Climate

Did Climate Change Contribute To The Minneapolis Bridge Collapse?

UPDATE:  Turns out it was legitimate to ask weather the temperature played a role — the feds did examine this issue in detail, but ultimately concluded it was not a factor (see their final report here, page 126).

bridge-collapse.jpgThe thought didn’t cross my mind until my Minneapolis-based brother suggested it. I had asked him for his thoughts on the collapse, and that is the question he posed.

I was skeptical at first, but after doing a Google search — and after NBC reported Sunday that National Transportation Safety Board investigators are “looking at everything” including “the weather” — I think it is a legitimate question to ask.

First, though, why is it an important question to ask? NASA’s James Hansen says we are on the verge of turning the earth into “a different planet” thanks to uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve seen the Brits and Chinese link recent flooding tragedies driven by extreme weather to climate change.

We are all facing far more extreme heat waves, floods, wildfires, rainstorms, droughts and hurricanes — yet our infrastructure apparently can’t handle the weather we have today, as Hurricane Katrina revealed. If we don’t adopt aggressive actions to prevent catastrophic climate change, we need to seriously climate-proof our electric grid, our levees, and our water and sewage systems.

The question remains, do we need to climate-proof our bridges, does a connection exist between climate change and the collapse of the I-35W bridge? Consider what a meteorologist who worked in the city for years blogged:

Now the questions begin. Why did this happen? Structural integrity will obviously be a huge concern. Minnesota experiences extreme temperature fluctuations throughout the year and this summer has been extremely hot and humid. During my time working there, road buckling from extreme heat was very common. You have to wonder if the bridge buckled.

And consider the remarkable conclusion of one Minneapolis resident:

Several eyewitnesses reported seeing what looked like “explosions” coming up from the concrete roadway just prior to the collapse. I am reasonably certain that authorities and investigators will find that the extreme heat of the last several days in Minneapolis had caused the expansion joints in the bridge to close completely. When this happens, the pressure building up between the sections of concrete can amount to thousands of pounds per square-inch.

As the pressure goes beyond the compressive strength of the concrete, the roadway will “buckle”. When this happens on a regular highway, it is a major or minor nuisance, depending upon the size of the buckle. However, a truss bridge is a delicate balance of tension and compression in the structural components.

If the buckling broke this delicate balance and permitted one or both of the vertical members over the piers to shift off vertical (even slightly), a chain reaction would follow that could (and, likely, would) pull down many connecting segments of the bridge on either side of the primary supporting piers. These piers, in this specific case, were about 478 feet apart.

One UK structural engineer said the idea that “hot weather contributed to the accident by weakening the concrete or expanding the steel framework was not a likely explanation, he added, as modern bridges are built to cope with extremes.” But I don’t I think this answers the scenario just laid out, and the question isn’t whether modern bridges are built to cope with extremes, but whether more extremes than anyone might have designed for contributed to the unusual collapse of a “structurally deficient” bridge. As noted, the NTSB itself has not ruled out the weather as a contributing factor.

Melissa Hortman of the Minnesota House of Representatives “speculated that 90-plus-degree heat Wednesday and the above-normal temperatures of the past two summers may have been a contributing factor,” and said “You wonder if this bridge was built to withstand the massive heat we have had this summer.” Or even if it was built to withstand heat, whether its structural deficiencies undermined the design integrity to a point where heat contributed to the collapse.

My brother also wonders if the low level of the Mississippi played a role. He writes that most of “Minnesota is currently under Moderate to Severe Drought conditions. The water level has been lower but the less-than-optimal conditions” could have been a stressor. “Not a cause, but one of the myriad things that can go wrong with a bridge rated among the nation’s worst, one that has been designated ‘structurally deficient‘ since 1990.”

One final point: Some may object to even asking the question, “Did climate change contribute to the Minneapolis bridge collapse?” My guess is those are the same people who deny that global warming is caused by humans or that it is a serious problem — the same people who inevitably say “we can adapt to whatever climate change there is.”

