Bill McKibben’s ‘Tabloid Climatology’ claims about Sandy are easily debunked

McKibben must have set some sort of record for the number of absolute lies in a single paragraph in this LA Times story:

It’s time for fossil fuel companies to do the right thing – latimes.com

Sandy was off-the-charts terrible, a storm that broke every record in the books: for storm surge, for barometric pressure, for sheer size.

The reality of history blows his “off-the-charts terrible” claim right out of the water:

Deadliest World Tropical Cyclones | Weather Underground

1. Great Bhola Cyclone, Bangladesh 1970 Bay of Bengal 500,000 [deaths]
2. Hooghly River Cyclone, India and Bangladesh 1737 Bay of Bengal 300,000
3. Haiphong Typhoon, Vietnam 1881 West Pacific 300,000
3. Coringa, India 1839 Bay of Bengal 300,000
5. Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh 1584 Bay of Bengal 200,000
6. Great Backerganj Cyclone, Bangladesh 1876 Bay of Bengal 200,000
7. Chittagong, Bangladesh 1897 Bay of Bengal 175,000
8. Super Typhoon Nina, China 1975 West Pacific 171,000
9. Cyclone 02B, Bangladesh 1991 Bay of Bengal 140,000
9. Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar 2008 Bay of Bengal 140,000
11. Great Bombay Cyclone, India 1882 Arabian Sea 100,000

h/t to Tom Nelson

For the USA, the Galveston Hurricane in 1900 could be described as “off the charts terrible”:

On September 8, 1900, a hurricane struck Galveston. Winds estimated at 140 mph swept over the island, leaving devastation in their wake. After the storm surge of 15.7 feet subsided, Galvestonians left their shelters to find 6,000 of the city’s 37,000 residents dead and more than 3,600 buildings totally destroyed.

The 1900 Storm is still considered to be the deadliest natural disaster in U.S. history. After the storm, Galveston constructed a seawall and raised the grade of the island to protect it from future hurricanes.

Now, set’s  look at the other three claims he made in detail:

for storm surge  – FALSE

The Bathurst Bay Cyclone, also known as Tropical Cyclone Mahina, which struck Bathurst Bay, Australia on March 5, 1899, is generally credited with the world record for storm surge. The cyclone’s storm surge is variously listed at 13 – 14.6 meters (43 – 48 feet). The Category 5 cyclone was a monster–with sustained winds in excess of 175 mph and a central pressure between 880 and 914 mb. Mahina killed at least 307 people, mostly on pearling ships, and was the deadliest cyclone in Australian history. The eyewitness account of Mahina’s record storm surge was provided by Constable J. M. Kenny, who journeyed to Barrow Point on Bathurst Bay to investigate a crime on the day of the storm. While camped on a ridge 40 feet above sea level and 1/2 mile inland, Kenny’s camp was inundated by a storm wave, reaching waist-deep. On nearby Flinders Island, fish and dolphins were found on top of 15 meter (49 foot) cliffs. However, an analysis by Nott and Hayne (2000) found no evidence of storm-deposited debris higher than 3 – 5 meters above mean sea level in the region. They also cited two computer storm surge simulations of the cyclone that were unable to generate a surge higher than three meters.

Source: http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/surge_world_records.asp

for barometric pressure  - FALSE

Hurricane Sandy had the lowest pressure ever recorded for any storm north of North Carolina at 943 millibars just before it came in from the sea on Monday afternoon and hit the New Jersey coast, however, it remained at the weakest level of hurricane throughout its tempestuous tirade through over 1,000 square miles of land.

Most intense Atlantic hurricanes
Rank Hurricane Season Pressure
hPa inHg
1 Wilma 2005 882 26.0
2 Gilbert 1988 888 26.2
3 “Labor Day” 1935 892 26.3
4 Rita 2005 895 26.4
5 Allen 1980 899 26.5
6 Katrina 2005 902 26.6
7 Camille 1969 905 26.7
Mitch 1998 905 26.7
Dean 2007 905 26.7
10 “Cuba” 1924 910 26.9
Ivan 2004 910 26.9
Source: HURDAT

Source: National Hurricane Center National Hurricane Center; Hurricane Research Division; Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (April 2012). “Atlantic hurricane best track (Hurdat)”. United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research. Retrieved 2012-04-19.and The Examiner

for sheer size - possibly true, but only during the satellite record*

Below are the five largest hurricanes (by gale diameter) ever observed in the Atlantic basin.

