The nuns who taught environmental science at the high school your writer attended would preface discussion of natural disasters as “acts of God.” Apparently much has changed in the past few decades as Sr. Patricia Daly, OP, is declaring recent hurricanes and tornadoes the result of greenhouse gases. In other words: “acts of Exxon.”
Daly, a member of the Sisters of St. Dominic of Caldwell, N.J., is the spokesperson for her order, which is among several groups that submitted proxy shareholder resolutions to ExxonMobil Corp. to adopt greenhouse gas reduction goals.
The resolution failed, but that didn’t prevent Daly from a parting shot in The Washington Post: “‘I had to evacuate a lot of old nuns because of Superstorm Sandy,’ Daly said. She said that with rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, ‘we’re in desperate territory right now.’”
One is tempted to roll one’s eyes and exclaim, “Oh, brother!” Or, more appropriately in this instance, “Oh, Sister!”
Daly, of course, isn’t alone in her misinterpretation of science and history. Plenty of politicians, journalists, entertainers and other religious raised a global warming clamor in Superstorm Sandy’s aftermath, but extreme weather events occurred regularly in the nation’s Northeast well before fossil fuels dominated the energy and transportation industries.
As noted by Paul Driessen:
North America’s northeastern coast has been battered by hurricanes and other major storms throughout history. A 1775 hurricane killed 4,000 people in Newfoundland; an 1873 monster left 600 dead in Nova Scotia; others pummeled Canada’s Maritime Provinces in 1866, 1886, 1893, 1939, 1959, 1963 and 2003.
Manhattan got pounded in 1667 and by the Great Storm of 1693. They were followed by more behemoths in 1788, 1821, 1893, 1944, 1954 and 1992. Other “confluences of severe weather events” brought killer storms like the four-day Great Blizzard of 1888. The 1893 storm largely eradicated Hog Island, and the 1938 “Long Island Express” hit LI as a category 3 hurricane with wind gusts up to 180 mph.
Experts say such winds today would rip windows from skyscrapers and cause a deadly blizzard of flying glass, masonry, chairs, desks and other debris from high-rise offices and apartments. People would seek safety in subway tunnels, where they would drown as the tunnels flood.
Sandy was merely the latest “confluence” (tropical storm, northeaster and full-moon high tide) to blast the New York-New Jersey area. It was never a matter of if, but only of when, such a storm would hit.
People, planners and politicians should have been better prepared. Instead, we are feted with statements designed to dodge responsibility and culpability, by trying to blame global warming. The reality is, even as atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rose to 391 ppm (0.0391%) today, average global temperatures have not changed in 16 years, and sea levels are rising no faster than in 1900. Even with Hurricane Sandy, November 2012 marked the quietest long-term hurricane period since the Civil War, with only one major hurricane strike on the US mainland in seven years. This is global warming and unprecedented weather on steroids?
And yet the WaPo reporter merely accepted Daly’s riposte at face value, with an additional dollop of misinformation:
The average global temperature rose one quarter of a degree Fahrenheit from the 10 years that ended in 2002 to the decade that ended in 2012, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. However, the decade of 2000-2009 was the hottest on record, and nine of the 10 hottest years have occurred since 2001.
The Economist, however, disputes these claims in an article published this past March. Many readers will recall this very same magazine’s calling for a worldwide global warming treaty in 2008. The magazine, however, did an editorial about face this year:
OVER the past 15 years air temperatures at the Earth’s surface have been flat while greenhouse-gas emissions have continued to soar. The world added roughly 100 billion tonnes of carbon to the atmosphere between 2000 and 2010. That is about a quarter of all the CO₂ put there by humanity since 1750. And yet, as James Hansen, the head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, observes, “the five-year mean global temperature has been flat for a decade.”
In light of this compelling knowledge, Exxon shareholders wisely rejected the Dominican nun’s proxy resolution.
“What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?” WaPo quotes ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson at the company’s annual meeting. Indeed, if misguided environmentalism succeeds in its shortsighted mission to “save the planet,” it will be at the expense of the World’s poorest with no impact whatsoever on extreme weather events, which, regardless Sr. Daly’s proclamations, are still acts of God.