But, in my experience, those “adapters” are actually not interested in finding out what the impacts of global warming are. The Bush administration has blocked research into the impact of climate change on this country and muzzled climate scientists from discussing key climate impact issues, such as the connection between global warming and the recent increase in intense Atlantic hurricanes — which is obviously a central adaptation issue. The latest issue of Time explains, sadly, that this country still isn’t to willing to protect New Orleans from a Category Five hurricane, let alone protect it from a combination of a superhurricane and the sea level rise that is increasingly inevitable thanks to our do-nothing policy on climate change.

Those who argue against strong action today to reduce greenhouse gas emissions — the adapters who are essentially saying to climate change, “Bring it on!” — cannot criticize those who then ask the obvious adaptation question — how will climate change impact this country and its infrastructure?

Certainly climate change will have the biggest infrastructure impact on our coastal cities, water and sewage systems, levees, and electric grid. But given that a remarkable 70,000 other bridges in the country are also structurally deficient, we should seek to learn whether such troubled bridges can take the ever-growing stresses generated by global warming. We need to be as prepared as possible for a changed climate — as the Center for American Progress has previously argued. Indeed, if the adapters have their way in blocking serious efforts aimed at prevention, we’ll need to be prepared for the very worst.

[I’d like to thank my brother Dave for inspiring and helping with this post. You can read all about him here.]

111 Responses to Did Climate Change Contribute To The Minneapolis Bridge Collapse?

  1. Cliff says:

    We have to believe that the U.S. is capable of a WWII-like mobilization to reduce the chances of worst-case impacts from global warming. Yet, this is far from the same country that entered WWII, as as you point out in your book, the fear of future catastrophe is different from the fear wrought from a military attack and a blitzkrieg. With over 70,000 bridges rated structurally deficient – and with myriad other examples – we see the results of government rendered ineffectual over the past decades.

    Realistically, we are not starting from a dead stop in attacking these existing examples of neglect and also making radical changes in energy generation, transportation and all things carbon-emitting. We have to deal with a complete makeover of our system of governance, which, like the bridges, has also become structurally deficient. Fix that, and we’re only back to “dead stop” status.

  2. max says:

    You can’t seriously be implying that structural engineers aren’t a) going to plan for weather variances; and b) that bridge specs are going to be delivered based on strict weather-specific criteria. Seriously, if they never planned for the occasional hot day, or for the bridge to tolerate only 80 degree heat instead of 90 degree heat, that would be some shoddy building. But that is what you are suggesting in this — (particularly in making fun of people who are discussing adaptation). Adapters say: “if it’s happening, let’s make incremental changes at the margins, where necessary. Climate alarmists are akin to people who would pull a house from its foundations and spin it in order to screw in a lightbulb. (Instead of building all-weather bridges – which they do – let’s just tax the planet until the earth might stop warming and we can build weak climate-static bridges. Brilliant.)

  3. Joe says:

    I’m not at all certain that structural engineers imagined we wouldn’t take preventive action against structurally deficient bridges — nor am I at all certain that a bridge designed for Minneapolis in the 1960s was designed for the kind of extended heat waves — and weather extremes — that are now striking the city thanks to global warming.

    If we follow your advice and fail to take action on climate, we may well see widespread drought, brutal super hurricanes and wildfires, oceans acidifying beyond repair, and sea levels rising six inches to twelve inches A DECADE by century’s end — future generations — when they are not cursing our name — will be “adapting,” yes, just the same way that the citizens of the New Orleans “adapted” to hurricane Katrina. Not one of those survivors doesn’t wish every day that the government had taken the necessary action to prevent a catastrophe before hand.

    If you Have decided to dedicate your life to blocking action on climate change, do have a sit down with your children and tell them. They will be wondering who to blame when they are adults.

  4. Citizen of St. Paul says:

    The Collapse of the 35 W Bridge may be due to Minneapolis’s refusal to complete the Tibetan Sand Mandala Ceremony – and preserving the Mandala, instead of pouring it into the river.

  5. Joe says:

    You shouldn’t make fun of this sacred ritual…

  6. Owen McShane says:

    Many seem to assume that if Minneapolis is having warmer than normal summer temperatures this is to global changes in temperature.
    Surely, it is more likely to be from the “heat island” effect were large cities now heat their surroundings considerably – typically much more than any effects of global (ie world wide) temperature changes. Small cities in New Zealand show no change in temperature over the last hundred years.
    It might be that the engineers in the 60s did not take the heat island effect into account – although that would mean they were working to very tight specs.

