Australia’s Climate Commission Caught Out Hyping Superstorm Sandy

Posted on Sat 11/03/2012 by


By Andrew Bolt ~

The Climate Commission’s spinning and exaggerations have been shameful, but this sets a new low:

AUSTRALIA’S Climate Commission has misrepresented data from the leading US meteorological bureau to highlight a link between climate change and the severity of Superstorm Sandy which this week crippled New York.

In a statement on the disaster that hit North America on Monday, the federal government-sponsored Climate Commission said “all the evidence suggests that climate change exacerbated the severity of Hurricane Sandy”.

Matthew England, chairman of the commission’s Science Advisory Panel, said … increased humidity, higher sea levels and warmer sea surface temperatures were all contributing to the severity of storms.

The commission quoted data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that “the temperature of the surface waters from which Sandy drew energy were three to five degrees warmer than average”.

However, senior NOAA climate scientist Martin Hoerling … said the unusually warm waters were in areas where the background temperature was relatively cool. “So adding a few degrees Fahrenheit at that cool water temperature doesn’t matter too much for the intensity of a hurricane,” Dr Hoerling said…

Late yesterday, Professor England conceded the sea-surface temperature highlighted in the Climate Commission document was not significant….

Dr Hoerling said … a storm surge at New York in 1821 was greater than that of Sandy. However, like the Climate Commission, he said rising sea levels could exacerbate the damage from big storms.

He said the record showed a rise in the total sea level of about 30cm over the past 150 years in New York.

But of course measurable man-made warming is argued to have occurred for less than half that period, and even militantly warmist scientists concede natural warming accounts for some of the rise even over the past three decades. So the contribution of man-made warming to that 30 centimetres would, even under global warming theory, be closer to 10cm – and quite probably less than.

If we can’t trust the Climate Commission to tell us the plain facts, why do we fund it? A million green groups will spread warmist hype for free.

So does Professor England get dragged to the re-education camp that Alan Jones was ordered to attend? Or is that kind of humiliation reserved only for sceptics?


A much straighter take from Professor Roger Pielke Jr, not a sceptic but luke-warmist professor of environmental studies at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder:

One of the more reasonable discussion points to emerge from efforts to link Hurricane Sandy to the need to reduce carbon dioxide emissions focuses on the role that future sea level rise will have on making storm impacts worse. Logically, it would seem that if we can “halt the rise of the seas” then this would reduce future impacts from extreme events like Sandy.

The science of sea level rise, however, tells us that our ability to halt he rise of the seas is extremely limited, even under an (unrealistically) aggressive scenario of emissions reduction. Several years ago, in a GRL paper titled “How much climate change can be avoided by mitigation?” Warren Washington and colleagues asked how much impact aggressive mitigation would have on the climate system. Specifically, they looked at a set of climate model runs assuming stabilization of carbon dioxide at 450 ppm.

Here is what they concluded for sea level rise:

[A]bout 8 cm of the sea level rise that would otherwise occur without mitigation would be averted. However, by the end of the century the sea level rise continues to increase and does not stabilize in both scenarios due to climate change commitment involving the thermal inertia of the oceans …

Eight cm is about three inches. Three inches. Then sea level rise continues for centuries.

Though it seems logical to call for emissions reductions as a way to arrest sea level rise to reduce the impacts of hurricanes, recent research suggests that our ability to halt the rise of the seas is extremely limited. With respect to hurricanes, we have little option but to adapt, and improved adaptation makes good sense.

Efforts to use future hurricane damages to justify emissions reductions just don’t make much sense.

Why couldn’t our Climate Commission admit as much?


And Sandy, far from being a sign of a dangerously changed climate, is an exception in a milder one:

To put things into even starker perspective, consider that from August 1954 through August 1955, the East Coast saw three different storms make landfall—Carol, Hazel and Diane—that in 2012 each would have caused about twice as much damage as Sandy.

While it’s hardly mentioned in the media, the U.S. is currently in an extended and intense hurricane “drought.” The last Category 3 or stronger storm to make landfall was Wilma in 2005. The more than seven years since then is the longest such span in over a century.

Why couldn’t the Climate Commission mention that, either?


Another thing the Climate Commission should note: tropical cyclones in our own region have not increased in intensity or number, contrary to warmist predictions. The Bureau of Meteorology has not updated this chart for a while, but the pattern since shows no change:

Andrew Bolt is a journalist and columnist writing for The Herald Sun in Melbourne Victoria Australia.

Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book  Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.

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