Known Atlantic hurricanes with gale diameter of 750 miles
Storm Season Diameter
(mi) (km)
Sandy 2012 945 1,520
Igor 2010 920 1,480
Olga 2001 865 1,390
Lili 1996 805 1,295
Karl 2004 780 1,255
Sources:[1], [2], [3], [4]

* The satellite record only extends past TIROS1, launched in 1960. Prior to that, there was no way to gauge the diameter of hurricanes. Wind measurement transects to determine the breadth of gale diameter is also a recent technological innovation, hence the list is skewed to present day technology measurements.

As far as most intense hurricanes, here is the list, and Sandy isn’t in the top ten. But, that won’t stop emotional political activists like Bill McKibben from making false claims without looking at the real data first. He simply doesn’t care.

 

About these ads

53 thoughts on “Bill McKibben’s ‘Tabloid Climatology’ claims about Sandy are easily debunked

  1. There is often very little truth in propaganda and plus it looks like Obama’s win has made the loonies braver…

  2. They say the toughest market for any professional sports player is NY. Because the media is there. Sandy was not that bad of a storm, but the media is there. The cost is simply a function of the fact that there is more to lose there (how many high rises in Biloxi Mississippi?). In real terms, Sandy is just another weak storm. The carping comes from spoiled children that want their wants when they want them. And not adults looking to rebuild and get on with their lives.

  3. I wrote earlier on the upside down flag article climate change is just beginning. None of this stuff here detracts from the obvious climate change legislation yet to come with a new Obama administration, believe me. Sandy is not some storm that happened to someone else; Sandy happened around an election gaining the highest possible profile and then combine that with New York and New Jersey facts mean nothing. That isn’t what’s in the news – death, destruction, and devastation in the heart of the motherland leads. Romney tried facts and lost. That doesn’t sell in America. But, if you were to ask what New York and New Jersey miss most – gas, lights, and power. Well, none of them are getting that without oil. Go figure. But, many said they voted for Obama because he was doing something about climate change – this is just beginning. And that was one heck of storm that late in the season – those in New York and New Jersey know that better then the rest of us do. I’m afraid all of our recent gains are being wiped out by Sandy in one day. Like MSNBC Chris Matthews said, he’s glad hurricane Sandy came along. He said that allowed Obama to get the traction he needed when he needed it. Go figure.

  4. I could be wrong (and please feel free to correct me) but I believe the gale diameter ranking only extends back to 1988. See:

    http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/research/tropical_cyclones/tc_extended_best_track_dataset/

    I would also question this sentence:
    “Below are the five largest hurricanes (by gale diameter) ever observed in the Atlantic basin.”

    The storms, some of them immense and powerful, of the early to mid-20th century do not have a gale diameter measurement, but I doubt that they went unobserved.

  5. The problem is that McKibben and his ilk get quoted in the MSM and WUWT contributers and kindred thinkers don’t.
    And I haven’t the foggiest notion about how to correct this imbalance in reporting; but until it is corrected we are all shoveling s**t up hill.

  6. The problem is, simply put, his article will be read and referred to – thanks to the media – by several millions of the public as well as the handful in charge of the country. This well written and complete rebuttal will be read only by the relative few who frequent WUWT. The truth, in many areas, is buried by the sheer volume of lies.

  7. You have to place the storm in its context, and that context is the place where it occurred. The fact that it hit so far North, as opposed to the usual southern coastlines, is what is giving Sandy its political clout.

    If Bill McKibben had decided to conjure up a storm for his own propaganda purposes, he could hardly have done better than conjure up a Sandy. It was big. It was a “frankenstorm” (so someone at NASA said). It had a pretty low atmospheric pressure and that did cause a pretty big storm surge.

