You knew it would happen: Sandy gins up climate change lobby

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: November 2, 2012
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NEVER let a natural disaster go to waste.

Even before Hurricane Sandy slammed the Northeast, tweeters and bloggers and pundits — oh my! — engaged in rank speculation about the superstorm's ties to climate change. Now the speculation is going mainstream.

Bound to happen. Global warming zealots never waste a chance to exploit tragic events for political gain. Superstorms have hit the Northeast a number of times since records started being kept. They hit the area countless times before record-keeping began. If global warming was to blame then, it wasn't caused by coal-fired power plants.

“It's Global Warming, Stupid” was the headline used by Bloomberg Businessweek to exploit Sandy. “Our cover story this week may generate controversy,” editor Josh Tyrangiel wrote, “but only among the stupid.”

Only among the arrogant elite can such speculation be stated as scientific fact by people who wouldn't know a mesocyclone from mesothelioma. Bloomberg's namesake, who happens to be mayor of New York City, also got into the act — as did New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The usual pattern following a Sandy-like event is to note its ferocity and uniqueness, link it to climate change and then link that to human activity.

Human activity is indeed a factor in the devastation. The greater the number of people who live in coastal areas and the more expensive the property in those areas, the higher the death toll and property damage from superstorms.

“Public discussion of disasters risks being taken over by the climate lobby and its allies, who exploit every extreme event to argue for action on energy policy,” Roger Pielke Jr. wrote Thursday in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal. Pielke is a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, which isn't a hotbed of conservative academic views. Pielke argues rationally that storms must be kept in perspective and exposure to storms must be managed.

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