  7. Joe says:

    No, the urban heat island is probably not the main problem — in part because this is a bridge over a river. The heat island is a rather slow change in the warming of urban centers, but it is true that the combination of heat island and global warming is worse than global warming by itself.

  8. Mike says:

    Wow! You did a Google search and asked your brother and came to that conclusion. Who are you really? Al Gore’s drug addled son?

  9. Joe says:

    Yes, I came to the conclusion it is a legitimate question to ask. If you read the whole post, you’ll see that lots of people think the heat may have contributed. Sure, it could be a great coincidence the collapse all happened during an extended heat wave. But the NTSB hasn’t ruled out weather as a contributing factor, so I don’t know how any else can.

    I don’t really like the name-calling — I haven’t been blocking most comments, but I think the name-calling should be avoided. I will block comments from people who misrepresent what I or others on this blog say, since that undermines the goal of having a real discussion.

  10. Leland says:

    I suppose the reasonable thing to do would be to look at the data for the area and see if has really been any hotter this year than than during previous heat waves. Perhaps corrosion, metal fatigue, and questionable design might yet be the real contributing factors.

  11. Paul says:

    Minnesota has always been a place of extreme temperatures. It gets really cold in the winter and really hot in the summer. While the possible effect of climate change on steel and concrete structures is an interesting and valid question, I think other factors – perhaps even the repair work – were at work here. It does make me wonder if there is any push toward engineering for a climate changed world.

  12. Norm says:

    As a Life long resident of Minneapolis I can say that the current weather we are experiencing is not that far off of what is “average” (it is misleading to use the term “normal”). Yes the weather has it’s affects on the bridge, however as any engineer would probably say not any more than what the bridge was designed for with the information given at the time in 1967.

    What has had a more significant impact is the diversion of budget from such things as inspections and repairs to light rail. The $750 million spent years ago, and the millions spent annually to subsidize the Hiawatha rail line boondoggle would have been better invested in the inspection and repair of the deteriorating bridges here in Minnesota.

    Yes the climate is changing, as it is on a 1500 year cycle. The sky is growing heavy not falling as so many would believe. With the economic ruin that is being prescribed by the AWG believers the sky will fall.

  13. Norman Blanchette says:

    My God. Now were blaming global warming for the bridge collaspe! Some day the world will recognize what a fool and hypocrite Al Gore really is. I hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

    NB

  14. annoyedman says:

    Would you say the same thing if Minneapolis has endured colder than average winters recently?

    What you have in the bridge collapse is the normal outfall of 1960s bridge construction technologies and engineering, combined with 40 years of winters and summers, and a general lack of spending discipline on the part of government. When cities learn that bridge and road maintenance is far more productive than pouring money into sexy new projects or entitlement programs, you avoid this kind of crap. The Golden Gate Bridge in California is a prime example of government realizing that bridge maintenance is not something you can defer. It is ongoing, and the price of NOT doing it is much higher than the cost of just doing it. The Golden Gate Bridge was completed in 1937, making it 70 years old this year. It is bigger, longer, heavier, and subjected to many more stresses, and much more powerful stresses, on a daily basis than was the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, and it is still standing. It is operated and maintained by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway & Transportation District, and it may be the only thing that the Government of California does right.

    Feckless governance begets feckless results. Minneapolis voters need to look to themselves to make the kinds of political decisions that will prevent feckless government if they want to prevent this kind of thing in the future, rather than blaming the problem on junk science for which there exists NO consensus among even close to all scientists. Theories are like assholes. Everybody has one. Stick to what you KNOW to be factually true, and deal with your physical world on that basis, and that basis alone.

    An inconvenient truth: Greenland was named “Greenland” by the Vikings for a very good reason. I suppose it was Viking viticulture and animal husbandry that cause Greenland to freeze over for a thousand years?

    To believe that puny man can alter the global climate is hubris of the first water. Try to remember that the total mass of termites on earth far exceeds the total mass of humanity.

