates has led to a cost burden in health care is, as they say, ‘not even wrong’.

    • Speaking of generalizations versus reality. Someone said that one of the reasons that the US did not ratify Kyoto was that land use mitigation was not going to be included in the US calculations. If the goal were effective mitigation, then any means of successful mitigation would be included. By selectively excluding an effective mitigation method of one particular nation, one might be inclined to think there could be ideological motivation.

    • David Springer

      Joshua | November 1, 2012 at 10:27 am | Reply

      “This situation reminds me of those who promote nuclear energy but refuse to deal with the political and economic realities of what would be required to expand nuclear power: centralized planning and state funding.”


      What’s required to expand nuclear power is less government interference not more. All the nuclear plants in the U.S. are privately owned AFAIK. What happened is the government regulations make them very costly to commission, build, operate, and decommission. So much so that they cannot operate a profit so they are subsidized by the government enough to have some number of them. So the long and the short of it is central planning is ALREADY controlling the size of the nuclear power industry and it would almost certainly be larger and potentially less safe without the central planning.

      • There is a difference between government planning/funding and excessive regulations.

        The US government interferes more and actively enables/assists the nuclear industry less than the other major players in the global nuclear marketplace.

        Reality check: an anarchist is arguing in favor of government involvement in an industry.

      • The Tennessee Valley Authority owns a few nuclear plants, AFAIK that is a federally owned entity.

        Also, I would not like to see a nuclear power industry without government regulation, partially due to personal experience.

    • Adaptation is really easy here.

      1. Dont allow or subsidize rebuilding. Why should we allow or subsidize people rebuilding in areas that are unsafe today and more likely to be more unsafe going forward. dont put money into rat holes.

      Mitigation is global. adaptation is local. They have entirely different obstacles.

      • 1. Dont allow or subsidize rebuilding.

        So – you’re a statist? Government should prevent people from building? And if popular support aligns with subsidizing rebuilding, the government should overrule?

        Mitigation is global. adaptation is local.

        False dichotomy that gets us nowhere. Not only are they not in opposition to each other, there is no hard line of distinction between the two. For example, no global mitigation will take place without local action. Adaptation here is not adaptation anywhere else – and the impact of events where adaptation has not taken place will directly impact us here.

        They have entirely different obstacles.

        Some of the obstacles to each are mutually exclusive, but tribalism – as reflected in creating false dichotomies and viewing adaptation and mitigation in opposition – is the underlying obstacle in the way of of both. Nothing of substance will change if people don’t directly address that underlying problem.

      • steven mosher

        Am I a statist?

        Sorry I dont understand that question.

        I would oppose any federal assistance or subsidized insurance for people who want to rebuild. If push came to shove, yes I would support the government preventing people from building in certain locations. That should not surprise you, Ive said so many many times. perhaps you were chasing squirrels and not paying attention.

        Further, Adaptation is local by definition so you can misuse the term false dichotomy all you want. It doesn’t change the facts.

        Its not just me Joshua who believes that this calls for some simple adaptation:


      • Steven Mosher


        A description “adaptation is local” “mitigation is global” is not a flase dichotomy. It is a description.

        Let me make it clearer for you. By mitigation I mean, global agreements to limit GHGs. By adaptation I mean local actions taken to cope with the effects.

        They are mutually exclusive by definition. We have tried mitigation for over 20 years with no success. My tribe has tried that. I am suggesting that my tribe try something else. Other’s in our tribe are also coming to their senses and admitting that it was foolish to waste so much time and effort on mitigation. get it. Your hobby horse doesnt work in this rodeo

      • Well, let’s just say it isn’t all one or the other.

        There are adaptations, important ones, that aren’t local.

      • Steven Mosher, Joshua, Michael

        have stated a premise, which I have been able to confirm by examining the few specific actionable proposals to change our planet’s future climate, which have been proposed to date.

        None of these results in a perceptible change in our planet’s warming by 2100, all at an exorbitant cost.

        From this I have concluded that

        we are unable to change our planet’s climate, no matter how much money we throw at it

        I hear objections to this statement of fact, but no rebuttals with specific examples to show the statement is incorrect.

        C’mon guys, you can do better than that.

        Or can you?

        Cite just one specific actionable proposal stating how many ppmv CO2 it would reduce by 2100, how much warming it would avoid and how much it would cost to implement plus when it would need to be implemented.

        If you are unable to come up with at least one such specific proposal, then you have provided conclusive evidence to support my premise.


      • That’s actually the case for Fairfield, CT beach homes.

        If they are destroyed for any reason, as you can see here, they can’t be rebuild on Beach Road which is prone to flooding.


      • Steven Mosher

        The biggest obstacle which mitigation faces is that we are unable to change our planet’s climate perceptibly no matter how much money we throw it it.

        Just a fact of life, Mosh.


      • “fact of life” – maybe more an evidence free assertion.

      • Steven Mosher

        that’s a lot of certainty from a skeptic

    • You say: I predict there will be no “adaptation” on any scale any larger than what we’ve already seen.
      Human’s adaptation has been incredible. We have adapted to the polar regions, the tropic regions, deserts, rain forests, low valleys and high mountains. I could go on and on. People live underwater and in space, we have even lived some on the moon.
      Yes, we will not adapt on a larger scale than we have already seen. If we go on the same scale that we have already seen, you ain’t seen nothing yet. We are just getting started.

      • That’s an interesting point. When I think of an adaptive society, I think of nomads who picked up their belongings (of which there were only enough that they could be carried) and moved with the weather; but certainly they’d be more vulnerable to extreme weather than I am even with a basement that takes on water.

        But I think that the point of this discussion is that people are looking at the question of maximizing the benefit from possibly accelerating adaptation.

      • Steven Mosher


        is that what you think? if so, stop thinking that way. educate yourself and it will put you in a better position to identify “motvated reasoning” Until such time you will think that every problem is a nail because you carry a hammer. You need more tools in your intellectual tool chest.



      • Joshua

        Your primitive imagination of a “nomad society” when you think of adaptation is interesting.

        Let’s expand this to include modern societies.

        “Accelerating” adaptation sounds fine, but one cannot “adapt” to something until one is fairly certain that its occurrence is imminent or likely to happen.

        If I live in tornado alley, I know that the odds of having a tornado are high, so I will “adapt” by building a storm shelter.

        If I live in a low lying area (like the Netherlands) and I see that sea levels are continuing to rise gradually year after year, I will increase the height of the protective dikes.

        Common sense, Joshua – not arrogant and ignorant pipe dreams of changing our planet’s climate.


    • Joshua.
      Advocating adaptation over mitigation is not a “false dichotomy” You need to learn more about the structure of argument. you think every problem is a nail, simply because you carry a hammer.

      We have tried for over 20 years to come to a global agreement on mitigation.
      The result? utter and complete failure. We have tried that approach to the exclusion of local adaptation. If anyone is “guilty” of a false dichotomy here it is those who have argued that only global mitigation will work.

      The “obstacles” to adaptation are entirely different than the obstacles to mitigation. When Barrow Alaska decided they wanted to do something to make their community more resilient to future effects of global warming, they didnt need China’s approval. They just needed to agree with each other.

      New Jersey will face a choice. Rebuild or not. many of us enviromentalists are suggesting that they not rebuild in certain areas. At the very least we should not subsidize this as it only adds to the cost of mitigation.
      Knowing what we know, that sea levels will increase, that storms will continue and perhaps get worse, how can we encourage people to engage in inherently dangerous behavior. Christ, next you’ll suggest that they take up smoking

    • There is nothing wrong with “mitigation” as an abstract idea. It’s just that the mitigation policies proposed, what goes unde “mitigation” are useless, they don’t mitigate anything.
      Mitigation isn’t wrong – per se. What is wrong is the unrealistic and impractical, and useless policies that are pushed under the false pretense that they will acheive mitigation.

      • I forgot to mention that these “unrealistic, impractical and useless” mitigation proposals are also horribly expensive.

