Superstorm Sandy shows climate change isn't science fiction, top UN official says

November 13, 2012 by Rob Jordan

Helen Clark, the administrator of the United Nations Development Program, visited Stanford to set the stage for international climate talks taking place in Doha, Qatar, later this month.

"Until recently, climate change seemed like a science fiction scenario," Helen Clark told a Stanford audience recently.

Clark, the administrator of the United Nations Development Program and former prime minister of New Zealand, argued that a lack of coordinated global action on the issue is undermining efforts to alleviate . Climate change is damaging agriculture, driving up food prices, creating water insecurity, destroying coral reef fishing grounds and exposing millions to diseases such as diarrhea, dengue fever and malaria, she said.

Ahead of global climate negotiations set to begin in Doha, Qatar, later this month, Clark visited campus on the heels of Superstorm Sandy in the Eastern United States and a wave of worldwide. "It's not just a problem for small coastal regions in developing countries," she said.

Her Environmental Forum talk was co-sponsored by the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and Stanford's Program in Human Biology.

The Doha talks will be the 18th conference of the 192 signatory countries of the U.N. and the – the only internationally legally binding regulations on climate protection.

International discussion on the issues has tended to focus on the long term rather than the short term, and to underestimate the effect on poor populations, Clark said. Commitments such as developed countries' pledge to give $100 billion to an adaptation fund have fallen through.

Clark reviewed key areas: regular reviews of international climate actions planned and taken; private climate financing and carbon markets; increased international cooperation to deploy new technologies; and addressing created through forest loss and degradation.

Using California as a model of climate progress, she pointed specifically to the state's cap-and-trade program launching this year as part of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

Any action should be interdisciplinary in approach, Clark said, arguing that real progress would require holistic changes in government and social structures, "just as fixing health problems is about far more than fixing your hospital system." She pointed to corruption and weak government as enabling forces behind deforestation and forest degradation – the source of about a fifth of the world's greenhouse gas emissions.

Like any intractable problem, climate change cannot be tackled by government alone, Clark said. Grassroots advocacy and consumer choices – "bottom-up action" – will drive meaningful progress, she said, citing recent surveys showing increased public support for action on climate change. "The costs of inaction are increasingly clear."

In an interview following her lecture, Clark stressed the need for President Obama to use the momentum of his re-election to act quickly on climate change. "There is a window of opportunity to see the U.S. take a strong position," Clark told ClimateWire. "This is the hour for moving on . I think it's time to mobilize, and not just the U.S., but worldwide."

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1.7 / 5 (23) Nov 13, 2012
Climate Science Was A War Crime!
No, it's Disco science. Climate science has done to the public's respect for science what their pesticides did for their reputation. It was you in science that made environmental stewardship necessary in the first place thanks the lab coats of "science" poisoning the planet with cancer causing chemicals and pesticides. Science is the problem.
Be real professionals and admit your "scientific" exaggeration of Human CO2 causing any "crisis". You condemned my kids and billions of others to the greenhouse gas ovens of unstoppable warming knowing full well it was your consultants wet dream come true; that is proving what cant' be proven anyways. Climate change was a war crime and someday your actions of allowing the perpetuation of 26 years of needless panic will have real treasonous legal consequences.
3.1 / 5 (15) Nov 13, 2012
All Sandy showed us, was AGW global warming is influencing large global weather patterns. The Greenland ice-melt from global warming, creates an up-draft blocking high over the continent, while a tropic low is dragged up the NE coast. Wake up you fruit cake! It is man made global warming.
2.2 / 5 (17) Nov 14, 2012
So you are suggesting that if not for AGW, the storm simply would have struck somewhere else?
3.4 / 5 (10) Nov 14, 2012

Well, you're entertaining, if somewhat short on understanding, because your depiction of meteorology is rubbish. "Wake up you fruit cake"? Wow. You might at least give us some evidence. Then we might understand the connection with AGW. There's none in your "dragging a tropic low" or "melting ice creates an updraft."

Of a certainty, shouting at us won't convince us, even if it convinces you.

Richard Treadgold.
1.4 / 5 (18) Nov 14, 2012
Wake up you fruit cake! It is man made global warming.
IMO the geothermal heat and heating of oceans with accelerated decay of radioactive elements is the main culprit here. The people contribute to droughts with production of aerosols, but the fluctuations of global temperature are apparently larger than anthropogenic trends.
Bob D
2.8 / 5 (12) Nov 15, 2012
"Superstorm Sandy shows climate change isn't science fiction"
Well, we can arm-wave (as this article does), or we can look at cold hard data. Recently, the record was set for the longest period without a major land-falling hurricane in the USA (7 years and counting).
In other words, if the globe is warming, it means that global warming causes FEWER major hurricanes. As a check, we see that the NOAA ACE value is at the lowest level in about 30 years.

So I suppose it could possibly be true (since Sandy was barely a category 1 at landfall) that Sandy proves climate change in that there are now fewer and weaker land-falling hurricanes in the USA, but I suspect that's not what good old Helen meant.
2.4 / 5 (7) Nov 15, 2012
Obviously America is getting smaller.

"Recently, the record was set for the longest period without a major land-falling hurricane in the USA" - BobD

Soon it will disappear entirely.

The world will be a better place for it.
2 / 5 (16) Nov 17, 2012
If Sandy is proof of climate change, perhaps the lack of major storms over the last decade is proof more carbon is leading to fewer storms. Ask any meteorologist and they'll tell you, the rate of major storms over the last decade has dropped like a stone.
1.6 / 5 (14) Nov 17, 2012
What did the UN say about the much stronger hurricane that hit NY in 1938?
" The storm, also dubbed the Yankee Clipper, claimed 700 lives - including 10 in New York City - and injured 708.

Sam Platnick/New York Daily News One of the many homes wrecked in hard-hit West Hampton Beach, Long Island in the 1938 hurricane, where many met death. On Fire Island more than 1,000 bungalows were demolished after the hurricane hit.

4500 homes, cottages and farms were destroyed, according to SUNY Suffolk professor Scott Mandia, while 15,000 were damaged."
3 / 5 (4) Nov 17, 2012
If he doesn't I will.

"So you are suggesting that if not for AGW, the storm simply would have struck somewhere else?" - ricarguy

There was an unusual blocking high that prevented the storm from tracking east, away from the coast, and produced it's dramatic turn to the west.
1.4 / 5 (5) Nov 17, 2012
"If Sandy is proof of climate change" - Duude

If rolling 12 sixes in a row is proof of a loaded pair of dice....

If you wan't proof, go talk to a mathematician, they are the only ones that can prove anything.

2.2 / 5 (6) Nov 17, 2012
Why should anyone trust a congenital liar like you when he claims that the storm was "much stronger"?

"What did the UN say about the much stronger hurricane" - RyggTard

You can provide evidence to support your assertion, Can't you?

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