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Monday, October 29, 2012

  • Bill McKibben on Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: "If There Was Ever a Wake-up Call, This Is It"

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    Much of the East Coast is shut down today as residents prepare for Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that could impact up to 50 million people from the Carolinas to Boston. The storm has already killed 66 people in the Caribbean, where it battered Haiti and Cuba. "This thing is stitched together from elements natural and unnatural, and it seems poised to cause real havoc," says Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. New York and other cities have shut down schools and transit systems. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been evacuated. Millions could lose power over the next day. Meteorologists say Sandy could be the largest storm ever to hit the U.S. mainland. The megastorm comes at a time when President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have refused to make climate change an issue on the campaign trail. For the first time since 1984, climate change was never addressed during a presidential debate. "It’s really important that everybody, even those who aren’t in the kind of path of this storm, reflect about what it means that in the warmest year in U.S. history, ... in a year when we saw, essentially, summer sea ice in the Arctic just vanish before our eyes, what it means that we’re now seeing storms of this unprecedented magnitude," McKibben says. "If there was ever a wake-up call, this is it." We’re also joined by climate scientist Greg Jones from Southern Oregon University. [includes rush transcript]

  • Frankenstorm: Meteorologist Warns Hurricane Sandy an Outgrowth of Global Warming’s Extreme Weather

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    Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is a rare hybrid superstorm created by an Arctic jet stream from the north wrapping itself around a tropical storm from the south. Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, warns that such a "Frankenstorm," as it is called, is an outgrowth of the extreme weather changes caused by global warming. "When you do heat the oceans up more, you extend the length of hurricane season," Masters says. "There’s been ample evidence over the last decade or so that hurricane season is getting longer — starts earlier, ends later. You’re more likely to get these sort of late October storms now, and you’re more likely to have this sort of situation where a late October storm meets up with a regular winter low-pressure system and gives us this ridiculous combination of a nor’easter and a hurricane that comes ashore, bringing all kinds of destructive effects." We’re also joined by climate scientist Greg Jones from Southern Oregon University. [includes rush transcript]

  • Nuclear Plants from Virginia to Vermont Could Be Impacted from Massive Hurricane Sandy

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    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has acknowledged the massive Sandy storm could impact both coastal and inland nuclear power plants. At least 16 reactors are in the storm’s projected path, including North Anna and Surry in Virginia; Calvert Cliffs in Maryland; Oyster Creek, Hope Creek and Salem in New Jersey; Indian Point in New York; Millstone in Connecticut; and Vermont Yankee. So far, there have been no reports of reactors shutting down, despite operating under licenses that require them to do so if weather conditions are too severe. "The biggest problem, as I see it right now, is the Oyster Creek plant, which is on Barnegat Bay in New Jersey," says former nuclear executive Arnie Gundersen, noting it lies in the projected eye of the storm. "Oyster Creek is the same design, but even older than Fukushima Daiichi unit 1. It’s in a refueling outage. That means that all the nuclear fuel is not in the nuclear reactor, but it’s over in the spent fuel pool. And in that condition, there’s no backup power for the spent fuel pools. So, if Oyster Creek were to lose its offsite power — and, frankly, that’s really likely — there would be no way cool that nuclear fuel that’s in the fuel pool until they get the power reestablished. ... The most important lesson we can take out of the Fukushima Daiichi and climate change, and especially with Hurricane Sandy, is that we can’t expect to cool these fueling pools." [includes rush transcript]

  • Hurricane Sandy Kills 51 in Haiti, Leaving Behind Fears of Disease Outbreak and Growing Toll

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    As Hurricane Sandy makes its way to the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, it has already left behind a trail of destruction in Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba. Government officials have reported 65 storm-related deaths across the Caribbean, with 51 of those in Haiti, which had three days of continuous rainfall that ended only on Friday. Flooding has since ravaged the southwestern areas of the impoverished country, and given the extent of the damage, the death toll may rise. Haiti is still suffering from the effects of Tropical Storm Isaac, which battered the country in late August, resulting in heavy flooding in the camps where some 400,000 survivors of the 2010 earthquake still live. We’re joined from the capital of Port-au-Prince by Haitian pro-democracy activist Patrick Elie. [includes rush transcript]

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