Global Warming and Hurricane Sandy

By Rusty Wright

Did global warming—human-induced climate change—cause or exacerbate Hurricane Sandy?

Al Gore says of course, and many agree.  Some scientists say we can’t be sure.  Other scientists discount a global warming/Sandy link.

Tragic Superstorm

The superstorm’s tragic wake of destruction stretches from the Caribbean to the northeastern US.  I sympathize with the victims and applaud their helpers.  My Miami youth taught me much about hurricanes’ fury.  In 1993, I spent a month back in my hometown volunteering with the Hurricane Andrew rebuilding effort.  Sandy’s aftermath brings daunting challenges.

But can the victims blame global warming?  When even scientific experts disagree, how do we decide?

I’m not a scientist, nor do I play one on television.  I didn’t even stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. 

However, I’ve read enough to know that there are credentialed scientists on both sides of the global-warming debate.  Of course, each side—including scientists and the divided public—could benefit at times from coaching on tact, diplomacy, humility, anger management and fact checking.  

Science Deniers?

But one thing about the debate particularly disturbs me: Human-induced-climate-change proponents often dismiss as “science deniers” those who believe that shifting climate patterns are generally cyclical and naturally induced or that human-induced warming is inconsequential. 

Certainly human-induced-climate-change dissent is a minority view, but its supporters are not necessarily without scientific credentials.  In fact, they include scientists from reputable institutions.  See, for instance, the New York Times profile of Harvard-educated MIT meteorology professor Richard Lindzen.

Even some global-warming heralds have moderated their views.  MSNBC reported that “James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his ‘Gaia’ theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being ‘alarmist’ about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too.”

A Considered Approach

So, as climate-change rhetoric heats up after Sandy, maybe it would be wise to step back, take a deep breath, have an honest look at the issues and evidence, then thoughtfully decide.  My brief 2010 comment, “Global Warming’s Glacial Blunder,” offers further support for taking a considered approach.

Rusty Wright is an author and lecturer who has spoken on six continents.  He holds Bachelor of Science (psychology) and Master of Theology degrees from Duke and Oxford universities, respectively.

Copyright © 2012 Rusty Wright

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Editors: Note pictures below.  Click on image to access image file. 

Former US Vice President Al Gore








MIT’s Richard Lindzen