      • jacobress

        Yes. The “unrealistic, impractical and useless” mitigation proposals are also horribly expensive.

        In addition, they achieve nothing. Nada. Zilch.

        Not one of the few specific actionable proposals (such as the WWF proposal to replace all fossil fuel fired plants with renewables or Hansen’s proposal to shut down all coal-fired power plants or a proposal posted here by Bridges to install carbon capturing + sequestering facilities on half of all new coal plants) result in any perceptible reduction in global warming by 2100, all at exorbitant cost.

        Mitigation is a myth.

        We are unable to change our planet’s climate, no matter how much money we throw at it.


      • Steven Mosher

        Not true MAX,

        we know for example that stopping air travel ( as we did after 9/11 in the US) had a measureable effect. So, it’s simply false that we cannot change the climate. We know also that we can change the climate of cities, which is the climate the vast majority of us see.

        broad generalizations are the worse kind of arguments. You should have learned that as a freshman. Stop using that approach.

      • Sorry, Steve.

        Cite me the hard data that show that “climate” changed as a result of the 9/11 flight cancellations.

        It didn’t.

        Climate changes all the time – had nothing to do with 9/11.


      • I think we can change climate


        But, what bothers me is the way claims of non-CO2 climate change in cities and countries caused by dirtying the air or cleaning the air or generating heat via UHI are dismissed by the AGW cult despite evidence the magnitude is huge compared to claimed CO2 warming.

        Aerosols are used by the cult to get their models to prove CO2 is causing the warming. It isn’t CO2. It is clean air legislation.

      • Steven Mosher


        We can change the climate locally (and as a result globally) by building cities. expanding airport runways, building dams, etc.

        But we cannot change our planet’s climate by

        a) implementing a direct or indirect carbon tax
        b) hollow political promises to cut one nation’s CO2 emissions to X% of those of year Y by year Z
        c) even sillier politicians vows to “hold global warming to no more than 2C”
        d) any of the specific actionable proposals made so far

        That’s the point here, Steven.

        If you believe otherwise, show me one specific example of a proposed action that would result in a specific reduction of global warming by 2100 (and, while you’re at it, show me what it would cost by when to realize this proposal).


        Ball’s in your court, Steven .


      • Steven Mosher

        Max you missed the point there.

        The point was that we can effect the climate. Not that the climate doesnt change for a whole host of reasons. We can change the weather. we have. the climate is nothing more than long term weather statistics.

      • The thing about warmists is that they claim we can change climate and then ignore everything but CO2. Aerosols to warmists are just fudge factors to be played with in models.

      • Hardly ignored:

        Isn’t it more the case that you are ignoring how large the CO2 contribution is compared to other things? It’s growing. By the time it doubles it’ll be off that scale. CO2 dominates.

      • 2.26W/m^2 over 26 years. 12.5x CO2.


        Clean Air Legislation.

        SO2 dropped the equivalent of 1 Pinatubo from 1980 to 2000.

        Clean Air Legislation.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Sunshine – you are on the right track – but you need to reflect on causality. From your link – http://s1114.photobucket.com/albums/k538/Chief_Hydrologist/?action=view&current=sunduandcloud.png


      • thisisnotgoodtogo

        It’s a moshattribution

      • Causality?

        “We found that variation of cloud cover determines Rs at a monthly scale but that aerosols determine the variability of Rs at a decadal time scale, in particular, over Europe and China.”


        Switzerland: “changes in sunshine from 1981 to 2011 produce 5.59W/m^2 in December to 15.25W/m^2 in April.”


        Netherlands … cleaner air, more sunshine.


        Clean Air Legislation. Not CO2.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘The connection between Rs and AOD is further clarified by correlating their five-year smoothed monthly anomalies at each station, i.e., the month-to-month variability seen in Fig. 10 was filtered out. Figure 11 shows that about 58%percent of all stations with this smoothing have a correlation coefficient larger than 0.5, indicating that the decadal variation
        in aerosols contributes more than 25% of the decadal variance in Rs at the majority of the individual stations. Some sites show low correlation or even negative correltion. At the stations, change of clouds is the determining factor of long-term variation of Rs, such as those in the United States (Long et al., 2009).’

        It is a bit difficult to draw conclusions from land based NH sites. But your study talks about both cloud and aerosols.

        You need to think about clouds as well.


      • An increase of 7 Pinatubos worth of SO2 by 1980 down to 6 Pinatubo’s woth of SO2 by 2000 and then some more thanks to China.

        Read this paper to see the effect of pollution and the effect of cleaning up the pollution.


        Air pollution / aerosols dwarfs cloud changes.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The tropospheric changes are local and minor – SO2 washing out of the atmosphere within about a day.

        ‘Because of the resultant increase in anthropogenic sulfur emissions, there is a 0.06 W∕m2 (absolute) increase in their cooling effect since 2002
        (Fig. 1). This increase partly reverses a period of declining sulfur
        emissions that had a warming effect of 0.19 W∕m2 between 1990
        and 2002.’ http://www.pnas.org/content/108/29/11790.full

        too little – too local and the story is not quite that simple

        ‘Black carbon is generated by fossil-fuel combustion and biomass burning. Black-carbon aerosols absorb solar radiation, and are probably a major ource of global warming1,2. However, the extent of black-carbon-induced warming is depedent on the concentration of sulphate and organic aerosols—which reflect solar radiation and cool the surface—and the origin of the black carbon3,4. Here we examined the impact of
        black-carbon-to-sulphate ratios on net warming in China, using surface and aircraft measurements of aerosol plumes from Beijing, Shanghai and the Yellow Sea. The Beijing plumes had the highest ratio of black carbon to sulphate, and exerted a strong positive influence on the net warming. Compiling all the data, we show that solar-absorption efficiency was
        positively correlated with the ratio of black carbon to sulphate. Furthermore, we show that fossil-fuel-dominated black-carbon plumes were approximately 100% more efficient warming agents than biomass-burning-dominated plumes.We suggest that climate-change-mitigation policies should aim at reducing fossil-fuel black-carbon emissions, together with the atmospheric ratio of black carbon to sulphate.’ http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v3/n8/abs/ngeo918.html

  14. The logic of global warming alarmism–i.e., fear of the hand of man — is a sign of the times. What about nature’s footprint?

    AGW has been called a mass mania. Is it more? Is it an anti-humanism that would consign humanity’s future to the whims of anti-industrialist Utopians in Ivory Towers? Is it a new age doomsday religion preaching apocalyptic Thermageddon? Has government-funded production of hybrid cars become a Golden Calf?

    Realists have been watching this dumbing-down of society and the government-funded education system for years. Global warming alarmism is just one of many indications of the spiral into oblivion of Western civilization.

    Leading the spiral down are accepted behaviors that lead to the ruction of morals, ethics and even the principles of the scientific method. These accepted behaviors undermine our personal faith and shared cultural confidence in our abilities to overcome ignorance and superstition with reason and knowledge. They rub all of our collective noses in societies’ lack of will to discriminate between good and bad.

    We no longer feel the need to reward excellence and personal achievement over self-destruction and self-defeating nihilism. If you don’t know and understand that fear of global warming is simply a symptom of a sick, corrupt and mentally dysfunctional zeitgeist — a case of global societal ADHD that has spread across and infected all of the Leftist and liberal fascists in the Northern hemisphere — then, answer these questions:

    “Why do scientists and news stories blame everything on global warming?

    “… Why is warming always framed as bad news?

    “Why does so much ‘research’ claim a warmer planet ‘may’ lead to more diarrhea, acne and childhood insomnia, more juvenile delinquency, war, violent crime and prostitution, death of the Loch Ness Monster – and even more Mongolian cows dying from cold weather?

    “… Why is it a bad thing that more CO2 helps plants tolerate droughts better and re-vegetate deserts?

    “… Why do ‘error corrections’ always seem to result in more warming than originally predicted, instead of less?

    “And why do taxpayers have to shell out Big Bucks on this stuff?

