Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

October 30, 2012

“Weather events are not orthogonal to politics.”

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Christopher Bellavita on October 30, 2012

“The massive storm swamping the East Coast this week has reminded us that we’ve got to act quickly to make our nation and world safe from the ravages of global climate change.

That’s what Rex Nutting writes in a MarketWatch post you can find here.

… we can’t ignore the increased and intensified storms, droughts, cold snaps, heat waves, wild fires and disease that inevitably follow from the disruption of our climate.

Hiding our heads in the sand is not a viable strategy when the storm surge is 10 feet over our heads.

This has been a banner year for extreme weather events around the world, just as 2011 was. In 2012, federal agencies have declared a weather-related disaster in every state except one: Maine. And Sandy is heading that way as we speak.

On the other hand,

“Hurricane Sandy is just the latest example of the futility and foolishness of thinking that humans can do anything about a hurricane or similar demonstration of who is really in charge. It is the planet. Not us.”

That’s the message Alan Caruba believes Sandy’s sending to America.

Not surprisingly, the environmental organizations such as Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club are already beating the drums about “climate change,” asserting “unpredictable, extreme weather.” The planet is always in a state of climate change if for no other reason that it is subject to the seasons. Blaming extreme weather on “climate change” is just a code for keeping the “global warming” hoax alive. …

This is [part of ] a deliberate policy to weaken the nation’s capacity to function at every level and yet we are days away from an election where millions of Americans will vote to reelect Obama and send his Democratic Party minions to Congress.

It is in line with the Obama administration’s deliberate policy of reducing our military capacity on land, sea and air.


Assuming the 2012 election is not postponed, what will the voters say about all this?

Josh Voorhees reports on a 2011 paper published in the American Journal of Political Science called “Make It Rain? Retrospection and the Attentive Electorate in the Context of Natural Disasters.” The authors claim “…electorates punish presidents and governors for severe weather damage.”

The good news, according to the authors, is governors and the president can overcome the negative effects of being blamed for the disasters.


The governors have to request federal assistance.

Then the president has to approve the requests.

Or, in the authors’ own words,

Weather events are not orthogonal to politics. Even though these events are randomly determined, they have dramatic effects on the lives of individuals and present a test for the politician. We find that the electorate is able to separate random events from governmental responses and attribute actions based on the defined roles of the governor and president. As voters encounter hurricanes, tornados, and other severe weather events, they look to these two politicians. Some will blame [sic] for the state of the world without regard for the roles of the politicians in shaping those outcomes. Despite some arbitrary sanctioning, we find that in the aggregate the electorate is attentive, and electoral outcomes are more contingent on the actions that politicians take when faced with an unexpected crisis.

Mr. Caruba is even more succinct:

“The bad news for Obama is that he is likely be blamed for whatever occurs in the wake of the hurricane because that’s what we do.”


Back to Mr. Nutting.

After pointing readers to Andrew Revkin’s review of current scientific thinking about climate change, Nutting describes a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/United Kingdom study that concluded “we can attribute an increased probability of some extreme weather events to man-made global warming.”

That doesn’t mean we can blame Sandy on global warming. But it does mean we can figure out how more likely an event such as Sandy is, or how much more intense it is likely to be than it would be in an alternative universe in which humans do not burn carbon or deforest the topics.

The study uses an analogy to make its point: Consider an athlete who begins to use performance-enhancing drugs. He might be expected to hit more home runs, (or win more bike races). By comparing performances with and without drugs, we could say, for example, that steroid use increases the likelihood of a home run by 10%. But we couldn’t point to any particular home run and say that steroid use caused that one.

Nutting faults Romney and Obama for ignoring climate issue during the presidential campaign: “The topic of climate change didn’t come up during any of the debates this year, the first time that’s happened in a generation. ….”

Obama won’t talk about climate change to a general audience. That’s bad enough. What’s worse is the about-face by Mitt Romney and the Republican Party.

In 2008, Romney and the party agreed that climate change was real. But now the Republicans insist that it’s a hoax. Paul Ryan says scientists are using statistical tricks to “intentionally mislead the public on the issue of climate change.”

There are Republicans who object to a bunch of climate scientists making assumptions about how the climate will change if we keep dumping carbon into the atmosphere. We shouldn’t destroy our economy based on someone’s simplified model of the way the world works, they say.

But they don’t object to a bunch of economists making similarly sketchy assumptions about the dire consequences if we don’t balance the federal budget right away.

In one case, the model is perfectly sound; in the other, it’s just a hoax.


