Sandy, Oh Sandy

(First published by Independent Australia)

Superstorm Sandy gave politics what one might call a watershed moment this week, in America and elsewhere. It showed Global Warming was real. It showed Big Government was necessary. It re-elected Obama and stalled the Tea Party’s venomous fervid momentum and made a Republican President unlikely (the party having lost for good and all the nervy, fecund Latino vote) in the next twenty years.

It also dealt a body blow to Capitalism itself (can the free market sort this? how?) and may mean JFK’s genial brawling Boston Catholic soup-queue benevolence comes back to American thinking. It certainly showed the insurance business should be wound up (Mother Nature being so big and brutish and stormy) and replaced by a Federal Damage Assessment Bureau which pays people back without fuss for those losses they have suffered in fire or water or wind. It may even empower Obama to extend to all citizens the free health benefits enjoyed by SEALs, Marines and army nurses.

It has certainly changed the political game, and the rules by which it is played and the war-cries of its right-wing leaders. Is government still the problem, not the solution? Is it still wrong to ‘throw money’ at social damage, or is it a good idea?

Romney dare not even visit New Jersey now, nor ‘reach across the aisle’ to even his own party comrades Chris Christie and Michael Bloomberg. He dare not offer ten million of his own, which he could readily afford, to rebuild the shoreline or the merry-go-round or the sets of Boardwalk Empire. He will have to keep mumbling he likes FEMA now, but cuts elsewhere must fund the good work it does, the books must be somehow balanced, it doesn’t grow on trees.

Sandy has shown how cruel and careless the capitalist impulse is. Gina Rinehart gets two million an hour, but not a minute’s worth of it can go to an old woman whose house was washed away. Wilson Parking makes a million a day, but not a dollar of it goes to rebuilding or repairing suburban railway lines. A one-bedroom Sydney flat costs half a million dollars, but no cent of the price helps care for a demented mother, or an autistic child; the property developers’ hundred thousand profit is more sacred than any merciful good it might do.

Sandy hurts Tony too. It shows that Obama, who tried to get an anti-global warming Carbon Price through, was right and Abbott, who battled bitterly to cancel one, was wrong. It shows what winds and waters are looming that will smash our shores if the air is not cooled nor the gas fires quelled nor the volcanoes quenched by concerned Big Government action and death duties on the rich in the coming months and years. It shows him vowing to end the world, not a good look in 2013, when the proof is in and the peril growing with every electric storm, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

Sandy was the October Surprise of this presidential year (in 2008 it was the Wall Street Meltdown) which ended, I think (I hope, I pray), the vile Neo-liberal interim in Western history and returned us, probably, to the decent Keynesian sanity of the 1950s, 60s and early 70s (‘We are all Keynesians now!’ Richard Nixon buoyantly bayed in 1971) before Murdoch brought us Thatcherism and all the bright barbarities that followed and killed, perhaps, half a billion children with its greed, neglect, no-fly zones and dirty drinking water.

It was a long time coming.

But now, at last, it is here.

Prove that I lie.

Leave a comment ?


  1. By the same argument, the other 360 days of “normal weather” demonstrate that GlobalwarmingclimatechangeextremeweathermanbearpiggravytrainscienceTM is a load of baloney.

    • Why would so many people be lying about it?

      What motive would they have?

      All those scientists? Why would they be lying?

      • Ask Tim Flannery - on a nice little earner. $750,000 to spruik absolute nonsense.

        Carbon DIOXIDE: plant food.

        Carbon DIOXIDE: an inert gas

        Carbon DIOXIDE: 0.038% of the atmosphere

        Carbon DIOXIDE attributed to human activity: 3% of the 0.038% = 0.00114% of the atmosphere

        Carbon DIOXIDE attributed to Australian human activity: 1.5% of 3% of the 0.038% = 0.0000171% of the atmosphere

        The theory is based on Carbon DIOXIDE, but they make it sound derdy, by deceitfully calling it “carbon pullution” belched out by dirdy polludas.

        It’s not about the environment, it’s about MONEY. Tax energy, and the beak is dipped into every aspect of human activity.

        It appeals to totalitarians and the mafia-minded.

        I wish I had thought of it.

        • Why then will there be no Arctic ice very soon?

          What’s your theory?

          • It went to the Antarctic. Look it up.

            What kind of fantasy do you live in with the expectation of “perfect climate”?

            18-24° every day, everywhere on earth… how can we achieve that with a tax do you suppose?

        • You’re being a bit mischievous, dudemeister.

          2012 NOAA data puts atmospheric CO2 around 395 parts per million with summer spikes of 400 ppm in the Arctic region. Taking the pre-industrial concentration at 280 ppm, then what you’re faced with is a 40% increase in atmosperic CO2 concentration in a relatively short period of time, largely attributed to anthropogenic causes.

          Given the short-term homeostasis of climatic conditions, again relatively speaking and within the context of the last 500 years, what’s happening right now is without precedent.

          Surface temperature warming; from more than a hundred years of records, around two-thirds of the net increase has occurred in the last 30 years.

          Terrestrial ecosystems; the earlier timing of spring events and poleward and upward shifts in plant and animal ranges have been linked with high confidence to recent warming.

          Rate of ocean acidification; many times faster than at any point within the past 300 million years.

          Glacier retreat; glaciers worldwide have been shrinking significantly, with strong retreats in the 1940s and again retreating from the mid 1980s to present. If you look at the charts of glacial mass balance against time, it’s like looking at stockmarket crash charts, huge declines in glacial mass over the most recent decades.

          Arctic ice; The Cambridge University Professor of Ocean Physics and Head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group, Peter Wadhams, is on record as saying he believes the Arctic ocean will likely be free of summer sea ice as early 2016. He’s the most pessimistic, whereas other scientists put total melt around 2030 onwards.

