Sandy viewed from space on Oct. 29 at 16:55 GMT, 40 km from Atlantic City with winds of 144 km an hour.
Credit: NASA – Public domain
A Posthumous Message from Hurricane Sandy
By Stephen Leahy
Deadly Hurricane Sandy speaks to us in first person
from its very own blog, created by IPS environmental
journalist Stephen Leahy.
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Nov 5 (Tierramérica).- Hi, this is Sandy. By the time you read this, I’ll
be gone, after dissipating into increasingly
weaker remnants of strong winds, heavy rains and
snowfall in the Great Lakes region of North
I am saddened by the damage and loss of life but
am truly surprised you are so shocked by the
extent and severity. I was born on Oct. 22, and
over the course of 10 days I killed more than 150
people and caused tens of billions of dollars in
damages in numerous countries in the Caribbean and
on the east coast of the United States.
Haven’t you noticed hurricanes, cyclones and other
storms have become more powerful in recent years?
And that extreme weather events like record
flooding, droughts and heat waves are happening
In 2012 extreme weather records were broken all
over the U.S. In 2011 there were 14 separate
billion-dollar-plus weather disasters in the U.S.
including flooding, hurricanes and tornados.
Did you notice my relatives? They’ve been all over
the planet. In the past 20 years extreme events
have had major impacts on developing countries
like Bangladesh, Burma and Honduras that have
suffered most in terms of damages and lives lost.
Last year, we displaced 38 million people with
climate-related disasters such as the flooding in
Pakistan and China.
And all this is happening in part because the air
and sea have become warmer over the past 50 years.
The world has already warmed 0.8 C since the pre-
Industrial era and will rise at least 1.6 C even
if emissions of the hundreds of millions of tons
of carbon dioxide (CO2) from burning coal, oil and
natural gas ended today. (There is a time lag in
the climate system. The current global warming is
the result of CO2 emissions from the 1950s to
You should bear that reality in mind. There is
twice as much warming to come, guaranteed. I’m
sorry to say it may be too late to do enough to
prevent a threefold or even fourfold increase in
the current warming.
You can dial down the thermostat if you really
You should also know there are more superstorms or
“Frankenstorms” (more properly anthrostorms, since
we are caused by human activity) like me coming.
Not today or next week, but in the near future.
The climate is now supercharged with extra heat
energy. I’ve called it like being on steroids. The
climate is 0.8 C warmer. That’s the average
increase over the entire planet. Many places are
much warmer, such as the Arctic where it is two to
three degrees warmer on average now.
Canada is 1.3 C warmer today than 50 years ago. It
will be four degrees warmer in a few decades.
Temperatures in the U.S. will not be far behind.
In a few decades the entire planet will be two to
three degrees warmer. That might not sound like
much, but it means a 200 to 300 percent increase
Storms and extreme weather are powered by heat
energy. I don’t want to think what will be coming.
But it doesn’t have to go that way. Believe it or
not, the reality is that humanity is in control of
the global thermostat.
The increase in temperatures in the air and oceans
is mainly due to emissions of CO2. Those emissions
of CO2 come from burning coal, oil, and gas and
cutting down most of the world’s forests (trees
take CO2 from the air to grow).
The U.S. could shift from energy sources emitting
CO2 to 100 percent renewable energy sources by
2030, as studies published in Scientific American
So don’t curse me; you’ve made me stronger with
There are estimates that I caused 50 billion
dollars in damages in the U.S., in addition to the
several billion in damages in the Caribbean
That’s a lot of money - enough to give every human
on the planet around eight dollars. But it is only
a fraction of the 600 billion dollars that the oil
and gas industry is spending this year alone in
exploration and new production, according the
Harvard University research study, "Oil: The Next
This 600 billion dollars invested in fossil fuels
will bring extreme weather no human has ever
witnessed. And it will be an “investment” in
extreme weather lasting more than a hundred years.
So don’t curse me if your home is flooded, your
life disrupted or worse, if you’ve lost a loved
one. Hurricanes and tropical storms are nature’s
pressure relief valves. It’s not our fault we’ve
been amped up on fossil-fuel “steroids” you’ve put
into the atmosphere.
Every day, millions more tons of CO2 are added,
trapping ever more of the sun’s heat.
A ton of CO2 is about three barrels of oil (159
liters each). And every ton of CO2 “lives” in the
atmosphere for 100 years. That means every barrel
of oil, ton of coal or cubic foot of gas burned
adds more CO2, trapping more and more of the sun’s
heat for the next 100 years.
It’s curious you’d spend 600 billion dollars on
additional sources of fossil fuel when there is
already more than enough production capacity to
push CO2 levels from current the 390 parts per
million (ppm) to far above 450 ppm.
It’s a curious investment when your experts and
leaders say they want to return to a safer level
of 350 ppm. Think about that when you forget about
* Hurricane Sandy Speaks – Blog by Stephen Leahy http://hurricanesandyspeaks.com/