    “… If we didn’t know better, we’d think the operative rules were: Never seek logical or alternative answers, if you can blame a phenomenon or problem (like decreasing frog populations) on global warming. Do whatever it takes and fund whatever research is needed, to advance the goals of ending hydrocarbon use, increasing government control and ‘transforming’ society. And always include the terms ‘global warming’ or ‘climate change’ in any grant application.

    “It may not be corruption. But it sure skews the research, conclusions and policy recommendations.”

    [Paul Driessen, Willie Soon, and David R. Legates, Cause for alarm, May 23, 2010]

  15. “it is very very difficult to negotiate the complex bureaucracies in these countries”

    Isn’t this the purpose of the UN? No question, weather forecasting is important especially for developing countries. The trick is to empower them instead of imposing solutions?

    IMO, the UN tends to impose cookie-cutter solutions which are poorly designed and culturally inappropriate. The only way to fix this is via Design alternatives which empower the end user to choose from.

    The issue that jumps out for me, NYC knew that Battery Park was prone to flooding as dis the other States with shoreline communities. Why didn’t they take steps to mitigate the potential problems before they occurred?

    • “The issue that jumps out for me, NYC knew that Battery Park was prone to flooding as dis the other States with shoreline communities. Why didn’t they take steps to mitigate the potential problems before they occurred?” They did, ConEd shut off power to the area before the flooding. New Jersey called for evacuations.

      As they say, Pooh Pooh occurs. If NYC had installed levies to protect up to 14.5 feet of surge, this time it would be less flooding, but if Sandy had been a full cat 2, the surge would have been ~23 feet (Katrina), then you would say, “why didn’t they take precautions” The largest storm surge ever recorded was 43 feet. If Cumbre Vieja collapsed with a quake, there would an Atlantic coast tsumani of about 150 feet which could trash 20 more miles inland. Should that be the design?

      You do your best, console the survivors then grab a mop and bucket.

      Oh, you also have one big a$$ barbecue since all the frozen food is going to spoil anyway.

      • Good points, they obviously can’t protect against all events but Hurricane Irene did point to the problem.

        An inflatable sea wall would have helped to control the Battery Park flooding?

      • Some of the better plans are the simplest. Sand bags for example if the forecast was for something close be manageable. Design wise, tile, concrete, rock. Materials that are easily cleaned up and durable. Cork or tile flooring in flood prone areas with none of that sheet rock wall board makes clean up easy. Functional shutters, trimmed trees, tile roofs, just the standard Florida way of living.

        Now, New Yorkers wouldn’t know about cash in the pocket, battery operated entertainment, inverters to charge stuff and canned goods in the pantry and a kick butt gas grill with stove top, but hey, they’ll learn after a few FEMA meals.

      • More great points and you’re completely right about preparedness. Funniest line I heard reported prior to landfall. You can speak to a New Yorker but not for very long.

        Seems like the logical thing to do in the Battery Park area is to use available resources for an emergency sea wall. In this case, water from the Rivers and lego like containers which could be stored on the River floor when not in use.

        Then simply drain the containers back into the Rivers after use.

      • If Florida we have another thing called break away walls. If you build a home, you put the living area well above the average peak flood. Under the home you have an area sheltered by the home. It is illegal to permanently enclose that space. During a flood, water is supposed to flow through, so you can install break away walls. If it floods, the walls hinge out of the way of the flow of water, so the structure stays put. If you build solid walls, the flood relocates the home typically with a tad of moving damage.

        So if you install hard barriers, the barriers become battering rams, not a good thing. So think like Caine or Luke, be one with the force. Then grab a mop and bucket :)

      • The break away wall approach is cleaver.

        It would be logical to reexamine East Coast shoreline building codes prior to restoration but I doubt they’ll consider it.

      • capt @ 12.01: a leading Brisbane architect has designed houses which can be built on areas flooded in 2011 because they assume possible flooding. E.g., the lowest level has slats rather than solid walls and hose-downable surfaces, all vulnerable aspects of the house are well above feasible flood levels. Let’s say we don’t have another major flood for, say, 40 years. If you say, “Flood-prone, no building,” you lose the benefits of living by the river. If you say, “Okay, it might flood, design a house which will be minimally affected by floods,” you can have those benefits without great risk.

      • Fastino, that is getting to be a lot more common down here where it is allowed. Most areas codes require stilts.

    • Does anyone know the purpose of the UN? Other than as Roosevelt’s monument, for which he sold out the Poles?

    • John

      In the Uk we have tried demountable walls erected when there is a risk of flooding in inland riverside areas


      On the coast we increasingly use walls with gates for access. Of course the demountables need to be erected and the gates closed in time. Generally flood predictions here are pretty good, although I think the Scheme referred to in the link had an initial glitch when the barriers couldnt be reached because of flooding at the storage depot


      • Another example of flood prevention barriers is the St. Petersburg dam.. The location at the extreme end of the Gulf of Finland leads occasionally to sea level 3-4 meters above the average. There are no tides or hurricanes in the Baltic sea but storms and depressions get strong enough anyway. The change in sea level at St. Petersburg is typically twice what we have in Helsinki halfway on the Gulf of Finland.

      • Pekkla

        Inteesting. Sounds like St Petersburg was a really bad place to site a city!


      • Another example, on a smaller scale, but it saved the village:

  16. Climate Weenie

    Condos on the beach?
    Port cities close to sea level? ( or below )?
    California built on an overdue disaster to be?
    Seattle waiting for a combo Lahore, Tsunami, Volcano, Earthquake?

    Kinda laughable to think we’re gonna legislate economic growth or locations where people wanna be.

  17. Climate Weenie

    It’s worth reflecting that the NY subway was built because the blizzard of 1888. The same logic in response to Sandy would move the subway above ground – until the next great blizzard.

  18. I see the AGW verbiage is on the rise again, especially in the US.

    Global Warming Systemically Caused Hurricane Sandy

    Can Sandy Help Jolt America Out of Climate Change Denial?

    Did Global Warming Contribute to Hurricane Sandy’s Devastation?

    “”My view is that a lot of this is chance,” Dr. Trenberth said. “It relates to weather, and the juxtaposition of weather systems. A hybrid storm is certainly one which is always in the cards and it’s one we’ve always worried about.”

    But, he added, human-induced global warming has been raising the overall temperature of the surface ocean, by about one degree Fahrenheit since the 1970s. So global warming very likely contributed a notable fraction of the energy on which the storm thrived — perhaps as much as 10 percent, he said.”

    Experts warn of superstorm era to come

    An own-goal again?

    • And Democrats are using it on the Hill.


      – Sandy thrusts climate change into close Mass. Senate race
      – Rep. Waxman seeks lame-duck hearing on Sandy, climate change links
      – Bill Clinton, citing Sandy, hits Romney on climate change
      – Al Gore calls Sandy a ‘disturbing sign of things to come,’ urges climate action
      – Meghan McCain to GOP after Sandy: Do you still doubt climate change?
      – George Allen slams green group, Dems for launching attack ad during Sandy
      – News bites: Nuke plants, refineries, and climate questions in Sandy’s path

    • It is notable that Trenberth said gw “very likely” contributed a notable fraction of the energy on which the storm thrived and then further qualified it with “perhaps” , “as much as” 10 percent. That is a whole bunch of qualifiers getting it to zero to 10 percent. Not exactly unconditional causation as some would make it out to be.

  19. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    It’s likely that Sandy’s impact along all that built-up shoreline will once again highlight opportunities for improving the National Flood Insurance Program. The insurance companies, [federal agencies], and the publics they all serve have skin in the game. Such discussions are needed at the federal, state and local levels.

    He nails it with “once again”: the discussion has been ongoing my whole life. Hurricane Sandy adds to it. Every city and town that got hit had already been hit multiple times by hurricanes and other disasters. All that was new with Sandy was the diameter and the fact that its landfall coincided with high tide.

    We can keep score.