  15. Joe says:

    Hmm. Stick to what you know.
    Greenland didn’t used to be green. Sorry, that’s just a myth.
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/03/greenland-used-to-be-green.html

    To believe that 6 billion people have no impact on the global climate — when all the scientific evidence says otherwise — is myopia of the highest order.

  16. To A T says:

    “Did Climate Change Contribute To The Minneapolis Bridge Collapse?”

    Frankly, I think your argument is more strained and twisted than the bridge. What a sad attempt to politically exploit this tragedy.

  17. heldmyw says:

    It’s El Nino! Illegal immigrant weather attacking my infrastructure!

    Gah!

    I need some Gold Bond… That’ll fix it!

    This is truly the funniest thing I’ve read in a month. To quote Bugs Bunny, (second only to Joe Romm in comedic brilliance); “What a maroon!”

  18. LJ says:

    Natural disasters before global warming..

    Japan, 1181: famine (100,000 dead)

    Holland, 1228: sea flood (100,000 dead)

    Europe and Asia, 1346-52: Bubonic plague or “black
    death” (one third of the European population dead plus millions in Asia
    and North Africa for a total of 25 million)

    Bengal, India, 1769: famine (10 million dead)

    India, 1775: Tsunami (60,000 dead)

    Northamerica, 1775-82: Smallpox (130,000 dead)

    Caribbeans, 1780: Hurricane (22,000 dead)

    Japan, 1826: Tsunami (27,000 dead)

    Ireland, 1845: famine (one million dead)

    India, 1864: Cyclone (70,000 dead)

    India, 1875-78: Famine (10 million dead)

    Bangladesh, 1876: Cyclone (200,000 dead)

    China, 1876-78: Drought (9 million dead)

    China, 1881: Typhoon (300,000 dead)

    Indonesia, 1883: Tsunami (36,000 dead)

    Huayan Kou, China, 1887: Yang-tse Kiang flooding (one
    million dead)

    Sanriku, Japan, 1896: Tsunami (27,000 dead)

    Galveston, 1900: Hurricane (8,000 dead)

    China, 1907: famine (20 million dead)

    Hebei, China, 1920-21: famine (500,000 dead)

    Ukraine, 1921: Famine (5 million dead)

    China, 1928: Famine (3 million dead)

    Florida, USA, 1928: Hurricane (1800 dead)

    China, 1931: Flooding (3.7 million dead)

    Ukraine and Russia, 1932: Famine (5 million dead)

    China, 1936: Famine (5 million dead)

    New York, USA, 1938: Rains (600 dead)

    China, 1941: Famine (3 million dead)

    Bengal, India, 1943: famine (3.5 million dead)

    Holland, 1953: Sea flood (1,794 dead)

    Iran, 1953: Rain flood (10,000 dead)

    Louisiana, USA, 1957: Hurricane (400 dead)

    Japan, 1958: Typhoon (5,000 dead)

    China, 1958-61: Famine (38 million dead)

    India, 1965: Famine (1.5 million dead)

    China, 1969: Famine (20 million dead)

    Bangladesh, 1970: Sea flood (200-500,000 dead)

    Vietnam, 1971: Red River flood (100,000 dead)

    Bangladesh, 1974: floods (28,000 dead)

    Ethiopia, 1974: famine (200,000 dead)

    Andhra Pradesh, India, 1977: cyclone (10,000 dead)

    Caribbeans, 1979: Hurricane (2,000 dead)

    Bangladesh, 1991: tsunami (138,000 dead)

    All I can say is, think how much worse it would have been
    with

    GLOBAL Warming!!

  19. Joe says:

    Uhh, I hate to break it to you, but it is going to get much, much worse assuming the deniers succeed in blocking efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  20. LJ says:

    Can you say, little ice age or Medieval Warm Period. The climate changes. With out SUV’s. When one volcano can put out as much as all the cars in the last 100 years, I think that its a mute point.
    Look you will not convence me or I will not convence you so whats the point.
    Have a great day,
    Try not to worry too much. Hey the dinosaurs like it hot, well until that big SUV fell from the sky and cooled things down a bit.