    We can’t simply wave this away by citing the past. The damage has been done (politically) and the best counter is to explain that such events will always occur regardless. Was the atlantic warmer than usual? If so, is this the result of AGW or part of the 60 year AMO cycle.

    Crucially though, the point must be made that these are random events and they are the result of other random events that combine in random ways. When events are so combined, there will be occasions when they combine in the worst possible way. And there will be occasions when their combinations almost cancel out each others effect.

    In the world of probabilistic mathematics, another Sandy is guaranteed, whatever the current weather. But I would be the first to admit, it is not an easy message to get accross.

  8. Everything BmK says is founded on a lie or speculation based on selected factoids taken out of context and turned into fiction. Any fool can take a piece of information or thought and extrapolate it into an absurdly calamitous scenario, and he’s the biggest fool out, but unfortunately, so are the MSM, without whom he would be nothing, and shown to be the fool he is.

    Those who stand up for scientific truth against these lies have to win the MSM mindset battle, and the likely demise of Michael Mann will hopefully accelerate the process.

  9. McKibben’s and the other warmists depends on keeping the scare alive. If one million people froze to death this winter they would still blame it on CO2-caused climate disruption.

    Obama has shown the world that stupid lies DO work.

  10. It is time for the fossil fuel companies to do the right thing. Send more gasoline to those areas hardest hit. People are still without power eleven days after the storm.

  11. @ Algebra

    If Andrew Cuomo would remove the anti-gouging laws, the oil companies would already be doing that. But he entertains some notion that by price-fixing the market, he is taking the common man’s side.

  12. One thing this proves to me is I’d much rather live on the New Jersey shore than the Bay of Bengal.

    Perhaps the IPCC could be induced to hold their next climate alarmfest there?

  13. Hmmmm. Might I suggest a storm ranking based not just on individual factors but on a combination of size and ferocity.

    It’s to easy to game the comparisons if you compare just size by itself or compare just storm surge by itself or just barometric pressure by itself. That’s because its not valid to compare a very localized but intense storm with a very distributed but weak storm.

    The better and commonly used comparison is storm energy. Any one want to bet that Bill McKibben was referring to a layman’s description of storm energy? And that his records referred to the USA and not the whole world?

  14. The really scary thing is that BmK may well have Obama’s ear. If so, America is in serious trouble.

    The “If I wanted America to fail” video script (well worth watching, on YouTube somewhere) could have been written for him, it describes him exactly.

  15. LazyTeenager says:
    November 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm
    “The better and commonly used comparison is storm energy. Any one want to bet that Bill McKibben was referring to a layman’s description of storm energy? And that his records referred to the USA and not the whole world?”

    Don’t make me laugh. You think McKibben used actual numbers? He wouldn’t know a number if it flew up his nose and died there. He’s a journalist.

  16. Attn. Anthony–You left this list out, at the end of your article:

    “As far as most intense hurricanes, here is the list, and Sandy isn’t in the top ten.”

  17. Vince Causey says:
    November 9, 2012 at 12:41 pm

    Crucially though, the point must be made that these are random events and they are the result of other random events that combine in random ways. When events are so combined, there will be occasions when they combine in the worst possible way. And there will be occasions when their combinations almost cancel out each others effect.

    In the world of probabilistic mathematics, another Sandy is guaranteed, whatever the current weather. But I would be the first to admit, it is not an easy message to get across.

    The best quick counterpoint is to state that the alarmism over what Sandy portends is a rerun of the alarmism over what Katrina portended six years ago. Those portents were a bust, which portends that these will be too.

  18. Sandy produced underground parking garage flooding, as well as subway flooding. Could some of this flooding have been prevented or minimized with flood barriers? The following link from http://floodbreak.com/
    describes an automatic floodwall that was installed in front of a Great Neck NY underground parking garage to prevent repetitive flooding incidents. This link includes a demonstration plus successful operation to protect the garage:.

    http://floodbreak.com/floodbreak-vehicle-gate-deployed-automatically-to-save-garage-from-overnight-street-flooding/#more-241

    YouTube demo and flood incident here:

  19. Ah, Hurricane Gilbert. Rode it out in Cozumel, MX — Wow – what a blow.
    Let’s hear it for reinforced concrete buildings, with a concrete roof.

