Sandy’s wake-up call

Written By: - Date published: 9:34 am, October 31st, 2012 - 33 comments
Categories: climate change, disaster, us politics - Tags: , ,

I’m sure that the thoughts and condolences of Kiwis are with all those in the North American region who have been affected by Sandy, particularly those who have lost family and friends. Like many, I have friends and colleagues in New York and New Jersey who were directly in the storm’s path, and are currently dealing with the aftermath. All the best from far off NZ.

If any good can ever be said to come from a natural disaster, then let the good of Sandy be its function as a clear and present wake up call.

It has been bizarre watching the American presidential campaign unfold, all the while studiously ignoring the elephant in the room – climate change, and the unsustainability of our current “Western life-style”. The environment and climate change didn’t feature in any of the presidential debates, and hasn’t been mentioned in either presidential campaign, because neither candidate wants to confront the issue. Like the government of New Zealand, they have abdicated their responsibility, sweeping climate change under the “too hard” carpet, leaving the world firmly on course for disaster.

By all rights Sandy will have ripped the “too hard” carpet away. Nature has inserted itself into American politics in the most dramatic possible way, and the most politically significant time. All those warnings of increased extreme weather events are now made shockingly real to the American people (and – like it or not – they still set the global political agenda).

It’s a crisis, and it’s an opportunity. Will America heed the wake up call? If it doesn’t, Sandy is just the beginning.

33 comments on “Sandy’s wake-up call”

  1. Peter 1

    I dunno. I’m pretty sure that the state of South Carolina recently legislated to deny climate change. I can just see the new president Mitt Romney doing the same.

  2. Anton 2

    It was interesting to hear Employers and Manufacturer’s Chief Executive Director Kim Campbell use Sandy as a distraction from criticisms of their lobbying for reducing worker’s rights. (about 5:55)

    • ianmac 2.1

      Be like telling people who had just lost 3 of their family in a car crash that it is pretty trivial compared to the Christchurch Earthquake, so they should stop feeling sad.

  3. BM 3

    And do what, trade carbon credits?

    • karol 3.1

      Power down – a whole new approach to living.

      • BM 3.1.1

        Never going to happen, any political party that pushes that line of thinking will be destroyed.

        The only thing that will make a difference is if a cleaner energy source is found until that happens it’s business as usual.

        • King Kong

          Just about right. Any political party that pushes that line whilst in power
          will be destroyed.

          Joke parties like the Greens do ok in opposition, picking up votes from the fag lefties attempting to salve their conscience. If they actually tried to pull this stuff in Government they would disappear before our eyes.

        • karol

          BAU?  Turkeys looking forward to Christmas.  Sometimes people need to work towards change, not just slavishly followng the MSM and popular media.

        • Draco T Bastard

          The only thing that will make a difference is if a cleaner energy source is found until that happens it’s business as usual.

          They already exist but the politicians and corporates are actively preventing us using them – especially the ones on the right of the political spectrum.

        • Jenny

          Never going to happen, any political party that pushes that line of thinking will be destroyed.



          Any political party that pushes that line of thinking will be invigorated.

          Winston Churchill said, “All I can promise you are blood, sweat, toil and tears”

          To his eternal honour Churchill delivered on that promise.
          \Churchill’s call to sacrifice was met, and all who have studied that history, conclude that the sacrifice, though huge, was worth it.

          • Jenny

            The first of the two candidates to start seriously talking about climate change will run away with the US election.

      • OneTrack 3.1.2

        You first. Show us how it should be done.

        • Jenny

          You first. Show us how it should be done


          From 1941 and America’s entry into the war to 1945 and the war’s conclusion, a total of 34, yes 34, private motor cars were manufactured in the USA.

          Almost overnight factories that had been churning out private automobiles by the million, switched to producing aircraft and and other equipment for the war effort.

          Millions who had previously been unemployed due to the great depression which was still ongoing, volunteered or where drafted into the fight.

          How is that relevant?


          51 percent of the demand, provided by 3.8 million large wind turbines (each rated at five megawatts) worldwide. Although that quantity may sound enormous, it is interesting to note that the world manufactures 73 million cars and light trucks every year. Another 40 percent of the power comes from photovoltaics and concentrated solar plants, with about 30 percent of the photovoltaic output from rooftop panels on homes and commercial buildings. About 89,000 photovoltaic and concentrated solar power plants, averaging 300 megawatts apiece, would be needed. Our mix also includes 900 hydroelectric stations worldwide, 70 percent of which are already in place.

