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Speculating about an "October Surprise" has long been part-and-parcel of presidential elections.  International crises, domestic economic troubles, and unearthed scandalous events/behavior have all had their moments in the month before election day.  In 2012, we have a serious potential that the October Surprise will come from an unusual direction and a seemingly non-partisan actor: Mother Nature.

Along the East Coast, residents from Florida to Maine are dealing with the storm's impacts or watching Hurricane Sandy with an increasingly concerned eye.  Predications, at the moment, have a Northeast United States Sandy landfall for Halloween -- anywhere between the North Carolina coast to the Boston, MA, area.  And, there are mounting concerns that this could be a true Perfect Storm. Uncertainty as to whether, where, and how serious an impact ...

NOTE:  See Fish Out of Water's NHC: Hurricane Sandy likely to hit mid Atlantic - could be "Perfect Storm".

However, what we know is that 2012 has been a devastating year in terms of climate disruption damage -- floods, droughts, severe weather events, and otherwise around the globe. In the United States, heat waves with massive breaking of high temperature records, likely the hottest year on record, huge portions of the nation with drought, many floods, the shocking Derecho in the east, significant crop damage, and ...  While some wish to keep their heads in the sand in denial, we are seeing (sadly in real time) humanity's thumb on the scale and nature of otherwise "natural" events. Even without human-driven climate change, we would have rain and snow, droughts and floods, balmy days and hurricanes, and uncertainty in agricultural production.  What scientists are increasingly agreed on is that the amount of and extent of such extremes increase with mounting climate change, thus the term: climate disruption.

Sandy's low-pressure system is "highly unusual" (according to The Weather Channel) in terms of such low-pressure in the Northeast at this time of year.  "Unusual" is an increasingly heard term, it seems, from meteorologists amid mounting climate disruption.

In a quick review, the equation is simple: more climate heat = bigger storms.  Some indications of climate disruption links to Sandy:

There are several climate connections for Sandy:


In a Presidential election where the political parties' (and Presidential candidates) perspectives on science (climate science especially) could not be more starkly different, where the nation has seen significant impacts from climate disruption, where climate disruption events have strengthened Americans understanding of climate change and concerns over it, and where analytical work shows climate change discussion favors politicians on the side of science if they engage in discussing climate issues, the stunning climate silence has been deafening.

Is Mother Nature acting to shatter this silence?

Over at Politico, Andrew Restuccia speculated about this in an excellent article, Hurricane Sandy: The next climate wake-up call?

How's this for some election-year timing: The East Coast faces the real possibility of taking a battering next week from a “perfect storm” roaring in from the Atlantic — right at the tail end of a campaign in which President Barack Obama, Mitt Romney and their debate moderators have all drawn criticism for avoiding discussion of climate change.

The brewing, blustery mess could affect the same region that was already knocked around by this summer's derecho and soaked in 2011 by Hurricane Irene. And it could come just two months after Hurricane Isaac forced the GOP to cancel the first day of its convention in Tampa.

Sadly, rather than engaging in serious debate about the best paths forward for the United States in climate mitigation and climate disruption adaptation, the two candidates seemed to be in a competition during the debates as to merited the mantle as fossil fuels' best friend. (Note:  "Mr. Coal, Mr Gas, Mr Oil" Mitt won that fossil-foolish title in the second debate but President Obama made him work for it.)  As Restuccia quoted Brad Johnson,
“Sandy is yet another reminder that the candidates Climate Silence on Uncle Samshould stop competing over who can poison the weather faster with increased oil, gas and coal production.  If they fear that honesty about global warming could cost them votes, they should instead be more concerned that climate silence costs lives.”
Let us all hope that Sandy will divert from off the coast and, if there is landfall, that Sandy does not cause significant damage or add additional loss of life to climate chaos' toll. No matter Sandy's physical path, however, we need to wonder whether the storm will impact the path of the 2012 Presidential election by (finally) crashing through the climate silence barrier.

Originally posted to Climate Change SOS on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 12:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by DK GreenRoots and Climate Hawks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The fear here is that it could be worse than Irene (11+ / 0-)

    I've been following it more closely as the hours go on, but if Sandy is anything like Irene, it could be a real mess in the DC area. Not sure if the Marine Corps Marathon will be rescheduled as a result, but it's supposed to flirt with the Chesapeake Bay by Monday morning. Hello storm surge and flooding (the Potomac River is rather flood prone, as Isabel proved, for those who don't know.)

    Temperatures in the Sargasso Sea are about 5 degrees F above normal, which could churn out some more violence from Sandy.

    The negligence on climate change issues through the campaign has also been disturbing, indeed. It reached 80 degrees here yesterday. Normally, it should be trending well into the 50s by now.

    "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

    by rovertheoctopus on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 01:05:43 PM PDT

    •  Very weird ... (10+ / 0-)

      to be wearing shorts and feeling hot in DC in late October.  

      Last evening, picking up (walking over to pick up) my son from soccer training, tried to engage a group of parents about the weirdness of the warmth and relation to climate change.  The general commentary was along the lines of "really weird" with "isn't it nice to have weather like this".  The absence of serious discussion from political leadership, studies have shown, help foster lack of serious thinking/concern. After all, if it mattered, wouldn't our political leadership be acting seriously.