    I agree, but is that new? We already know that in “constant” dollars this is the 17th worst in US history — subject to revisions. Every city confirmed its knowledge of its weaknesses, and may have learned something new. Every city had policies based on previous disasters: evacuation routes, professional first-responders (in civic and private sector), insurance, drainage systems. They all have histories of thorough post-mortem reviews, and this storm will produce more as a matter of course.

    If there is anything new here, it’s that words like “Frankenstorm” do more harm than good. Even that’s not really new: every natural disaster is interpreted by someone or other as a punishment from divinity — here a punishment for interfering with nature.

  20. When I first came to America I lived in Michigan and then moved to Houston.
    I was very surprised how well the people in Michigan could drive in snow.
    The winter before last we had less than 1 inch of snow in Houston and the whole of the city ground to a halt and there were crashes everywhere.
    My guess is that people get used to things.

    • Steven Mosher

      hell ya, we know how to drive in snow. you gotta get to grandmas house for christmas. lake effect snow, blizzard, white out. not a problem. thats what frickin snow tires are for.

      • “… lake effect snow, blizzard, white out. not a problem. thats what frickin snow tires are for.”

        A little bit much bravado there. Careful somebody might believe you ;O) Lived in SW snowbelt of Buffalo 20 years. Numerous holiday trips along the south shore of L.Erie, Southern Tier. You damn well better respect it. Fetch and direction are everything. (That is what radar is for.)

      • David Springer

        I grew up 60 miles SE of Buffalo. Snow tires aren’t used much there anymore. Front-wheel drive, anti-lock brakes, and all weather radials pretty much negate the need. The reason we don’t do well in the sun-belt with rare snow accumulations is not having a fleet of vehicles ready to salt the roads at zero dark thirty in the morning before people get on the road headed for work. It’s easier to just shut down the city for a day once in a great while. I’ve never seen anyone complain about it especially my kids when school is cancelled. School was cancelled about as often due to snow in the Buffalo, NY area as it is in Austin, TX near as I can tell having lived 20 years in each locale. The other 20 years was in Southern California south of Los Angeles near the coast. No snow days there.

      • “It’s easier to just shut down the city for a day once in a great while.”

        The big issue near the lake is visibility (Orchard Park, Hamburg), particular at night. But you still have to respect it near the lake and on 219 along the ridge. The solution for the latter was simple–travel in the valleys–big difference in a blow. Every year they have go and get to a few people on I-90. Getting around usually wasn’t an issue, unless the wind was blowing. Again school closure was usually due to a combination of extreme cold and wind–having to do with kids waiting out in the cold more than driving.

        I actually liked the clear cold weather there in January and February. Except for early darkness in winter and a lousy economy it is a nice place to live. Great people. And they do know how to handle the snow.

        Final thought: the snow blower is the greatest human invention.

      • Steven Mosher


      • Steven Mosher

        (Short off-topic) BTW how is the kriging going? Any time for it?

  21. Chief Hydrologist

    It seems a truism that every event poses unique challenges and generally it is matter of hunkering down and responding after the fact. Modelling and monitoring lets you know where it is safer to hunker down and infrastructure and emergency response planning enables effective and timely response.

    But the proxy evidence over the Holocene shows that there is the potential for mega floods and mega droughts from entirely natural causes. The lesson from this data seems to be that there is worse to come.

    All you can really do is have the warning systems in place, head for the hills and safety and build in resilience after the fact.

  22. When will the Left apologize to the American people for blaming George Bush and not Katrina for flooding New Orleans? We know who has been playing politics with the weather. It goes back to when Al Gore was VP of the US (under Bill Clinton). The motivation behind the fearmongering has nothing to do with what is good for the people and everything to do with more power to an out-of-control federal bureaucracy that has grown too large to fail.

  23. In general I prefer private enterprise to provide public services but the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) has provided a good service to the public at taxpayer expense. But they uncritically accepted the views of the UN’s IPCC on future climate, as did many private providers and for that I cannot forgive them.

    After the 1940 experience, and the last decade’s experience of no global warming, despite increases in CO2, both private and public weather services must be wondering why they continue to follow the IPCC. Of course it should be said that climate prediction science is quite different from weather prediction although a poor signal to noise ratio is evident in both. But weather prediction has greatly improved since the introduction of computers and satellites. Now it seems that climate prediction needs more than classical thermodynamics for advancement and to explain the above aberrations. See my website above.

    • ENSO and solar cycle are all that are needed to explain the trend over the last 10 years. See Foster and Rahmstorf.

      Until there’s a breakdown in the ENSO and solar cycle corrected warming it cannot be claimed warming has stopped.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        The evidence suggests that greenhouse warming didn’t kick off much at all – let alone pause.


        ‘In summary, although there is independent evidence for decadal changes in TOA radiative fluxes over the last two decades, the evidence is equivocal. Changes in the planetary and tropical TOA radiative fluxes are consistent with independent global ocean heat-storage data, and are expected to be dominated by changes in cloud radiative forcing. To the extent that they are real, they may simply reflect natural low-frequency variability of the climate system. ‘ AR4 – emphasis mine.

        But the world did warm a little in the ARGO period.


        The cause was cloud cover change.


        There are no simple answers but there is simple data. The cloud changes are in good part ENSO related. Whence ENSO?



        More La Nina I would suggest for reasons of UV intensity. Sometime relatively soon and for the next thousand years at least.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Here is the CERES/MODIS for clouds this century.

      • lolwot, thank you for your comment.
        ENSO has certainly changed over the last decade, but no one has been able to show that it cancels a warming trend due to CO2. As for the solar cycle, the 11 year central moving average smoothing formula I use cancels that out.

        You obviously have a lot of faith in ENSO and so did I years ago. Its neglect was the reason I pulled out of the Oxford/Hadley ‘grid’ computing experiment. I said that if you could not model and predict ENSO then you did not understand climate. However in retrospect we can include ENSO even if we can’t predict its future. We know exactly when ENSO changed from + to – , or vice versa, but I have not been able to link that with any discernable change in global climate, probably because it just shifts climate from one part of the world to another. That is just a hypothesis.
        But you are right. Climate models will not be reliable predictors, certainly regionally, until ENSO and the other alphabetics, ADO and PDO are understood and modeled. In the mean time that does not stop us from trying to put together the narrative jig-saw of 20th and 21st century climate.
        We have to work with the tools we have.

      • The Foster and Rahmstorf paper uses data to the end of 2010. On qualitative level it’s pretty convincing but there are a couple of points that make it difficult to tell the statistical significance of the results. In particular the outcome is highly dependent on the assumption that the long term trend is purely linear in spite of the fact that extending the period for a decade to earlier times is clearly inconsistent with a linear trend. The data would certainly allow for curvature in the long term trend and that might affect significantly the latest years as well as expectations to the future.

        I did a check on how well the Foster and Rahmstorf fits predict what has happened during the 21 months up to Sep. 2012. I did that with one data set only and happened to pick GISTEMP for that. The results are seen here. The period is short because the data source that I used for solar irradiance covers only this period. Comparing with Foster and Rahmstorf tells the basis for the trend line. Here the trend is 0.17 C/decade, which is the fit to adjusted GISTEMP. A similar comparison with the other time series might agree better in 2012 as the fitted trends are a little smaller.

        We see that the extension of the fit agrees well over the year 2011 but starts to deviate in August 2011 (the moving average turns downwards) and the last 13 months (two last data points) are more than 0.1C below the trend. Although the deviation is this strong in the moving average it’s not significant unless it persists for longer.

        The solar minimum was exceptionally strong and that’s essential for the Foster and Rahmstorf results. The observed behavior of the MEI index that’s used to describe ENSO is equally important. We see a posteriori that TSI and MEI can explain the plateau to late 2011. It was not possible to predict this behavior as it was not possible to predict correctly TSI and MEI. It’s interesting to see, how this continues. My guess is that the trend of 0.17 C/decade turns out to be a little high. Perhaps we do find also some evidence for nonlinearity of the trend. That could signal some oscillatory behavior excluded from the fit.

        With all the caveats the Foster and Rahmstorf paper seems to present a valid explanation for much of the plateauing.