          There’s no controversy around the objective data. The ‘what to do about it’ question gets people a little agitated though.

  2. If Fat Albert Gore stopped flying all over the globe making silly scarifying speeches for $150,000 a pop, perhaps there’d be less carbon pullution in the air, making “super storms”.

    Damn I wish I thought of that!!! It sounds GREAT.

  3. Bob, even James Lovelock the creator of the Gaia theory and once a strident believer now says he was “alarmist” about global warming. Google it.

    Patrick Moore, founder of Greenpeace and a committed environmentalist says his beloved Greenpeace was hijacked by communists and socialists hellbent on a mission to to use climate change as a means to influence government.

    In fact for a socialist Bob Ellis, you should be on the side of the poor, the weak and the oppressed when Patrick Moore says:

    “We do not have any scientific proof that we are the cause of the global warming that has occurred in the last 200 years…The alarmism is driving us through scare tactics to adopt energy policies that are going to create a huge amount of energy poverty among the poor people. It’s not good for people and its not good for the environment…In a warmer world we can produce more food.”

    Very true. More CO2 will produce more food. Thats why I recommend we don’t call it Carbon pollution as the twits leading our current government do, but simply call it plant food which it is.

    You can’t argue with the fact Bob. But fools do.

    • Your last line says it all, Frank.

      The problem is that we really don’t know enough to know what the facts are.

      I have been accused by the radicals of being a “lukewarmer” and by the loony right of being “an alarmist”.

      So I must be doing something right. :lol:

      Strangely enough, I can do no better than quote Lord Rupert :

      “We should give the planet the benefit of the doubt”

      ie, that we should take some action to reduce our impact on the climate, as a precautionary measure.

    • You’re being a bit naughty Frank.

      I googled as you suggested and in the interview I found with said Dr Moore, he says we can’t be sure we are the sole (u/l) factor contributing to global warming.

      Here’s part of what he says:

      “We do not know if we are a small or large part of the present global warming. It is not possible through science to determine an exact answer to this question. Certainly the natural factors, and there are many, that have acted to change the climate many times through the history of the Earth, are still operating today. They have not gone away. But human emissions of CO2 is a new (natural) factor. So it is very unlikely that we are the only factor causing the present global warming but we may be one of the factors.”

      He goes on to say that he believes we should all try to reduce our fossil fuel consumption.

      The entire interview can be found here:

      You might be referring to something else he’s said. Please share your source if you’ve got it handy.

      In any case its not carbon that’s the problem, its methane. If you really love the planet Bob you’ll give up bacon sandwiches.

      • Give up bacon sandwiches? Never. There are some things I’d sacrifice for the planet, but not bacon sandwiches. :grin:

        Seriously, the evidence is that plant-eating animals, including vegetarian/vegan humans, are the main producers of methane.

        • Produce plant eating animals en masse and eat them, that’ll fix it. Newton’s Law.

        • Hello Doug Coyote. May I call you Doug Coyote? Fair point, bacon sandwiches are one of life’s true pleasures. But as you say, its the plant eating, methane belching animals that are the culprits and they are being produced in the billions (with all the abominable practices that go with intensive farming) to supply people with cheap meat and more than any person needs. Ban the burger = stop the methane = save the planet. That might be a longish bow. I don’t know what to do about getting rid of those pesky self-righteous farting vegans though.

          • Certainly, if I can call you Fuckona. Or perhaps Fartonya?

            But perhaps, I should call you Fiona and you should call me Doug Quixote.

            Seven billion and counting; whilst all the evidence suggests a sustainable population, long term, is 1 to 2 billion. How we reduce to 2 billion by 2100 or thereabouts won’t be pleasant; not pleasant at all.

            • I didn’t think you’d go for it but I didn’t think you’d be that upset. Apologies.

              Superbugs might do it.

              • Not upset, just amused. But to deliberately misuse another’s name, even an avatar, is not a friendly act. Apologies accepted; let’s stay cordial. (DQ or Doug are acceptable :grin: )

                And you are right; we are nearly into the post-antibiotic world.

                The difficulty was that the World’s human population exploded as a direct result of improvements in sanitation, health care and food availability; whilst the capacity to limit reproduction was lacking. Our grandparents/great grandparents’ generation had large families, in part because so many died in infancy.

                Third world countries are still breeding too rapidly for the available resources.

                We may expect wars over food and water resources, as well as over oil and other limited commodities.

                • I’m glad we’re on speaking terms again DQ. This is my maiden voyage into the blogosphere and my online etiquette is clearly a work in progress.

                  Serious question - why do people use avatars? Why not just use your own name? Is it a fear that some bitch will fuck with it? (That was a joke!) I’m sure there are PhDs on this but I’d rather hear your views?

                  And back to the superbugs and possible over-population issues, apparently antibiotics aren’t profitable enough for pharma companies to bother developing them anymore - cholesterol drugs like lipitor which are life long are more lucrative (drug companies want you to keep eating bacon even if your docter doesn’t) and apparently education plays a great role in reducing birth rates, maybe we could try that.

  4. “Next time somebody tries to tell you hurricane Sandy was an “unprecedented” East Coast hurricane, show them this”

    Question: what happened early 19th century?

  5. 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.

    Anyone with half a brain could figure that out for themselves.

    • So no one is disputing the data, just the conclusions drawn by different groups of eminent scientists. All it suggests to me is that both Professor Steffen AND Dr Hoerling might be interpreting the data differently to serve their political masters, and keep their jobs and funding for their organisations.

    • True, Frank. Everyone seems to have a barrow to push.

      But it just may be that such storms will become more frequent than they were, and since so many are now living in harm’s way . . .

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