          Today the maximum power consumed worldwide at any given moment is about 12.5 trillion watts (terawatts, or TW), according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency projects that in 2030 the world will require 16.9 TW of power as global population and living standards rise, with about 2.8 TW in the U.S. The mix of sources is similar to today’s, heavily dependent on fossil fuels. If, however, the planet were powered entirely by WWS, with no fossil-fuel or biomass combustion, an intriguing savings would occur. Global power demand would be only 11.5 TW, and U.S. demand would be 1.8 TW. That decline occurs because, in most cases, electrification is a more efficient way to use energy.

          Only about 0.8 percent of the wind base is installed today. The worldwide footprint of the 3.8 million turbines would be less than 50 square kilometers (smaller than Manhattan). When the needed spacing between them is figured, they would occupy about 1 percent of the earth’s land, but the empty space among turbines could be used for agriculture or ranching or as open land or ocean. The nonrooftop photovoltaics and concentrated solar plants would occupy about 0.33 percent of the planet’s land. Building such an extensive infrastructure will take time. But so did the current power plant network. And remember that if we stick with fossil fuels, demand by 2030 will rise to 16.9 TW, requiring about 13,000 large new coal plants, which themselves would occupy a lot more land, as would the mining to supply them.

          If we can make the effort to wage World War we can make the same effort to wage Climate Peace.

          All that is missing is the political will.

          What we need is a Climate Change Churchill

          Could Obama be that towering historical figure?

          Could Romney?
          (Don’t forget that Churchill came from the conservative rightwing side of the political spectrum and that the American version of Churchill, Roosevelt, was from within the fabulously rich ruling American elite.)

          • Jenny

            And all this with out even having to address all the completely profligate waste of energy that currently goes on. Like for instance, the lighting our city’s high rise buildings just so they can be cleaned at night. Not to mention all the electric billboard advertising displays that blaze all night. Sure it makes our cities visible from space, but what good is that if the planet underneath is unlivable.

  4. infused 4


    [lprent: I imagine that like this.. ]

  5. MrSmith 5

    I suspect Anthony that Sandy is just the beginning of a long learning curve for the states, we can only hope they wake up eventually, but of-course they will be calling it a once in a century storm I bet, so most people (except me) will be dead before the next one.

    Interesting how KK and BM like a lot of the x deniers are now cheering it’s now to hard, the world will end if we change the system (morons) instead they will happily carry on following fire engines.

    How long before they are saying it’s just to late now.

  6. MrSmith 6

    This quote from thread sort of sums it up.

    ‘groups like Heartland and people like Mr Harris. They want to make this an emotional issue because they can not argue the facts or the empirical metrics that have been developed. The want to suggest that life styles will be compromised, wallets lightened and that your children will end up walking in the bitter cold searching for a job.

    We need to concentrate on the facts, the details, the studies, the peer reviewed publications first and foremost. Once the issue is established as a reality that threatens our way of life and life itself, then and only then, will we have any traction with the lay-public; and once they see the reality, the future will be abundantly clear. We won’t have to put up billboards as everyone will already know what is in store for us. “

  7. Welcome to my nightmare.
    Nothing is going to stop what is now set in motion, we are living in the end times for humans.
    Power down will do nothing, there is only three clean energy sources

    The sun – the only clean way of converting sun energy into something humans can use is to grow something, nothing else has the energy payback.

    Wind – maybe the only ‘sustainable’ use is pushing wooden boats around the oceans or ye old dutch windmill ?

    Falling water – maybe the only ‘sustainable’ use is pushing a wooden boat down a river? …. dams silt up.

    Anything that has to be mined – oil, gas, rare earths (magnets) iron ore etc is UN sustainable, so any conversion of raw energy to a human friendly one eventually will run out, hence it can not be sustained.

    Simply to maintain our lifestyles, at even 10% of what they were in 2007-8 would eventually kill us. One dog eared rock divided by 7 billion cancer cells can only have one outcome, you are in Never Never Land to think any other way, it is as fucking obvious as John Key is an utter wanker 😉

    The ‘wake up call’ might have been when we rubbed 2 sticks together 10,000 years ago?

