How the 1 Percent conjured a monster storm
October 30, 2012
THAT HUMAN-induced climate change is part of the reason for Hurricane Sandy—the “largest hurricane in Atlantic history,” according to the Capital Weather Gang, as measured by the 1,040-mile diameter of its gale-force winds—is explained by Dr. Kevin E. Trenberth, a distinguished senior scientist in the climate analysis section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research:
The sea surface temperatures along the Atlantic coast have been running at over 3 degrees Celsius above normal for a region extending 800 kilometers offshore, all the way from Florida to Canada. Global warming contributes 0.6 degrees Celsius to this. With every 1 degree Celsius, the water-holding of the atmosphere goes up 7 percent, and the moisture provides fuel for the tropical storm, increases its intensity and magnifies the rainfall by double that amount compared with normal conditions.
Global climate change has contributed to the higher sea surface and ocean temperatures and a warmer and moister atmosphere, and its effects are in the range of 5 to 10 percent. Natural variability and weather has provided the perhaps optimal conditions of a hurricane running into extra-tropical conditions to make for a huge intense storm, enhanced by global warming influences.
As the climate continues to warm, the effect will only increase, leading to more extreme weather events, flooding and drought, as outlined in two recent Nature articles.
And warm it will. Not because we don’t have answers to prevent that from happening and derive our energy from sources other than fossil fuels, but because it’s simply too profitable to change. There is a compulsion inherent to capitalism; the propellant force of profit that powers further growth in a perpetual feedback loop, whereby the colossal forces of production are testing the limits of the planet to absorb the battering its biosphere is taking.
Never has Karl Marx and Frederick Engels’ comment in the Communist Manifesto on the nature of capitalism been so apposite:
Modern bourgeois society, with its relations of production, of exchange and of property, a society that has conjured up such gigantic means of production and of exchange, is like the sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world whom he has called up by his spells.
At this point, as a thunderous storm barrels up the east coast of the United States—which still suffers from an unprecedented drought in other parts of the country—it seems indisputable that the capitalist system has put the entire web of life on a collision course with a stable biosphere and climate system. One of those systems has to give, and there is no indication that it will be capitalism.
To the extent that anything is being done internationally to address the inextricably intertwined ecological and social crises, the answer seems to be to hack down the last vestiges of humanity’s common heritage via the sword of privatization.
Read the full article here.
Images from The Other 98% facebook page and the Rising Tide North America facebook page.