      • Pekka – in that period you have the 2nd strongest La Nina in the record. Despite the emergence of a weak-to-meek El Nino forecast, September, 2012 was the hottest September in the record.

      • JHC,
        Looking at the monthly data the lowest adjusted values were Dec. 2011 – Feb 2012, while July and Aug 2011 were particularly warm. These factors combine to give the behavior we see in the moving average. It must be remembered that moving average changes always according to the difference between the most recent month and the month 12 months earlier. This difference has been mostly negative from Sep 2011 to Sep 2012. The trend may well reverse when the relatively cool months of late 2011 start do drop out of calculation.

      • Steven Mosher

        not so clear when the method includes lag hunting, but in general it shows an explanation.

      • Taking the autocorrelations into account one may certainly wonder what is the statistical significance of the fit that involves three lags, four strengths and the level. On the positive side is the fact that the components are the same as in Lean and Rind (2008) which covered a much longer period up to 2006.

        What I observed about the following 21 months is neutral in the sense that there’s some deviation but not enough to disprove the parameterization.

      • lolwot

        Lack of a significant AGW signal is enough to explain the trend of the past 10 years. See Easterbrook.

        It may well last another twenty years if Easterbrook is right.


      • For a debunking of Foster + Rahmstorf 2011 see

        It falls into the “we can only explain it if we assume…” logic trap.

      • That’s terrible critique. More or less every sentence contains wrong logic. The basic nature is that of strawman argumentation, i.e. it does not apply to what Foster and Rahmstorf present.

        Zero points.

      • Which is why Max likes it.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        ‘When the data are adjusted to remove the estimated impact of known factors on short-term temperature variations (El Nino/southern
        oscillation, volcanic aerosols and solar variability), the global warming signal becomes even more evident as noise is reduced.’

        I can never get past the abstract. Where albedo is not considered along with solar variability then the results are nonsense.


  24. Here’s a lesson maybe we could learn from Sandy.

    Over the past months, I have read many a “skeptic” explain that public concern about climate change was dropping because of the public was seeing that claims from climate scientists were exaggerated, and thus the public had lost confidence in climate scientists. I was told that short-term weather patterns (a few cold winters) were proving to be the “last nail in the coffin” and the “last stake through the heart” of concern about AGW. Judith opined that there was a “crisis” of confidence in climate science. I remember exchanging comments with Willis on more than one occasion, where I explained to him that his confidence in his theory of attribution for public opinion on climate change seemed ill-founded.

    I suggested a number of other factors that might well correlate with public opinion; the economy, the rise of political extremism among the rightwing, short-term weather phenomena. I suggested to Judith that if she was going to theorize about a “crisis” in climate scientists, she might want to gather some validated data on which to support her theory. I suggested to many of my beloved “skeptics” that they might be generalizing about public opinion based on an inaccurate projection of their own views onto others – a form of motivated reasoning. I suggested that their confidence in their theories about the causes of public opinion might be the confidence of a “skeptic” and not the analysis of a skeptic.

    And lo and behold, recent droughts, fires, and storms – the last being Sandy – undoubtedly have proven the theories of my much beloved “skeptics,” about the causal factors in public opinion on climate change. to be ill-considered after all. One might even say facile.

    So irrespective of whether or not the science supports a direct link between Sandy and climate change resulting from ACO2 – I think that a lesson at least some of us might learn from Sandy is that they should be more careful when drawing lines between causation and correlation.

    • Shorter version from the Climate Progress Talking Points Memo: Weather will save Climate Science© from the Pause™.

    • Wow, Joshua. I feel so chastised. What a lesson we’ve learned, and who better to show us the error of our ways than thou, oh holy wise one? And yet. The recent droughts, fires, and storms you mention are no different from the droughts, fires, and storms that are in fact ongoing…if not in our part of the world than almost certainly in other parts. Bottom line, CAGW is dead as a doornail (what is a doornail, anyway?) from a policy standpoint. Do you really not see that? Your harping and carping about “generalizing” and “inaccurate projections” are nothing more than standard issue Joshua mental masturbating.

      • The phrase “dead as a doornail” dates from before 1350. “William and Mary Morris, in The Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins, quote a correspondent who points out that it could come from a standard term in carpentry. If you hammer a nail through a piece of timber and then flatten the end over on the inside so it can’t be removed again (a technique called clinching), the nail is said to be dead, because you can’t use it again. Doornails would very probably have been subjected to this treatment to give extra strength in the years before screws were available. So they were dead because they’d been clinched. It sounds plausible, but whether it’s right or not we will probably never know.” http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-dea1.htm

      • Heinrich the Norwegian Elkhound

        Bottom line, CAGW is dead as a doornail (what is a doornail, anyway?) from a policy standpoint. Do you really not see that?

        Form a policy standpoint? Fallacy of irrelevance.

        The laws of physics do not care about policy standpoints.

        Do you really not see that?


    • Joshua, I think the change in public opinion in Australia has three main causes.

      1: claims of doom have not eventuated; they may have been of the “doom by mid-to-end-century” variety, but people haven’t seen dramatic change in a quite large part of their lifespan, and, indeed, are aware that, in Australia, well-established climate and weather patterns continue and temperatures have not risen perceptibly for a decade.

      2: people will go along with things for a number of reasons if they bear no costs; in Australia there is economic uncertainty post GFC and very high electricity price rises, in part because of emissions-reduction measures; and people are less likely to accept tales of far off doom from unobservable (by them) factors and relationships when those longer-term possibilities are costing them short-term money.

      3: political factors: PM Kevin Rudd hyped CAGW as “the great moral issue of our time,” then abandoned his ETS because it appeared to have little political traction. He was “stabbed-in-the-back” in the aftermath, his successor Julia Gillard went to an election with an explicit “no carbon tax in my time” promise then, faced with a hung Parliament, promised the Greens a carbon tax/ETS and many other costly anti-emissions measures in order to gain a one-vote majority and support in the Senate.

      And I’m not “generalising about public opinion,” many polls show (a) a great drop in support for anti-emissions policies and (b) CAGW dropping way down the list of issues of most concern. There is no longer significant support for the CT/ETS, renewables etc in Australia, I think because reality has struck, the cosy glow of being on the CAGW band-wagon has lost its lustre. And short-termism generally prevails, perhaps because throughout human history life has tended to be “nasty, brutish and short,”

      • Faustino –

        From the data I’ve seen, concern in the US about environmental issues in general correlates pretty strongly with the economy. And we have some evidence that shows that concern about climate change fluctuates with the weather. I have little doubt public opinion on climate change in both our countries is likely to be influenced by the related economics.

      • That last is something we can agree on, Joshua. There is in my humble opinion, very little chance that Europe will somehow find a way to unwind its monumental debt and go on its merry way. Even if you don’t buy European debt default, and the collapse of the euro…which I do…there are years of slow to no growth ahead….in the U.S. as well. Our debt overhang is just as bad if not worse. There’s something different about the current economic situation in the western world, and it does not bode well for all you warmists.

        The very last thing we can currently afford is more costly energy. Tha alone, in combination with the political standoff in the U.S. practically guarantees that nothing will be done in a substantive way to “combat climate change” (oh how silly is that phrase in any case)…in any substantive way.

      • PG –

        What makes me a “warmist?” Can you identify some belief that I have that puts me into that category?

        I mostly think you are correct. I think the only chance of substantive policies to address climate change in the near future will come if there is a series of severe weather events, that are very impactful, and where arguments that they aren’t in fact anomalous will just not seem plausible. As I understand AGW theory, it projects that a series of such events is possible but unlikely.

        Where I will disagree is semantically r/r/t you assessment of “more” costly energy. Unless we can do a full-cost accounting of how much our energy costs us currently, such a confident comparison seems ill-founded to me. Certainly, perception-wise, what is more isn’t “more” costly is important w/r/t public opinion – and an obvious increase in the cost of oil and coal and nat gas will certainly not be particularly popular. However, I am not convinced that increases in the cost of those energy sources with a corresponding increase in the availability of alternative sources is necessarily “more costly” when a full accounting is done – and in the unlikely event that there is a series of dramatic server weather events, the general public may also view the economics in a less surface manner.