    We are as stupid as yeast, just not as useful.

    The petri dish is about to hit the floor.

    • Colonial Viper 7.1

      I think Greer has spelt out the possiblities for a few centuries worth of de-industrialising and scavange economy quite well.

    • Jenny 7.2

      A completely negative fact free Atack. How about some citations Robert

  8. Bob 8

    “All those warnings of increased extreme weather events are now made shockingly real to the American people” and “It’s a crisis, and it’s an opportunity. Will America heed the wake up call? If it doesn’t, Sandy is just the beginning”, there is a name for comments like that, Scaremongering.
    Same thing happened in 1991, George Clooney starred in a movie about it, only difference being that storm came close to landfall before moving back out to sea. What about the Nor’easter that hit in 1978, as people were worried temperatures (at that point) had fallen 0.4 deg C since 1938, or the Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962, I know, the Great Blizzard of 1888 which was the last time the NYSE was shut for 2 days, that had to have been climate change. These were all the same type of storm system.

    • MrSmith 8.1

      So there is No problem then Bob, as it’s happened before, Bob 20,000 years ago the sea levels around New Zealand were about 100 meters lower than today, things change Bob but not at there current speed, so when will it become a problem Bob when storms like this arrive every 5 years? 3 years? 6 months? the planet is heating up at an alarming rate and the consequences of this will see our age truly being called “the age of stupid”! we new there was a problem but chose to do nothing about it.

      • Bob 8.1.1

        Here you go MrSmith, this might help you sleep at night not worrying about breathing too heavily in case you contribute to Climate Change.
        While I agree we need to rain in our CO2 emmisions and find cleaner energy sources moving forward, I don’t agree with making comments like “All those warnings of increased extreme weather events are now made shockingly real to the American people” and “It’s a crisis, and it’s an opportunity. Will America heed the wake up call? If it doesn’t, Sandy is just the beginning”, this is akin to Ken Ring type predictions of earthquakes due to the lunar perigee.

        • MrSmith

          Bob started reading your link and got as far as here

          “As you will see, the science of global warming is far from ‘settled’.”

          Keep spreading the doubt Bob as its about all the skeptics have left, no science will ever be settled! Science works in probabilities.

          A couple of links for you on Spencer but my guess is you won’t read them:

          And comparing Ken Ring to anyone is disingenuous. This is a man who co wrote a book on reading cats paws.

        • MrSmith

          Surprise surprise Spencer is a Believer.

          In the book The Evolution Crisis, Spencer wrote, “I finally became convinced that the theory of creation actually had a much better scientific basis than the theory of evolution, for the creation model was actually better able to explain the physical and biological complexity in the world. […] Science has startled us with its many discoveries and advances, but it has hit a brick wall in its attempt to rid itself of the need for a creator and designer.”

          Believing isn’t thinking Bob.

  9. Jenny 9

    Business As Usual has received a punch to the solar plexus.

    As the election continues – Will both contenders for president of the USA try to brush it off?

    • Jenny 10.1

      It’s amazing Tom that to get a link that mentions of climate change you have to go to a story published not in a mainstream journal but in something called the Falls Church Newspress.

  10. Jenny 11

    This must be the greatest example of ‘self censorship in the history of the world.

    It is the most stunning thing about the whole Sandy megastorm. The complete and almost total self censorship practiced in all the main stream US media around any mention of the words Climate Change. This is the greatest example of ‘self censorship’ ever practiced by the media and the like of which the world has ever seen.

    However I don’t expect it to last. In my opinion it will only take one television station or one major newspaper to break ranks and the dam will burst. Not wanting to be the ones to miss out, everyone will want to get on board. Climate Change will be the issue of the millennium

    • Jenny 11.1

      Currently the biggest media story relating to Superstorm Sandy is not whether Sandy is an effect of Climate Change or not. No, the biggest story being debated at the moment is whether the New York Marathon will proceed or not.

      Whoo hoo

      What we need is a decent cartoonist to lampoon this idiocy. Just picture it, runners with numbers on their backs in lycra shorts jogging through the apocalypse.

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