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Climate: Discussions raging on possible links between global warming and superstorm Sandy

Hurricane Sandy bearing down on the East Coast. Satellite image courtesy NOAA.

Record-breaking storm spurs more public awareness about the potential for more frequent extreme weather events

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With several all-time weather records shattered and early estimates that Hurricane Sandy may cost the U.S. economy some $20 to $25 billion, it’s clear that the storm lived up to its billing. Along with the cleanup, there’s also a raging debate about whether global warming was a factor in the storm’s development and path.

On the one side, environmental activists seeking to limit heat-trapping greenhouse gases have jumped on the so-called super storm as an opportunity to tout their cause. On the other side, global warming deniers and others have pulled out timeworn statistics about past hurricanes that supposedly were equally as strong.

The arguments at the extreme sides of the spectrum don’t ring true. Of course, there is no way to scientifically prove that increases in air and ocean temps directly contributed to this storm. There’s still so much natural variability in nature that you just can’t establish a causal link. Continue reading

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