December 13, 2012 11:39AM

A Poor Excuse for Even Poorer Legislation

According to The Hill, yesterday Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer (D‑CA) told reporters, “I am going to form a climate change caucus, because people are coming up to me, they really want to get into this. I think Sandy changed a lot of minds.”

Changed a lot of minds about what? As I have pointed out, the link between “superstorm” Sandy and anthropogenic climate change is weak, and weaker still is our understanding of whether climate change strengthened or weakened Sandy. But regardless of whether or not human greenhouse gas emissions impacted Sandy in some detectable way, it is certain that Congressional attempts to drive down U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will have absolutely zero detectable impact of such storm systems, and any other type of extreme weather you can think of.

Why? Because, as I have shown, under business‐​as‐​usual scenarios, the U.S. greenhouse gas emissions are only expected to be responsible for maybe 7% of the total global human greenhouse effect impact over the course of this century. Detecting a human impact on extreme weather systems is already hard enough (due to human‐​signal to natural‐​noise ratio problems), and detecting only 7% of it is impossible (and 7% is the best case scenario if all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions forever ceased starting tomorrow, which, I can assure you, will not be the case).

Sandy is a poor excuse to pursue even poorer legislation.