      And, yes, just looking to my 'reserves' for battening down the hatches in face of a massive storm.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 01:09:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I live in Annapolis and I am just praying it does (4+ / 0-)

      not come up the bay, I well remember Isabel. And between Irene and that damned derecho, I've had about enough of hearing the enormous, ancient trees that surround my house crashing down. I'm seriously considering riding the storm out at my parent's house in Baltimore Co. We actually didn't lose power there during Irene.

      "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We must put our hands on it and we must bend it in the direction of justice." MLK

      by mindara on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 02:00:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I was in Maine during Irene (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mindara, Jakkalbessie, FarWestGirl, G2geek

        Man, did that one really mess up plans. It was better that it happened at the end of my stay there, but I couldn't get a flight out of Boston for about two days, because Logan Airport was shut down (runways were submerged in water.) Irene didn't cause much serious damage in Maine, but it was still sort of haunting to see the trees flutter and bend so gently so far north. Vermont however...

        "Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell." ~Edward Abbey ////\\\\ "To be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships." ~W.E.B. DuBois

        by rovertheoctopus on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 03:19:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I know, we totally lucked out here with Irene (4+ / 0-)

          down, electricity out for a couple of days but it hit at low tide and stayed off our ocean coast. Isabel in 2003 was just a tropical storm but it came straight up the bay at high tide. It was devastating.

          I know that Irene hit much harder north of us and I'm hoping for the best for all of us.

          "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We must put our hands on it and we must bend it in the direction of justice." MLK

          by mindara on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 03:52:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This following the highly unusual (5+ / 0-)

    Halloween Snowstorm we had last year which appears to be a year shy one day from when Sandy is expected.

    Which followed the highly unusual Hurricane Irene we got hammered by up here in the mountains of upstate New York which continued on to devastate that well-known tropical storm center of central Vermont.

    In between we had the slightly less unusual Tropical Storm Lee which dumped copious amounts of water on our already Irene drenched landscape.

    So yeah, I'm spending this weekend preparing for the worst with Sandy. Me and my mountain life might be getting used to being a tropical storm center.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 01:14:26 PM PDT

  •  I Kick Myself I Didn't Take More Pics (5+ / 0-)

    of what a drought looks like. I live in a place in this country where we grow most of the food we eat. Heck this is the view outside of my front door.

    winter_wheat

    Corn, winter wheat, and soy beans for as far as the eyes can see. It didn't rain much. There was a 12 day period where it was 110 plus. It gets hot here in southern IL, but nothing like that.

    The crops where literally dieing.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 01:15:07 PM PDT

  •  yes and no (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Canella, FarWestGirl, G2geek

    the meteorological situation that will lead to Sandy's path into the mid-atlantic and northeast has happened many times in the past, just not during the "everyone has the internet" era, so this is a new experience for many people.

    the rest definitely has a human influence from the sea surface temperatures to the rising sea levels.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 01:15:28 PM PDT

    •  Not usually this late in the year (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jakkalbessie, FarWestGirl, G2geek

      which is the key point. Water temps up here ought to be cold enough to break down a tropical storm well before it gets here. Also, and this part I am taking their word for it, the blocking high that is likely to cause Sandy back to the coast instead of allowing it to go out to sea is something they are starting to see more of and again I gather later in the year then would be expected.

      Believe me when I say that I have never had a tropical storm in the mountains of upstate New York in late October before... before or after the internet. :)

      "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

      by Andrew C White on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 01:19:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And "yes and no" from the diary (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jakkalbessie, FarWestGirl, G2geek
      Even without human-driven climate change, we would have rain and snow, droughts and floods, balmy days and hurricanes, and uncertainty in agricultural production.  What scientists are increasingly agreed on is that the amount of and extent of such extremes increase with mounting climate change, thus the term: climate disruption.

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 01:55:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  the wingnuts will just say (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    it's God's punishment of the damned liberals.

  •  Devastating storms, floods and droughts (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Steve Canella, A Siegel, Jakkalbessie

    it seems, are the only things that will awaken a complacent public to the actual consequences of unbridled resource extraction.

    Because our government is, and our media are, largely determined by corporate interests, politicians can't take a committed stand on the issue without jeopardizing their careers.

    I'm afraid they are unlikely to change their ways until they are forced to do so, by disastrous circumstances and a seriously alarmed citizenry.

    "The pessimists may be right in the end but an optimist has a better time getting there" -- Samuel Clemons

    by native on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 02:31:16 PM PDT

  •  And here I am planning a trip (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel, G2geek

    to Delaware leaving haloween night.   Where I will be spending 3 days climbing on heavy machinery  in the middle of a square mile of open ground.  On land with enough clay in it, that after the storms last year, it was enough of a miasma, that it sucked a boot off.  

    Something doesn't like people hurling vegetables for charity it seems.  
     

    This planet needs a lot more kids who think taking a lawnmower apart is more fun than playing a videogame.

    by rjnerd on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 02:37:27 PM PDT

  •  Reinsurance Report on Weather Disaster Costs (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    A Siegel

    Press release on Munich RE report "Severe Weather in North America"
    http://www.munichre.com/...

    Munich RE's Geo Risks Research Group:
    http://www.munichre.com/...

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Thu Oct 25, 2012 at 05:32:28 PM PDT

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