  21. Drew Daughtry says:

    You don’t think:
    1. The bridge just “wore out”?
    2. Someone made a mistake?
    3. Repairs were neglected or shoddy?

    You prefer to think global warming is the reason it gets cold, gets hot, causes floods, and causes droughts. It is amazing to me to think that this this planet that is millions and millions (billions if you prefer) years old, can be destroyed in only a couple hundred.

    Global Warming will be answer to a couple things. First, higher taxes and second, turing this democracy into a socialistic state.

    The latter might be what you prefer. If it is, then come out and say it, instead of hiding behind the greatest farce since Darwin.

  22. snowballs says:

    Wind is a much bigger issue than temperature variation in structural engineering of a bridge.

  23. Joe says:

    Moot point, only from a debating perspective, LJ. Assuming those like you and Drew succeed in blocking action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then I’m afraid the planet is going to keep getting hotter, and the weather more extreme (see next post), whether or not you believe it.

    You both have the Denier talking points down pat. I would ask you to tell your children you are one of those working to block action, so they’ll know who to blame.

    Don’t know where you got the volcano claim. It is quite wrong.

    Bridges aren’t supposed to wear out in 40 years. I do think this was an improperly maintained bridge that was subject to a lot of stress. The NTSB is not excluding the impact of weather, nor am I.

    I don’t think global warming will destroy the planet. But it will make life unpleasant for us (and most living things). I’d rather not subject the next 50 generations to 6 – 12 inches per decade of sea level rise, brutual heatwaves, whip-sawing of extreme drought and extreme flooding that will dislocate hundreds of millions.

  24. Anti-Anarchist says:

    “You both have the Denier talking points down pat”

    “I will block comments from people who misrepresent what I or others on this blog say, since that undermines the goal of having a real discussion.”

    Wow, for someone who wants ‘discussion’ you sure are quick to call people ‘Denier’. I don’t know what part of LJ’s post you missed, or what others have posted about the Little Ice Age & Medieval Warming Period. Global warming is snake oil. Sounds to me like you are the ‘Denier’ for not listening to others viewpoints.

  25. Paul says:

    The bridge collapsed because the sky fell on it.

    The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

    See. It is windy today. The sky is falling!

    Also… Emperor Gore is naked.

  26. annoyedman says:

    Joe said: “Hmm. Stick to what you know.
    Greenland didn’t used to be green. Sorry, that’s just a myth.
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/ 2006/ 03/ greenland-used-to-be-green.html

    To believe that 6 billion people have no impact on the global climate — when all the scientific evidence says otherwise — is myopia of the highest order.”

    You can quote historical revisionists all you want to poo-poo Erik the Red (“Was he red?” puhleeze). The FACT is that Viking settlers in Greenland grew grapes there. That is borne out by the archeological record. Either A) those were some really hardy neanderthal grapes, impervious to blizzards and ice caps; or B) Coby Beck is a feckin liar. And you have the chutzpah to call folks like me “deniers.”

  27. snowballs says:

    Don’t know where you got the volcano claim. It is quite wrong.

    How do you know it’s wrong then?

    Volcanism is the largest contributor to climate change – bar none.

    1991 Pinatubo -0.5° C

    1980 Mt. St. Helens -0.5° C

    1815 Tambora -1° C

    ~75 K years ago Toba -4° C (conservative estimate based on geologic evidence)

    These are significant changes in the average global temperature that happen in a matter of weeks – not decades or centuries. For example, a 1° C (worldwide) average can translate to as much as 10° C or more change in certain areas.

    This claim you are making about climate change impacting structures that should be more resilient than a few degrees in temperature is preposterous at best.

    I don’t disagree that 1) this planet is filthy because of mankind and 2) we need to continue a sensible discussion on what our footprint really is based on mankind’s existence, and if necessary, do something about it.

    However, the discussion at this time in my opinion has really been reduced to finger pointing and ridiculous political agenda driven nonsense – and that’s a shame because it’s a discussion that’s needed.

    So, I would say to you Joe, and others who agree with Al Gore and all of the (mankind-caused) Global Warming alarmists that you need to bring the conversation back to a sensible level and maybe the skeptics and naysayers might be willing to join the discussion. Why you? Because you guys started it. Let’s talk when you guys are ready to get off of your high horse and get serious about this.

