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Obama's Dubious Claim that Global Warming Caused Superstorm Sandy

During his State of the Union address, President Obama suggested that "climate change" caused Hurricane Sandy: 

But for the sake of our children and our future, we must do more to combat climate change.  Yes, it’s true that no single event makes a trend.  But the fact is, the 12 hottest years on record have all come in the last 15.  Heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and floods – all are now more frequent and intense.  We can choose to believe that Superstorm Sandy, and the most severe drought in decades, and the worst wildfires some states have ever seen were all just a freak coincidence.  Or we can choose to believe in the overwhelming judgment of science – and act before it’s too late.   

As Dr. Martin Hoerling of the National Oceanic and Atmosopheric Administration said in an NPR interview in October 2012, that's just not true: 

SIEGEL: And, first, broadly speaking, did you see this gigantic storm as something caused by changes in climate?

HOERLING: No. By and large, this is a storm that comes rarely but has come before. It's interesting. You can go back sometime, a storm that some call the Long Island and Norfolk Hurricane of 1821. And the storm surge at the Battery was greater than the one, Sandy, that happened just Monday evening.

 SIEGEL: But for a lot of us laymen, there is at least a strong impression that extreme weather events are just happening more and more frequently. Is there actually a profusion of extreme weather events? And should that be more problematic than the causality of one particular storm or another?

HOERLING: There are certain extremes for which the data indicate, pretty unequivocally, that climate change - the warming of the planet - is causing them to increase in frequency. Most noteworthy are heat waves, record daily temperatures that are eclipsing previous record values. And that's entirely consistent with a planet as a whole that's moving toward warmer conditions.

SIEGEL: But hurricanes?

HOERLING: No.

SIEGEL: There is no correlation, you're saying.

HOERLING: No, there isn't. There's no - let me say this way, there is really low confidence that climate change has affected the frequency or intensity, or tracks of these disturbances.

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