All eyes have been focused on this year's 100 year storm known as Hurricane Sandy, which peaked at Category 2 strength before making landfall in New Jersey with 80 mph winds. The hurricane has been labelled as "Frankenstorm" by a number of people, seeing the storm as a product of warmer than usual water off the Atlantic coast and man-made global warming that is just now starting to take effect.
The hurricane has already moved inland and the damage from the storm is only just now starting to become apparent. In many areas, the damage is one for the record books:
1 -- The storm left 8.6 million people without power, mostly in New Jersey and New York.
2 -- New York City went dark with the lights out in Manhattan as storm surges reach a record 13.88 feet with many downtown streets flooded before receding.
3 -- Gasoline shortages have come up in New Jersey in the aftermath of the storm.
4 -- Property damage is already estimated to be $20 billion or more with more surveying of the aftermath still taking place. The numbers could be much higher, in the order of $50 billion, once the dust settles. This would make Hurricane Sandy one of the most expensive natural disasters in US history.
5 -- The NYSE and Nasdaq exchanges were closed for 2 days, the first 2 day closure due to weather since 1888. Trading resumed today with markets mostly trading in a narrow range.
The storm was over 1000 miles in diameter at its peak with hurricane force winds as far as 175 miles from the center and tropical force winds as far as 500 miles from the center. Some areas in West Virginia received up to 3 feet of snow, Maryland was hit by a massive blizzard and even the Great Lakes area was affected with winds as high as 60 mph in Chicago with waves over 30 feet high. This is the second year in a row that the northern Atlantic coast was hit with hurricane force winds (see this post about Hurricane Irene and its aftermath last year). Before Hurricane Irene, one would have to go all the way back to 1954 to find a comparable event, when Hurricane Hazel struck the same region of the Atlantic coast. Going even farther back, no comparable event is found until 1888, when the Great Blizzard of 1888 struck.
Having the same area hit by a 100 year storm 2 years in a row can only be due to the effects of man made climate change that is now starting to kick in as a result of the abuse of fossil fuels that has been taking place for many decades. Even with the evidence mounting that man made global warming is for real, there is still evidence that people in the political, business, and corporate world are still in denial (and will be for many more decades):
1 -- The Obama Administration continues pushing forward with the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, with many protesters arrested. The arrest of people protesting the Keystone XL project was taken to the next level with the arrest of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who has been critical of both Obama and Romney on energy policy.
2 -- Lobbyists for the coal industry go on a massive ad buying spree advertising the benefits of coal exports with much of the coal slated to enter Chinese markets. The result is greenhouse gases pumped into the atmosphere at an accelerated clip.
3 -- The mainstream media continues to be in denial over the reality of man made climate change, as climate change is not even brought up at all even as news coverage on the storm and its aftermath continue around the clock. The same is true with newspaper coverage in which there is a lot of coverage on the storm, but no mention of climate change.
4 -- Oil companies are in full denial over the reality of climate change as evidenced by an oil capacity construction boom in which efforts are under way to increase oil production capacity to 110 million barrels a day by 2020. The increased oil production capacity is projected to raise the planet's average temperature by as much as 8 degrees Celsius.
During bull markets (when social mood is trending positive), governments have no problem coming up with the money to rebuild in the aftermath of disaster and helping affected communities get back on their feet. It is another matter when a long term bear market is unfolding. During long term bear markets, governments are constrained by budget cuts, tax revenue drying up, and the general mindset that comes with negative social mood, namely, limits and conservation. It is especially the case when a deflationary collapse is unfolding in full force. We are already getting a taste of the implications of trying to rebuild communities affected by natural disaster during a long term bear market.
Last year, in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, Rep. Ron Paul was quoted as saying "there is no magic with FEMA" and House Rep. Eric Cantor wanted the cost of disaster relief to be offset with cuts elsewhere. At that point, I had made a forecast concerning FEMA:
It would not at all be farfetched if FEMA were abolished altogether in 2017 during the Bachmann Administration Period under the pretense of balancing the budget.
There is already evidence that this forecast is on track to being fulfilled in 2017. Mitt Romney is now on record for wanting to cut FEMA out of federal spending, sending the responsibility of disaster relief to the states, under the pretense of balancing the budget, having made the plan known during a GOP Primary debate. Mitt Romney labelled spending on disaster relief as "immoral" during the debate, saying that deficit reduction and debt reduction have higher priority. Austerity measures that are set to kick in due to the "fiscal cliff" will also compromise FEMA's ability to respond to natural disasters with a loss of $878 million in annual funding in the pipeline.
The ability of government to respond to natural disasters is an issue that people should be thinking about, considering that one of the implications of "The Great Deflation" is budget cuts at all levels of government. In particular, if a major hurricane were to strike a populated area during the third phase of "The Great Deflation" (Cycle wave y down (2021 - 2042) of Supercycle wave (a) down (2000 - 2042)), the affected areas will very likely be on their own with power remaining shut down for a number of years and rebuilding efforts in the affected areas delayed for years (if not a decade or more) due to austerity measures in play during that time.
On the longer term, Hurricane Sandy is a harbinger of the effects of climate change that will play out during "The Great Tribulation" (Supercycle wave (c) down (2076 - 2118)). The worst of man made global warming is very likely to unfold during that time, possibly with the Atlantic coast hit with hurricanes of Category 5+ on an annual basis. There is already recognition among scientists that man made global warming is for real. It will be a very long time before people in the political, business, and corporate world, along with the mainstream media, finally come to a recognition that man made global warming is for real -- that point should occur when the center of Cycle wave I down (2076 - 2082) of Supercycle wave (c) down (2076 - 2118) is reached and result in the "Global Warming Panic". By then, the full force of the effects of climate change will already be playing out throughout the world.