Mr Caruba, who sees Sandy as an opportunity to remind people that it’s “time to rid ourselves of the nation’s first Marxist President,” argues

The only silver lining in the distress and disruption of Hurricane Sandy may be the awakening of voters to the critical need for more, not less, production of electricity, for improvements to the national grid, for more oil production for our transportation needs, and concurrent with this, the hundreds of thousands of jobs that such efforts would produce and billions it would generate to begin to reduce the national debt, now in excess of $16 trillion….

The enemy, I would suggest, is President Barack Hussein Obama, his many shadowy, unaccountable “czars” influencing energy policies, his Cabinet Secretaries of Energy and the Interior, and the rogue Environmental Protection Agency that is set to unleash regulations that will destroy the economy, aided and abetted by the nation’s environmental organizations.


And in other news, the always informative Farnam Street blog (“Mastering the best of what other people have figured out”) reminds readers about five critical thinking skills Paul Wyckoff wants his students — and possibly people who write about climate and politics — to learn:

1. The ability to think empirically, not theoretically.
2. The ability to think in terms of multiple, rather than single, causes.
3. The ability to think in terms of the sizes of things, rather than only in terms of their direction.
4. The ability to think like foxes, not hedgehogs.
5. The ability to understand one’s own biases.


Here is how Specialist Brett Hyde spent his Monday:  a gray reminder of what allows us to shout deafly at each other while a storm rages.

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Comment by Claire B. Rubin

October 30, 2012 @ 6:02 am

I made a short list yesterday on my blog re some of the political aspects of H. Sandy and Romney’s position on FEMA. See RecoveryDiva.com

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 30, 2012 @ 8:00 am

Interesting post! So let US cut to the chase! Few politicians in the USA are scientists, engineers, or technically trained or conversant in any way. That is there choice and really not the choice of the people who are never often given the choice of those with adequate knowledge of the science and technology that underpins modern society!
Like the wonderful movie wherein a coca-cola bottle falls from an airplane and becomes an item of worship to a Kalihari desert culture few residents or citizens of the USA understand their own relied upon technology.
The destruction of the Office of Technology Policy in 1994 by a resurgent Republican house majority is the perfect example of cutting off your own nose despite yourself.

While many other bases exist for how one votes let US make this 2012 election all about science and climate change. Since I have already stated that both parties undermine both science and climate change analysis what should be done?

How about just picking the least vociferous in denying climate change? Each must decide who that is on our own since the MSM will not point out which canadidate or candidates is most hostile to science and climate change.

There is no doubt that civilization has thrived during this period of interglacial warming. Now what will happen is left to others to predict. But I suspect that the continued melting of the Greenland Glaciers and the Antarctic glaciers means something.

But as Geographer Gilbert White opined in his early 40’s thesis, man’s occupancy of flood plains must recognize the risks.

And for the record the leading disaster economists have been unable to make up their minds for the last 50 years as to whether a community is better off or worse off 10 years after the event depending on the scope of disaster recovery funding.

One might ask what is the largest single disaster project outlay not for flood control structures in USA history and that in fact is the below ground transportation center that once was below the twin towers of the WTC. Almost $10B so far largely with federal taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps federal disaster relief will rebuild after Ms. Sandy’s arrival the 108 year old NYC subway system

Comment by William R. Cumming

October 30, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

Perhaps oddly the Lawfare.com blog had comments paralleling Claire Rubin’s blog on the NY Times Editorial on Romney and FEMA.

Posting this comment on Tuesday night around 10 PM I note for the record that energy and transportation critical infrastructure disruptions will be the key to this disaster not flooding!IMO of course.

Personally I think there are National Security impacts from this disaster that lurk over the horizon and economic models of past disasters will not be accurate.

We actually have no accurate figures on the disaster outlays from Katrina but my initial estimate is that recovery costs and insurance losses will exceed the $125B mark for Hurricane Sandy and its related events.

Comment by The Long Lost Initial $750 billion Stimulus Monies And Our National Electric Grid

October 31, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

Well, the long lost initial $750 billion in iniial stimulus monies and this administration and its cohorts when asked where the monies were dispersed and silence in response, if we had only taken that money and instead of dispersing it out to the “Goldman Sachs WH” banker pals and better used it to place our electric grid underground and afforded jobs to many, We todayt would fare much better – Where are the feds going to get this $20 b to address Sandy and look closely for another nor’easter Will be brewing shortly as Winter is upon us –

God Bless us all –

Christopher Tingus
Cape Cod, MA

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