  28. Joe says:

    As you can see, I do not block even the most misinformed of Deniers. Deniers have very standard views that allow them to be identified quickly — they repeat the long-debunked “natural cycles” argument in one form or another, Medieval Warm Period being a major example. They also accuse people who are trying to stave off catastrophe of being socialists.

    I confess that while I listen to all other viewpoints, I don’t just them equally. If, for instance, hundreds of scientists and thousands of scientific papers say one thing, I credit that would more credibility than, say someone who calls global warming snake oil or accuses me of being a socialist.

  29. Dean says:

    Sigh…

    sigh….

    Heavy sigh….

    Three times in your article you mention that hte bridge was “Structurally deficient”. what do you think that term means? that everything is fine?

    Structurally deficient means that the bridge cannot support the weight it was designed to support. I’ve heard that they were working on the bridge. It’s entrirely possible something the workers did made it even more deficient. But to say that global warming did this when the weather’s not been that warm there (compared to averages) is a REAL stretch.

    I personally believe that ignoring that a bridge was falling apart for 17 years is a MUCH more likely explaination.

  30. Drew Daughtry says:

    Dean you are correct in your diagnosis. Things happen.

    But this article is not about a bridge falling, its about selling the myth of global warning. Global warming is a tool for liberal to tax and control our daily lives. Tell us what to drive, where to live, and how to do it.

    If I recall, that sounds a little socialist to me.

  31. Paul K says:

    I note another Paul in the comments so I’ll go by Paul K since I come to this sight to learn, not argue. As to volcanoes, they are a source of particulate and sulpher pollutants which would explain global cooling after major eruptions. Particulate pollution has also been cited as contributing to arctic ice loss.

  32. Drew Daughtry says:

    If Greenland wasn’t green, then how is it a recent drilling found a forest under the ice?

    A recent study suggests that aerosols contribute to WARMING; not cooling.

    Please cite a reputable, peer-reviewed paper that “debunks” natural climate cycles.

  33. Frak says:

    Are you effing serious? I think my IQ might have dropped several points after reading this nonsense.

  34. Bob says:

    Did Global Warming Cause the Collapse.

    No, you f’ing morons, it didn’t! Good God – is there anything you WON’T blame of the global warming scam.

    Rosie said that airplanes on fire with 1000 degree temps can’t melt steel. She said the fire has never melted steel, and now you say that an increase in temp of 2 degrees caused a bridge to collapse. Are you people that stupid? Have you no ability to think logically about anything?

    You global warming lemmings are a joke. Literally. You are a joke.

  35. Patton says:

    THIS IS JUST PLAIN SICK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU AND THE PEOPLE AGREEING WITH THIS ARE MORBID FREAKS!!!

  36. Gregg Locke says:

    Joe,

    Could you cite to a couple of the “scientific papers” you rely on for your claim the the MWP has been “debunked” as being the result of a natural climate cycle? I’d really like to see cites to something besides the IPCC reports, or Michael Mann and the “hockey stick.”

    Also, don’t you think that referring to those who question the certainty of AGW as ‘deniers’ immediately takes any AGW discussion from a scientific to a political track? ‘Denier’ is a loaded word, intended to take focus off the merits of the AGW arguments by equating AGW skeptics with Nazis. Too often these days both sides derail what should be scientific inquiry in this way. Science should not be conducted by ad hominen argument, or by ‘consensus’ for that matter. One pillar of the scientific method is falsification–scientists search to prove the validity of a claim by repeatedly trying to show it is wrong. You shouldn’t vilify those who question AGW theory, you should commend their efforts.

  37. Al says:

    To all you “deniers”,
    The Gor(e)acle has spoken.
    “The consensus is in.”
    “There is no more debate”

    Translation: “This is what we think and we refuse to discuss it.”

  38. luctoretemergo says:

    This just in: NOAA US-wide temperature data for July, 2007. 17th warmest July since 1901. It seems that with the exception of 1998, the other warmest months of July occurred in 1930-40s. 9 years worth of satellite data confirm that 1] GW is not happening and 2] that the IPCC climate models are meaningless. To blame the bridge catastrophy on ma-made global warming is cynical and irresponsible in the extreme.

