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Sandy: it's global warming, stupid, and it's not just the U.S.

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Sandy: Haiti fears food shortages after hurricane

Staff, BBC News
Fears are growing of food shortages in Haiti, after the strong winds and heavy rain of Hurricane Sandy caused extensive crop damage.

Aid workers and officials are also warning that flooding could lead to a sharp rise in cholera cases.

Sandy is blamed for some 70 deaths in the Caribbean. Of these more than 50 were in Haiti.

In Jamaica and Cuba, which took direct hits from the hurricane, the clean-up is also continuing.

Sandy, which was a category one hurricane when it clipped Haiti last week, brought heavy rain and flooding.

At least 54 people died in what Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe called a "disaster of major proportions".

Haiti was hit when it was already down. At least 20,000 people have been made homeless by the storm.

But the astonishing truth is that a casual visitor to Haiti probably wouldn't even notice this new wave of misery; that's because hundreds of thousands of people were already living in flimsy shelters after their homes collapsed in an earthquake two years ago.

There is concern that floods and unsanitary conditions could led to an increase in cholera cases...

(31 October 2012)


It's global warming, stupid

Paul M. Barrett, Bloomberg Business Week
Yes, yes, it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change. Men and women in white lab coats tell us—and they’re right—that many factors contribute to each severe weather episode. Climate deniers exploit scientific complexity to avoid any discussion at all.

Clarity, however, is not beyond reach. Hurricane Sandy demands it: At least 40 U.S. deaths. Economic losses expected to climb as high as $50 billion. Eight million homes without power. Hundreds of thousands of people evacuated. More than 15,000 flights grounded. Factories, stores, and hospitals shut. Lower Manhattan dark, silent, and underwater.

An unscientific survey of the social networking literature on Sandy reveals an illuminating tweet (you read that correctly) from Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota. On Oct. 29, Foley thumbed thusly: “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.” Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund (and former deputy editor of Bloomberg Businessweek), offers a baseball analogy: “We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids.”

In an Oct. 30 blog post, Mark Fischetti of Scientific American took a spin through Ph.D.-land and found more and more credentialed experts willing to shrug off the climate caveats. The broadening consensus: “Climate change amps up other basic factors that contribute to big storms. For example, the oceans have warmed, providing more energy for storms. And the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, so it retains more moisture, which is drawn into storms and is then dumped on us.” Even those of us who are science-phobic can get the gist of that.

Sandy featured a scary extra twist implicating climate change. An Atlantic hurricane moving up the East Coast crashed into cold air dipping south from Canada. The collision supercharged the storm’s energy level and extended its geographical reach. Pushing that cold air south was an atmospheric pattern, known as a blocking high, above the Arctic Ocean. Climate scientists Charles Greene and Bruce Monger of Cornell University, writing earlier this year in Oceanography, provided evidence that Arctic icemelts linked to global warming contribute to the very atmospheric pattern that sent the frigid burst down across Canada and the eastern U.S...

(1 November 2012)


Hurricane Sandy: why have the British media ignored Caribbean victims?

Roy Greenslade, The Guardian blog
I am glad I'm not alone in scorning the media overkill on hurricane Sandy. My colleague Michael White has rightly noted the over-the-top coverage and scores of commenters to our live blog have been underwhelmed by the attention paid to a storm simply because it struck the United States.

That last point is the most telling of all. Hundreds of people die from hurricanes in other countries every year without the western media appearing to notice.

I concede that all news is local. So the American newspapers and TV news outlets can be forgiven for concentrating so much attention on a storm that is ravaging the country's eastern seaboard. But why do global TV outlets, such as CNN, think what happens in the US is important enough to warrant beaming to the rest of the world as its main news item?

More significant still, why have British media assumed that it should be the leading news story of the last couple of days?...

...Sure, they speak the same language, but note how little attention has been paid to the fact that hurricane Sandy is having a devastating effect on Canada. Yet coverage of that country's plight has been virtually nil thus far.

...But is it not insensitive to realise that we pay greater attention to its problems - and its storm victims - rather than those elsewhere? In a world shrunk smaller by digital communications, we cannot say that we do not know what happens in other countries.

Commenters to the live blog have provided many examples of our oversight. For example, GilbertTheAlien counted 65 Guardian articles on hurricane Sandy, but only eight of these referred to its effect on the Caribbean.

Yet just consider the figures: 69 deaths in total, including 52 people in Haiti, 11 in Cuba, two in the Bahamas, two in the Dominican Republic, one in Jamaica and one in Puerto Rico...

(30 October 2012)


Hurricane Sandy’s effect on Caribbean (photos)

Staff, popdecay
Hurricane Sandy’s toll in the Caribbean amounts to at least 69 dead, thousands homeless and few funds available to rebuild. Yet, the Caribbean carnage remains largely behind the scenes as media spotlight focuses on the US.

Sandy took the lives of 52 people in Haiti, 11 in Cuba, two in the Bahamas, two in the Dominican Republic, one in Jamaica and one in Puerto Rico.

In light of the difficulty to rebuild in some of the impoverished areas of the Caribbean, especially Haiti, the United Nations will be appealing for emergency aid.

“Haiti is trying to get its house in order, but each time disaster strikes, the progress is interrupted,” head of the UN’s office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs Johan Peleman told The Guardian. “This country is exposed to devastating consequences by each storm. With every burst of rain, entire mountains are washed away.”

Haiti was the worst hit

Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas took direct hits as Sandy approached them as a Category 1 and 2 storm. However, the majority of deaths and the most extensive damage fell upon Haiti, already devastated by the 2010 earthquake. The storm passed to the west of the country, but dumped more than 20 inches (51cm) of rain in 24 hours, causing rivers to overflow.

The damage is especially significant there because the country already had about 400,000 homeless since the deadly earthquake. Now 200,000 more had been added to the list because of Sandy. During the storm nearly 17,800 people had to move to 131 temporary shelters.

(30 October 2012)

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