      • Joshua

        You believe that: “Unless we can do a full-cost accounting of how much our energy costs us currently”

        So you advocate the government getting involved in the marketplace to assign additional costs to products based on some government opinion of the “harms” associated with a form of energy production? That has been a position advocated by others here who believe we need to rapidly move to alternate forms of energy production, but it is loaded with economic hazards.

        BTW- much of what you advocate is already in place, but the resulting decisions have not always been made the way that you may have wished. As an example, a State or local government could force a coal mine operator return the site to its original environmental condition after completing mining. The result would be that the mine was not economically viable and it would mean there were no jobs from the mine or the resulting economic activity. Choices are already being made in the marketplace and we should let the market work.

      • Rob –

        The government is already heavily involved, at multiple levels, in the marketplace of energy. I am advocating a more comprehensive assessment of that involvement and bringing the results to the table for stakeholder dialog.

        What I object to are pronouncements about the “cost” of alternative energy policies w/o a full cost accounting. Saying that one thing costs “more” than something else presumes an assessment of current costs. For all the focus on costing out alternative policies, and all the statements I see about how they will certainly bring economic doom, I have yet to see what seems to me to be a comprehensive and open-minded effort to discuss a full accounting. Mostly what I see are people on either side banging on drums to the rhythms of partisan rhetoric. It is all easily predictable by identifying the partisan identifications of those involved.

      • On any issue the available evidence can support persistently some level of public concern. (That level may differ from what experts conclude from the same evidence on the average.) With high publicity the public concern may be raised temporarily to a higher level but that leads later to the public view that the fears have been without basis even when the experts maintain same views as before.

        In other words:
        – The public is first made to have more fears than valid and easily understandable evidence can support.
        – When the public finds out that their earlier fears have not materialized in the way they thought there’s a backslash. Many of them will believe that they have been misled.

        All the above may happen whether the original level of public concern will ultimately turn out to be fully justified or not when “ultimately” refers to distant future.

      • Pekka –

        With high publicity the public concern may be raised temporarily to a higher level but that leads later to the public view that the fears have been without basis even when the experts maintain same views as before.

        Here’s the thing about that. I’m sure that it happens to some extent, but not nearly to the extent as “skeptics” identify. If the public viewed the fears w/o basis then they wouldn’t then again later think that the fears are with basis. Many “skeptics” project their own mindset onto the larger public. For example, Willis argued that some rather arcane statistical inaccuracy he thought he found was the type of thing that was changing public opinion.

        For the most part, those feeling the fears are without basis are partisans who are deeply involved and committed. Most of the public don’t have that level of commitment either way. Their level of concern wavers with the weather, with the economy, with their view of the economic impact of policy proposals to address climate change, etc.

        General public opinion is not largely affected by some “crisis” of confidence resulting from climategate, it isn’t largely affected by a scientist saying we wouldn’t see snow in England. There is a logic to these theories about what drives public opinion – but they aren’t supported by evidence and it is always tricky when someone tries to overlay logic onto the vagaries of public opinion.

      • Joshua,

        One difference is that I’m in Europe, where the climate change was taken much more seriously than in US. Most politicians want to be seen as environmentally oriented and supporting rather strong climate policies. Similarly most people who haven’t chosen to be actively skeptics have been unwilling to present contrary views. There have been some clear signs that this state of matters is changing. One factor is in economic problems but that’s not the only one.

        People have also noticed that the practical solutions that have been strongly promoted are problematic. Biofuels are the most obvious case as they for a significant part criticized also by some environmental groups. Many of the other proposals have also met critique – and for good reasons in many cases. Thus people see that climate change is coupled with specific policies or supposed solutions that are not convincing. That affects the credibility of climate science as well.

        I have the feeling that the threat is too far in the future and too remote to carry trough. I may certainly be mistaken, but there are signs of that.

      • Pekka

        Regarding “CAGW” you write from a European (Finnish) standpoint:

        I have the feeling that the threat is too far in the future and too remote to carry trough. I may certainly be mistaken, but there are signs of that.

        I would agree from a European (Swiss) standpoint. And there is still serious doubt whether or not there really is a threat at all, with most people generally convinced that there is no real threat. Politicians (especially the greens and socialists) still give it lukewarm lip service, but talking about phasing out nuclear power has taken higher priority for the moment.

        I predict that it will continue to lose the public interest, especially if it continues not to warm for another several years (or – oh horror! – even starts to cool).


      • As long as close to 70% of US poll respondents think climate scientists are fudging the data, it will be hard to gain public confidence in IPCC’s “CAGW” premise there

      • Pekka –

        Yes, I’m sure that the different context impacts the dynamics. That is crucial.

        An interesting tangent to your comments about biofuels is how biofuels have been adopted as part of the climate debate here in the US – and I think that largely proves my point.

        Originally, the use of biofuels were primarily advocated in a fairly non-partisan manner – and if their was a partisan association, it was largely with energy independence advocating Republicans, (and Republicans are disproportionately represented among “skeptics”). Yes – some “realists” promoted biofuels as a part of AGW advocacy, but fairly early on it was realized that ethanol from corn would not have much of an ACO2 impact. However, now that there are data to show a connection between biofuel policies and increases in food costs, “skeptics” want to adopt biofuel policies as a weapon in their climate battle arsenal. So they blame the “AGW cabal” for starving millions in Africa because of biofuel advocacy.

        What I’m getting at is that the opinions of committed advocates is not a good basis for generalizing about public opinion. In fact, the opinions of advocates should be assumed to be outliers – because advocates have a tendency to filter information more strongly than those who are less committed. Whenever someone projects a strong advocacy perspective onto the broader public – their arguments should be viewed with suspicion, IMO. While the advocate “skeptics” see biofuels as another example of the destructive reasoning of “realists,” I doubt that the general public in the US makes that sort of association. But of course, the question of how biofuel policy affects public opinion w/r/t climate change would very likely be different in countries where the association with political advocacy has a very different history.

      • Joshua, biofuels is a perfect example of how big government can screw up a wet dream. Farmers started corn to ethanol plants about 5 to 10 years before the 20 in 10 speech. The object of the farmers was to use surplus grain that was molded, bug infested trash and turn it into a treasure. The “realists” were the farmers, not the government. The government “mandate” turned the boon into a boondoggle as larger corporations moved into “invest” in the corn to ethanol boom. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, “Keep your friends close and your corrupt friends closer.”

      • Cap’n –

        Yes, “big government’ can screw up a wet dream. And “big government” can produce much good.

        The problem, IMO, is when folks allow motivated reasoning to corrupt their analysis of the costs and benefits of big government. Pattern-finding – a fundamental component of our cognitive processing – is a big piece of that influence of motivated reasoning. When someone is committed to finding the “unintended consequences” of big government, they will certainly find many examples. The problem is facile generalization. The goal should be to use historical examples to inform us going forward. It is a fine line to walk.

      • Joshua

        “Biofuels” are a wonderful idea conceptually.

        In practice, Brazil has been successful with sugar cane ethanol (but the Amazon rain forest has suffered as a result).

        The US (mandated) ethanol-from-corn has been a disaster with the tax-payer picking up the tab.

        Whether or not it has caused food shortages in underdeveloped countries is a moot point.

        A practical problem is this.

        Corn ethanol requires about twice the acreage as sugar cane ethanol.

        To replace ALL of the US gasoline demand with corn ethanol would require ALL of the agricultural crop land in the USA. So corn ethanol is a bad solution.

        Many oil companies are looking at biofuels from algae – this might be a more promising avenue.


      • Joshua, “The problem is facile generalization.” Give the wet basement owner a cigar! There is no group more capable of facile generalizations than idealists. Their pigeonhole is facile.

        Their biggest problem is separating “truisms” from “generalizations”

    • MattStat/MatthewRMarler

      Joshua: I think that a lesson at least some of us might learn from Sandy

      “might” is as good as “maybe”, and among my favorite words in climate science.