  39. Gary Beauchamp says:

    I have noted that almost every calamity of late, natural or otherwise, is caused by global warming. Such inane conclusions or even queries cast serious doubt on the credibility of you alarmists. It has become a secular religion. Now the bridge disaster could be caused by global warming! What caused prior disasters in the earth’s history before we supposedly caused warming? The elite such as the Kennedys don’t want wind farms to spoil their view so where will they be put, near the neighborhoods of average people like myself, surely not near the homes of college professors, big media types or movies stars. I’ve had it with hearing about “carbon footprints” & the coming demise of mankind because of global warming & ridiculous articles such as the one relating the bridge disaster as possibly due to warming just increase my skepticism.

  40. Wesley says:

    What a maroon!

    Galileo was a denier. Einstein was a denier. Many sought to shut them up in the same manner the Blessed Church of the Immaculate Global Warming wishes to do today. I am still waiting to hear one of their Bishops or Priests explain how man is causing the global warming we are seeing on other planets in the system. Still waiting to hear one explain how the current temperature is an ideal temperature and we must somehow find a way to keep it there. Still waiting to hear how those poor polar bears somehow managed to survive into this century when they were around at a time when the world was much warmer than it is now. The one thing I am certain about is that there will be a time, and probably not that far off, when people will look back at this time and laugh.

  41. beefeater says:

    Congratulations!!! You have made the Limbaugh show! That must have been the goal of this MOONBAT post.

  42. beefeater says:

    WooHoo you made the Limbaugh Show!!! That’s what you were trying for, right?

  43. Smitty says:

    Whether you believe global warming to be true or not there is one glaring flaw in this theory. The winters in Minnesota have been unusually warm over the past ten years or so, give or take. The summers, on the other hand, have fluctuated from year-to-year as always. Even if you attribute the winters’ warming to man-made greenhouse gas, the warmer winters is less reason to point to global warming as a cause. The extreme highs and lows from summer to winter have stabilized, thus creating a less structurally harmful environment. IMHO.

  44. AmeriDan says:

    This is parody, right? With maybe a little satire thrown in?

    “The thought didn’t cross my mind until my Minneapolis-based brother suggested it. I had asked him for his thoughts on the collapse, and that is the question he posed.

    I was skeptical at first, but after doing a Google search — and after NBC reported Sunday that National Transportation Safety Board investigators are “looking at everything” including “the weather” — I think it is a legitimate question to ask.”

    Thought didn’t cross your mind-check
    Brother (a native) brings up GW-check
    You’re skeptical at first-check
    You google search-check
    NTSB looking at “everything”-check.

    That’s darn funny stuff, and to keep in the spirit of the game you’re playing…

    What is your CARBON FOOTPRINT? I hope it’s neutral. If not, you are a CARBONHAWK!

  45. Dave Romm says:

    Hmmm… typical responses from the discredited right. Ad hominems slung at Al Gore, (who’s been right all along), hate radio talking points that have long since been shot down, and very little discussion of the actual issues that I raised and that Joe researched in depth. To repeat:

    Bridge and other infrastructure are built to a specific site. They are built to withstand extreme ranges of temperate and water levels, but they are not built to withstand changes in climate. A structure that exists in different conditions than it was optimally designed for will be under greater stress than one that exists within its optimal tolerances.

    An example would be a bridge that is washed out by flooding; it wasn’t designed for that. When less dramatic overall conditions change, the stresses are less dramtic but will add up over time and will increase the danger when other stress factors are present.

    I live about three miles from the I-35W bridge, and have been over it many times. The weather has caused many problems, including an exploding transformer near my building. How much did climate change affect the I-35W bridge? I don’t know, but it’s worth looking into.

    We’ve seen what a lack of preparedness can do in New Orleans. Farther up the Mississippi, the immediacy might not be so apparent, but we can’t ignore the warning signs. The US Army Corps of Engineers will face many challenges. The whining from the “tax cuts! tax cuts!” crowd is going to get people killed.

