New Video: Sandy and the Age of Superstorms

November 28, 2012

New video for the Yale Forum on Climate Change and the Media.

I interviewed hurricane expert Kerry Emanuel of MIT, and asked him for a blow by blow analysis of the GOES satellite animation of hurricane Sandy.  He expertly complied, and added a number of additional details. I’ll be posting more of his raw interview later.  I also talked to Jason Box, of the Byrd Polar Center, and added in a number of other resources for context, including a revealing anecdote from former GOP congressman Joe Scarborough.


35 Responses to “New Video: Sandy and the Age of Superstorms”

  1. Being a grownup would mean showing your work for that claim. (Never gets old…Internet trolls positing lack of adulthood in those who call out their silly, pedantic whining. It’s like Lindsey Lohan telling me to sober up).

    In any event, the point isn’t dollar costs per se, and if you actually watched the video or listened to the scientists (who admit there hasn’t been enough research on just how bad the costs are going to be), but rather the loading of the dice.

    The point is that the odds are greatly increased for disruptive, costly (both in terms of blood and treasure), and frankly quality of life disturbing storms happening more and more often. No one with climate science credentials really seriously doubts this, but if it makes you feel better about that to kick sand over the tangential “costs to insurance companies to unfuck what storms fuck up” concerns expressed by some, I certainly can’t prevent you from chasing that anti-intellectual rabbit down the bullshit hole.

    It certainly is though worth noticing there probably aren’t many insurance company executives who find your preening on this issue compelling.

    • omnologos Says:

      Au contraire…of the three major reinsurers one doesn’t care about global warming and another only cares when asked.

      It might all be due to the fact that “loading the dice” is meaningless if there is no way to compute how much the loading has been. I guess they might also be watching with keen interest on the development of the scientific definition of ‘extreme weather’, something sorely still missing.

      It’s amazing actually how Emanuel can say his profession hasn’t done its homework only to proceed as if he had done it.

      • jimbills Says:

        I’d also like to see your sources for: 1) that after inflation and the increase in development there is no added insurance damage for the recent decade, and 2) that 1 of 3 major insurers doesn’t care about global warming.

        Links or at least article headlines would be helpful. Thanks.

        • omnologos Says:

          Am out and about now. Pielke Jr has many posts on normalized costs.

          And am talking reinsurers not insurers.

          There’s three major ones of those. Munich Re, Swiss Re and Berkshire Hathaway. Alarmist, lukewarm, disinterested. A varied offering.

          • jimbills Says:

            Pielke Jr. – sorry, but he’s not a neutral source. Are there any sources of analysis stating zero rise after adjustments from the insurance industry itself?

            On those three reinsurers, here’s a good article:

            “Commercial, residential, and marine property classes may be at risk because of climate change.” — General Reinsurance, a Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (US:BRK.A) ((US:BRK.B) company.

            “Swiss Re’s climate experts remain in close contact with the climate research community. Recent initiatives have looked at the effects of climate change on coastal flood damage and storm damage in Europe as well as the economics of climate adaptation…around the world, including Florida.” — Swiss Re AG (CH:SREN)

            I’m guessing you know Munich Re:

          • jimbills Says:

            Okay, I found the Pielke reference:

            Pielke’s main reference is a paper by economists Fabian Barthel and Eric Neumayer titled “A Trend Analysis of Normalized Insured Damage from Natural Disasters”. Here is the full paper:

            Click to access Insured_dis_norm.pdf

            And its conclusions, after a very forceful opening sentence stating that climate change is nor should be a main concern to insurance industries:


            In this article, we have analyzed whether one can detect a trend in data on insured damage from natural disasters. Whilst we have not found any evidence that normalized insured damage has trended upward at the global level, for developed countries and independently of the type of disaster looked at, our detection of an upward trend in insured losses from non-geophysical disasters and certain specific disaster sub-types in the US, the biggest insurance market in the world, and in West Germany represents a finding to be taken seriously in the risk analysis undertaken by insurance and re-insurance companies.


            The conclusion then goes on a list of reasons why the analysis should be considered limited, and that further study is needed. Fair enough. But what path the insurance industry is taking as a whole should be clear.

  2. I guess it’s easy to be a denier when you’re willing to say anything, anything at all to support your case without any regard at all to whether it bears even a passing resemblance to factual accuracy.

    Yup, they aren’t waiting to be asked, they’re quite aware that they need to start putting their bigboy pants on and know darn well they don’t have the luxury of the Maurizio head in the sand approach.

    Ooops. If you’re going to say dumb shit, try to make it something that anyone with 20 seconds and a Google search can’t torpedo, Capn.

    And there is a meaningful way to calculate how much the loading has been, as Emmanuel notes–storm strength and water temp are quite directly correlated, and storm surge is quite directly correlated to storm strength and sea level.

    If you’re thinking you’re making a winning argument by saying “well we don’t know whether future storms will be really, really, really problematic, or whether they’ll be really really really really reallllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly problematic”…there’s no helping you. Quite clearly the scientific community is saying “storms are going to be more dangerous and more powerful going forward”. The qualitative statement alone is enough to establish there’s a problem–and Emmanuel’s admission that the quantitative question remains open isn’t the same as saying there’s not a problem. Speaking of adulthood…recognizing as much is a sign of same.

  3. Putting aside that reinsurers vs insurers is a BS distinction, he’s not even right about that. I have a comment awaiting moderation which includes a link where Swiss Re, AIG, etc discuss their concerns about climate.

    Short version: yes, they’re thinking about it. As per usual, Mo’s just making shit up.

  4. Comments with links get flagged, but if you Google “reinsurers climate change” you get spates of articles about how all the big reinsurers actually are quite concerned about climate.

    Not sure how much more nakedly obvious someone’s troll status can be, Mo.

    • omnologos Says:

      That’s nice Sebastian to show how strong your arguments are.

      In other news Pielke Jr’s peer reviewed articles aren’t good any longer. And there’s no distinction between insurers and reinsurers. Guess I am writing from a different universe.

  5. Dude, you’re busted. Get over it. You were telling a fat ole fib and got called on it. Be a man and admit it.

    The distinction between reinsurers and insurers isn’t relevant in the context of climate, since, in point of fact Swiss Re, Munich Re, etc have actually been show to be concerned about climate change as myself and others have shown.

    Pielke Jr is A) not a climate scientist and B) well known to be a joke, on this and other issues, amongst actual climatologists.

    And he’s wrong about the costs of a changing climate:

  6. (But let’s posit a moment that in terms of climate, it actually was the case that Swiss Re, Munich Re, et al aren’t worried in the slightest about climate–quite a leap or suspension of belief is required, I know, since…that’s not actually the case–would that actually in turn mean we can ignore climate scientists when they say “watch out, storms are going to get worse as the climate warms”?

    What sort of infantile deductive process gets you there?)

  7. […] Appears to support what Kerry Emanuel has been saying. […]

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