    • Joshua, what is happening with Sandy is the same thing that is happening with “cold weather” nails. Just different tribes. All I have seen thus far is just more anecdotes. Tribes taking a position and teaming up. The only part of the speculation I agree with is that the general public might be swayed temporarily by different short term phenomena since in general they are not scientists. I find the unsupported speculation by both sides to be motivated reasoning. Which seeing certain climate scientists make unfounded claims interesting in that it gives the other side ammunition about trust and bias, and makes the scientists look like “no-nothings.”

  25. We can grow our society’s resilience to such events.

    Sure can!

    Build with steel.

    Buy iron and coal from Australia to build more resilient infrastructure. :)

  26. I believe we can and will, eventually, protect the coastline from wind and storm surge, etc.. It does and will make financial sense. And we do have the technology and know how, now!

  27. Thank you Dr. Curry for not making this an AGW claim or some other unrelated issue. Great job!

  28. MattStat/MatthewRMarler

    I think one of the lessons is that mayors of big East Coast cities have more important duties than regulating trans-fat.

  29. For those of you who think CAGW is dead and buried…

    “Eco-Taxes? Study Financed by U.S. Treasury Will Link Tax Code to Carbon Emissions

    A major tax study currently being sponsored by the U.S. Treasury will give environmental activists a powerful new weapon in their campaign to alter the entire American economic and social landscape in the name of halting ‘climate change’—including the possible levying of new carbon taxes.”


    The various massive bureaucracies in the U.S. are filled with progressive CAGW acolytes. If Obama wins this election, the Congress will be likely be powerless to stop the bureaucracy from decarbonizing the US economy by fiat. This article is one example that the IRS will join the EPA in making legislation irrelevant. With the NAS and other government funded CAGW advocates providing a “scientific” fig leaf.

    The insta-attribution of disasters like Sandy to CAGW will provide further gloss for using “climate change” to justify the further de-constitutionalization of the US government. But what is certain is that anyone who thinks the silence of Obama on climate change means that decarbonization is a dead policy, is badly mistaken.

  30. The insurance industry? Munich Re? Oh, please.


    “You’ve got to wonder when scientists like Stefan Rahmstorf work hand in hand with the reinsurance industry, writing doomsday reports that help fatten the bottom line. Hartmut Grassl, a climate alarmist, is also connected to Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer.

    Reader DirkH points out how the Munich Re has at least two more agents at the IPCC. Working Group II AR5 Writing Teams, Chapter 10 — Key economic sectors and services, Eberhard Faust, Munich Reinsurance Company and an excerpt from a report from Dr Sandra Schuster, meteorologist with Munich Re, Sydney, who has just been appointed as a Lead Author (WG2) for IPCC AR5.”

    The insurance industry has been at the forefront of alarmism for reasons that are obvious. Inviting them into this discussion is liking inviting the fox as a ‘stakeholder’ on henhouse security, when the fox is bidding for the contract.

    Insurance companies have used bogus climate projections to raise their premiums, and in Australia at least have been at the forefront of maintaining public anxiety about the issue.

    As a general observation, it seems that preparedness is linked to frequency of the event. As people have mentioned, Florida handles big storms and hurricanes better than places where these don’t often occur. Frankly, it is a waste of money to over-engineer everything at vast expense for events which rarely happen. It is cheaper and more sensible to just take reasonable precautions and otherwise deal with them if/when they arise.

    The biggest problem with natural disasters in rich countries is the moral hazard issue regarding insurance. After major floods or bushfires in Australia, the outpouring of public sympathy has meant that people who have made financial sacrifices to buy insurance may find themselves no better off than those who did not, as governments bail out the uninsured. Indeed, they may be worse off if the insurance company finds a fine print exclusion to avoid paying.

    • “Indeed, they may be worse off if the insurance company finds a fine print exclusion to avoid paying”

      Or, being forced to include a flood contribution within the annual household premium when the house is nowhere near a river and can never be flooded … this has already happened

      • That’s a standard technique for profit-padding, Ian. All our premiums have to rise because of projected sea level rises that have not happened, or as you mention, pretending that due to ‘climate change’ we all have to pay more for what are easily identifiable (and chargeable) risks. It’s a racket.

      • Yup. Maybe the IPCC should backdate global warming to The Great Fire of London in 1666, as insurance claims were zero before then and it must have released a shed-load of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere).
        “The world’s first insurance company”:

      • Nice link, Michael, thanks. There is always more to learn!

        Insurance companies are probably worse than banks when it comes to perfidy. They weasel their way in to the body politic because they ‘help people’. For instance, where I live they have convinced the government to add a levy to premiums to support public firefighting and emergency services. Taxation by stealth, plus it reduces their payouts. Of course, if you don’t have insurance, it doesn’t cost you a cent.

        I cannot believe the naivete of those who advocate bringing these sharks into discussions about public policy in regards to disaster prevention and management.

      • Johanna

        As the link says the first insurance co was the Sun. They issued subscribers with little iron sun symbols which peiple put on the front of their houses to demonstrate they were insured. No plaque no service.

        To this day you can see the original Sun symbols on the front of older houses.

        1666 was an exceptionally hot summer in England. Records show that is when the rise in temperatures started with numerous advances and retreats (see first graph in my link)

        Curiously the temperature dropped immediately after the great fire to the depths of the LIA. Pepys drecribed oak tres cracking in the severe cold.Thereby surely demonstrating that releasing ‘shed loads’ of carbon decreses-not raises-temperature :)


      • Wow, Tony, amazing that the sun symbols have survived this long. Much longer than any insurance company! Still, it was the era when capital formation began, like the early Stock Exchanges and the Dutch and English East India companies. From a slow start, they really began to hit their straps in the second half of the C17th.

        Sorry if I am droning on. Economic history is a hobby of mine.

        For Londoners, the Great Fire just before a major cooling episode was probably a good thing. Fire kills rats and bacteria, whereas colder temperatures just slow them down a bit.

      • Johanna

        I wouldnt claim your expertise in economic history but thought you would be interested in this item that Chiefio sent me once


        This financial crash comes from Ancient Rome but it sounds remarkably like today’s quantatative easing.

      • Thanks, Tony. One of the fascinating things about economic history is that the laws of economics don’t change, irrespective of the social or historical context. A run on a bank in Roman times is just like a run on a bank today. A recession in Roman times works just like a recession today – and so on. Oh, and the repertoire of ‘solutions’ from politicians is also eerily familiar!

  31. Ex-Penn State president charged in Sandusky case

    HARRISBURG — Former Penn State president Graham Spanier led a “conspiracy of silence” that allowed the university’s long-time defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky to continue abusing boys for more than a decade, the state attorney general’s office said.

    The office charged Spanier, today with perjury, endangering the welfare of children, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

    If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum 39 years in prison.


    Spanier also presided over the Climategate whitewashinvestigation that “exonerated” Mann of wrongdoing.

  32. thisisnotgoodtogo

    Universities should make this easier on researchers. They should have a fill in the blanks type form:
    It was found that the ______ is unprecedented in at least the last ________..

  33. Pingback: Lessons in Resilience from Hurricane Sandy - NYTimes.com

  34. AGW theory underlying global warming fearmongering essentially amounts to nothing more now than hoping for a natural disaster and then point.

    Terence Corcoran gets it: As gloom descended over the warmist camps across the continent, their overheated claims flickering dimly like dying campfires, their cause lost, there suddenly rose in the East a powerful force. Look! What’s that on the horizon? A mighty blast of good news! FRANKENSTORM!!!!!!!!!

  35. “America is growing more skilled – and getting better fast – at emergency response to disasters of growing geographical reach, cost, and complexity”

    And the proof of this is that New York can still run its annual Marathon only days after a major storm.

    Too bad about the hundreds of thousands without electricity, who are dumpster diving for food, have no heat, no flush toilets or gas for their cars.

    Now that’s progress.