  20. The fellow deserves a “Little Willie” poem, such as,

    “Willie saw some dynamite,
    Couldn’t understand it quite;
    Curiosity never pays:
    It rained Willie seven days.”

    (From “Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes.” Edward Gorey. Roughly 1903.)

  21. LazyTeenager says:

    November 9, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    “Hmmmm. Might I suggest a storm ranking based not just on individual factors but on a combination of size and ferocity. “……….
    ===================
    She has washed mountain ranges into the Ocean.

  22. Bill McKibben, feeling clever,
    Calls Sandy, “The far worst storm ever.”
    History shows other wise
    But Bill ain’t like us other guys.

    Bill McKibben, feeling smart,
    Seeks to touch the bleeding heart
    And milk the mush-brained liberal sorts
    By writing third-grade book reports.

    Bill McKibben, Harvard man,
    Chops Veritas up in a fan
    ‘Cos when he needs to make a buck
    Truth aint worth a flying (snip)

    Billy died and went up high
    And met Saint Peter in the sky
    And Peter said, “Hey Bill, will you
    Now tell the truth, for truth is due.”

    Billy, facing old Saint Peter
    Admitted that not one lone meter
    Had seas risen. Peter, storming,
    Said, “I’ll show you some warming.”

  23. Joseph Bastardi says:
    November 9, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    The last word of the clip seen here describes the whole AGW Agenda

    SPOILER He say’s madness! :)

  24. I hope people will fortgive me for decending to “Little Willie” doggeral, but I could do worse. Since the election I have been plodding about muttering an amazing collection of profanities. I was quite unaware I even knew the words I have been uttering.

    I have never before been ashamed of my fellow Americans, but now I am. The liberals are always saying how they do everything, “for the children,” but they can not say it now. Our nation has chosen what can only lead to ruin for our children, and for what? A welfare check? A pension check? A government grant? Twenty pieces of silver?

    At some point in the old testiment the Hebrew State fell to a level of corruption where they sacrificed humans on hill-top alters. They sacrificed little children. It sounds pretty barbaric, but are we better?

    Vietmam was sad, because we sacrificed our youth to battle. But now we sacrifice them to our own lazy sloth and greed. We deny reality, because we want our money.

    Bill McKibben has all the gifts other writers yearn for, but he is a perfect example of someone who has abandoned Truth for a selfish cause. I’m sure he has all sorts of ways of excusing his abandonment of Truth to himself, but in his quiet moments he must know he is making mincemeat of Truth, No matter how big we may think our “cause” is, we all own a concience, and we all know when we distort Truth.

    Bill McKibben likely imagines he sees some “Ends” which justify his truth-slaughtering “Means,” however the fact of the matter is you cannot engineer a bridge that works if you don’t build the bridge on a foundation of facts. Truth does matter.

    If you try to build a bridge without facing the facts, the bridge will fall down. Your theory sounds lovely and sensible, but you wind up with a Solyndra. You spend a trillion on “green jobs” and wind up with no jobs and a huge debt for our children.

    I thought we had learned this, after four years of Obama’s nonsense. The prospect of four more years of such insanity fills me with dread.

    In the end, Truth will assert its power. Falsehood will result in so many bridges falling down that even McKibben himself will blush in shame, and slink in deep disgrace.

    Then it will be up to us to pick up the pieces and make the best of things. The long winter will end, and spring will come.

  25. Dennis Nikols, P. Geo. says:
    November 9, 2012 at 12:27 pm
    Can anyone explain to me why this clown is even being read by anyone other then his mother?

    Does anyone have his mothers address, I will write to her and ask the question.

  26. The responses in that article are pretty encouraging. It seems that those directly affected by Sandy are well aware of what it actually was, and McKittens seems to be a suitable source of mockery.

  27. “Algebra says:

    November 9, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    It is time for the fossil fuel companies to do the right thing. Send more gasoline to those areas hardest hit. People are still without power eleven days after the storm.