  36. Willis Eschenbach

    Joshua | November 1, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Reply

    Here’s a lesson maybe we could learn from Sandy.

    Over the past months, I have read many a “skeptic” explain that public concern about climate change was dropping because of the public was seeing that claims from climate scientists were exaggerated, and thus the public had lost confidence in climate scientists. I was told that short-term weather patterns (a few cold winters) were proving to be the “last nail in the coffin” and the “last stake through the heart” of concern about AGW.

    Gosh, Joshua, that sounds terrible. Please provide citations to the two quotations in your story, so we can all be outraged … I’ll wait. Unless, of course, you just made up those quotes, in that case I won’t wait.


  37. Pingback: Dot Earth Blog: Lessons in Resilience from Hurricane Sandy : One Caribbean Radio | The Global Mix

  38. Joshua wrote “What makes me a “warmist?” Can you identify some belief that I have that puts me into that category?”

    Joshua, Candidly, I’ve not heard you come out and identify yourself as such, so fair enough. Before i try to answer let me just say that I don’t have any personal antipathy toward you. I’m basically a friendly guy and I’m guessing we’d get along well over a few beers. I respond negatively toward some of your posts because they come across as slightly nasty, and often have an air of annoying condescension. Who knows? Perhaps they bother me because I’m aware of these tendencies in myself.

    I suppose I’m making the inference as to your being a warmist based on the fact that a fair portion of your posts express not only disagreement, but often outright contempt not only for skeptical arguments, but for skeptics themselves, as indicated by your annoying habit of putting the word in quotation marks.

    Or perhaps it’s the joy you seem to take in events or arguments or even statements that in your eyes, somehow weaken the skeptical case…or better yet (again in your eyes) discomfit or even embarrass them. I well remember that you were quite over the moon the day our host asserted that co2 is certainly, or virtually certainly…warming the atmosphere to one degree or another. I guess you forgot that most skeptics do not disagree with that.

    Or perhaps it’s that I’ve never read a single comment of yours that expressed serious doubts as to the fundamental premise that adding man made Co2 to the atmosphere will eventually lead to bad things with respect to the climate. Now don’t jump down my throat, I truthfully read perhaps 2 percent of your comments, and even then tend to skim in order to prevent my aging brain from exploding, so it’s possible I missed some.

    So let me stop and turn this around. Do you not consider yourself a warmists as that term has generally come to be used?If not, that would interest be greatly and I’d like to hear about it.


    • PG –

      Joshua, Candidly, I’ve not heard you come out and identify yourself as such, so fair enough. I suppose I’m making the inference as to your being a warmist based on the fact that a fair portion of your posts express not only disagreement, but often outright contempt not only for skeptical arguments, but for skeptics themselves, as indicated by your annoying habit of putting the word in quotation marks.

      So, in other words, you have formulated a conclusion without sufficient evidence. That was my point.

      I don’t think I have any contempt or antipathy for “skeptics.” I am interested in the phenomenon of motivated reasoning and I do admit I don’t like people misappropriating skepticism. I like poking fun at “skeptics.” I use the term in quotes to indicate a putative meaning – just as I do with “realist.” I use terms these groups use to call themselves and use the quotes to indicate that just because that’s how they view themselves, that is not necessarily how I view them.

      I respond negatively toward some of your posts because they come across as slightly nasty, and often have an air of annoying condescension.

      Yeah – I can see why it might come across that way. Sometimes I try to control for that tone, and sometimes not. I don’t think it is particularly important either way. I’m must some dude writing comments on the internet. People take this stuff waaaaaaaaaay too seriously.

      Or perhaps it’s the joy you seem to take in events or arguments or even statements that in your eyes, somehow weaken the skeptical case…or better yet (again in your eyes) discomfit or even embarrass them.

      It isn’t the skeptical case I like poking holes in – it is the “skeptical” case.

      I well remember that you were quite over the moon the day our host asserted that co2 is certainly, or virtually certainly…warming the atmosphere to one degree or another. I guess you forgot that most skeptics do not disagree with that.

      I have written about this many times. I see it often claimed that most “skeptics” do not disagree with that – however, I think that generalization is: (1) in contrast to the oft read claim that “skeptics” can not fairly be generalized and, (2) in contrast direct or indirect contrast to many of the arguments I read “skeptics’ make. My focus is on those inconsistencies because I think they are, essentially, the meat of the debate and the root of the evidence of motivated reasoning.

      Or perhaps it’s that I’ve never read a single comment of yours that expressed serious doubts as to the fundamental premise that adding man made Co2 to the atmosphere will eventually lead to bad things with respect to the climate.

      I take seriously what so many people with great expertise have to say. I think that conspiratorial explanations for what they say are theoretically possible, but not particularly plausible. I take it as a matter of faith that climate scientists are subject to motivated reasoning – we all are. It would be unskeptical to assume otherwise. There is serious doubt in the iconic IPCC statement of attribution. My guess is that statement may well underestimate uncertainties – it would only be consistent with a belief in motivated reasoning. That is why I take Judith’s approach to quantifying uncertainty seriously, even if I think that she is not particularly open to explore the influences of motivated reasoning in her own advocacy.

      Now don’t jump down my throat, I truthfully read perhaps 2 percent of your comments, and even then tend to skim in order to prevent my aging brain from exploding, so it’s possible I missed some.

      Obviously, I have no way of estimating how much or how many of my posts you read. However, I am quite sure that if you looked back over the past couple of months, you would find that a surprisingly high % of your comments at Climate Etc. are either directed in response to one of my posts, or focused on discussion of what I have written or tend to write. As such, I’m skeptical about your 2% figure. But I am thankful that if your estimate is correct, you take the time out of your day to devote at least that much attention to what I write.

      So let me stop and turn this around. Do you not consider yourself a warmists as that term has generally come to be used?If not, that would interest be greatly and I’d like to hear about it.

      Nope – I can’t really answer that question without more from you about what you think that term has come to generally mean,, but I’d w/o that information I’d have to say that I am not a “warmist” as that term has generally come to be used. I think that I provided some clarification above. Let me know if you’d like more clarification – perhaps you might ask some specific questions. Clarifying supporting information before drawing conclusions might help you from making the mistakes of a “skeptic” as you have done.

  39. Willis Eschenbach

    The recent Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday articles and many commenters here amply support Joshua’s remarks. For example. Nit-picking.

  40. Faustino asks , November 1 @7.07 pm:

    ‘Does anyone know the purpose of the UN?’

    United Nations! Makes me think of
    Umberto Eco’s ‘Name of the Rose.’
    The rustling of cardinals’ silk
    And whisperings in the corridors
    Of power, of far-flung authority, of
    Indulgences penned by industrious scribes
    Inside the stone-walled hive. While
    On the slopes outside,
    Peasants scrabble
    For scraps from the priests’ table.

    In the corridors of the United Nations’
    General Assembly, a favoured few,
    Silk shirts, Amarni suits,
    Ponder discreetly,
    Subtle extension of their global governance
    By treaties and indulgences,
    Twenty thousand Millenium Goals transcribed
    By twenty thousand employees
    Within the glass-walled hive.
    Cui bono?

  41. In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that ‘the standard
    of living in progressive countries 100 years hence will be
    between four times and eight times as high as it is today.’*

    Though Keynes underestimated the part played by market forces
    of entrepreneurship and risk taking in this four to eight – fold
    growth increase, he came very close to the national per capita
    growth rates of GDP for the period from 1929 to 2006. .

    Wealthy, adaptable economies are better able to face unknowns
    than moribund economies. Purveyors of man made climate crises,
    like the UN and the IPCC, conveniently hype the illusion that
    extending government controls and government spending can
    and should save us when things hot up, ( or cool down? )
    ‘an illusion bound up in a view of life consisting not of opportunities
    to be welcomed but of dangers to be avoided.’ *

    Cui bono? Why, UN and iPCC Idealogues and receivers of
    Indulgences of course. Time fer them ter go )

    * Cited by Henry Ergas In Quadrant, (October 2009,) ‘The Fate of Progress.’


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