    No.It is time for the people to tell the unions to go screw themselves.Do you know guys and gals cutting down trees and trying to clean up are being told by the cops to bugger off and stop doing this?Only unions can do this clean up,because of “safety” etc.

  28. Re super cyclones – this is relevant:

    Here is an Australian report showing we should expect a ‘super-cyclone’ every 200 to 300 years, not once every several thousand years as previously suspected.

    Now, Europeans have only been recording such things in Australia for 200 years or so… so we are really not sure when the next one is due.

    But when it comes along I am sure it will be blamed on AGW.

    High frequency of ‘super-cyclones’ along the Great Barrier Reef over the past 5,000 years.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v413/n6855/full/413508a0.html

    Here we determine the intensity of prehistoric tropical cyclones over the past 5,000 years from ridges of detrital coral and shell deposited above highest tide and terraces that have been eroded into coarse-grained alluvial fan deposits.

    …… We infer that the deposits were formed by storms with recurrence intervals of two to three centuries and we show that the cyclones responsible must have been of extreme intensity (central pressures less than 920 hPa).

    Our estimate of the frequency of such ‘super-cyclones’ is an order of magnitude higher than that previously estimated (which was once every several millennia..).

  29. It should be obvious to anyone or at least concerning if you believed something was true, yet found out many lies in trying to support it?

    For anybody that should cause great concerns why all this lying?

    Well lying occurs when ones theory or conjecture is repeatedly falsified, so to try and turn this around with desperation lying is the only incorrect alternative to sideline from the truth. They are lying to you so what are you going to do about it?

    It is so obvious that the AGW scare scientifically is dead, how long will it take until you realise this? In politics the desperation from some also gets louder and louder as the months fly by.

  30. Good catch, this. I assumed people would understand from the context I was writing about the northeast–since I’ve written extensively about the horror of storms in places like Bangladesh, I figured people would know that storms in the tropics can get even bigger. But as people here make clear, I shouldn’t have assumed. Thanks for the reminder–bill

  31. bill mckibben says: November 10, 2012 at 7:33 am

    “…. I assumed people would understand from the context I was writing about the northeast….”

    Really Bill, you are happy to hang your hat on this one storm?

    And, for give me if I am wrong, but do you think the fact that 70% of the USA corn crop is going into ethanol production will be having any effect on world grain prices, and that this effect may be exacerbated in times of drought?

    It was a year that already had seen a summer-in-March heat wave described by meteorologists as the most statistically freakish weather event in the continent’s history, an epic drought that raised grain prices 40% around the world and a record-setting melt of Arctic ice.

    It was a year in which scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who couldn’t take the subway to their Manhattan offices in the days following Sandy, calculated that the 1-degree rise in global temperature we’ve already seen has raised the chance of extreme heat events by an order of magnitude.

  32. There are rumors (denied by the White House, but you know what that’s worth) that Obama is going to try to get a ‘carbon’ tax passed. All of this McKibbenesque propaganda is going to be grist for that mill, which the enviro-whackos in the Administration can use to feed a recalcitrant Congress. It’s all about revenue, of course, but in the process great harm will continue to befall the spirit of scientific inquiry, led by the faux-science Alarmist clique at NASA.

    Here we have this smug McKibben reading WUWT and even making comments, as if he had something of value to contribute. Well, Bill, how about giving us one jot or tittle of evidence that anthropogenic CO2 has anything at all to do with the Earth’s many climates, much less with weather? I won’t hold my breath.

    /Mr Lynn

  33. It’s been my experience that people on the Left will lie, cheat and steal to get what they want. People like McKibben make it a no-brainer to vote for Republicans.

  34. It is perfectly true that Sandy wasn’t really due to global warming nor is it the worst one on record, and it follows a period of perhaps unusually calm hurricane activity. However, lads, we’ve lost the argument on this one. The warmists have been able to exploit this one to the full, and it has gone down in the public imagination both in the US and the world as global warming. We’ve got another long hard fight to overcome this defeat, if we ever will. So expect massive Federal spending on futile environmental projects and for the Federal government to try to strangle coal and shale gas projects.

Comments are closed.