  46. mfa says:

    Wouldn’t it be prudent to establish whether the Twin Cities region is in fact extremely warm this summer? Thankfully, NOAA comes through at this link http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mpx/Climate/MSPClimate.php (but only back to 1995). What’s interesting is that, while the last three Julys (sp?) have been a bit warm, it was July 2006 that was really hot, almost 6F warmer than the average; July 2007 is barely more than a degree above the mean. Which begs the question: If heat knocked down the bridge, why didn’t it fall last summer?

    Of course, if 1-2F is enough to knock a bridge down, then I agree with Joe, we are in very serious trouble!! We’d best therefore stop depending on our feeble government to help us, if they can’t even hold up a bridge on an August afternoon. Let’s privatize the bridge, and all the other big bridges, and while we’re at it, all the other major roadways. Privately run toll roads would manage traffic, maintenance, structural deficiencies, and costs far better than our government has been able to; and we wouldn’t have to worry about “dedicated” transportation tax dollars mysteriously diverted to other “priorities”.

    Heck, let’s privatize everything we can think of. If the Warmers really aren’t socialists, surely they’ll go along with what most people intuitively understand is the only way we can adapt, right, Joe? Limits on free enterprise, property ownership, and investment will contract our economy, DIRECTLY hindering our ability to adapt to this terrifying nightmare of Gaia’s wrath. (That’s why carbon taxes and ethanol subsidies are stupid.) Expansion of all of these principles, including broadly into our transportation sector, can enhance our wealth and therefore our ingenuity, not to mention our safety. If climate doom is just around the corner, I want us to have as much money available to throw at the problem as we can have.

    Sorry about the soap box.

  47. Gregg Locke says:

    Gary Beauchamp,

    For a complete list of phenomena allegedly caused by AGW, Google “warmlist.” There’s a site that keeps track of everything the alarmists claim is caused by AGW. good for a laugh.

  48. Marc Hertz says:

    The next thought from your think tank is gonna be about Bush showing up on the scene so soon because MPLS is a mostly white community. Keep up the good work. Pick your topics and ruin with them. (not a typo)

  49. Jack Thomas says:

    Joseph J. Romm is a classic polar-left non-normie and he’ll be featured Friday as my non-normie of the day on http://www.non-normie.com.

    Jack Thomas

  50. Hayden says:

    > Did climate change contribute to the Minneapolis
    > bridge collapse?

    This is an absolutely stupid suggestion, and you people who are trying to blame every last pejorative happening on climate change are doing very serious damage to the cause.

    This bridge undergoes ~100 F in temperature swings every year. The thought that another 1-2 F is going to make any difference is really stupid, and just indicates your lack of scientific and engineering foundations.

    Shut up before you do any more damage to the real problem of getting the world to take climate change seriously.

  51. Joe says:

    I do appreciate all these comments. I didn’t blame the collapse on global warming, no matter how many times people say so.

    I am glad that so many people are so certain that they know what questions to rule out before the NTSB does. It will be very interesting when they report what the precipitating cause was and then what the underlying contributors were. Something obviously weakened that bridge. A number of people think that heat contributed. Yes July 2006 was hotter — one may ask whether that weakened the bridge also. Perhaps the work on the bridge is what put it over the edge.

    The issue with warming is not so much an an additional 1 or 2°F, but more and longer and stronger heat waves — and the impact of such extended intense heat waves constantly repeated. I don’t think it’s the steel that the heat affects so much as the concrete — as two of the people I cite suggest.

    As I said in my post, the people who have the biggest problem with this question don’t believe in global warming is a problem that warrants serious attention. The IPCC report pretty well kills the natural cycle myth. Anyone interested in finding out about myths like “other planets are warming” or “the Medieval Warm Period” should check out realclimate.org — but you have to first believe scientists. If you don’t, then you won’t be convinced.

    I do think that the vast majority of people posting here will live long enough to realize that the vast majority of climate scientists — and people like Al Gore — were right. The great tragedy is that the Deniers are probably going to be successful at blocking action to avoid the worst — and by the time they realize how tragically mistaken they were, it will be too late.

  52. stirfry says:

    “The IPCC report pretty well kills the natural cycle myth”

    Myth? You have to be the most ignorant person in the world to state that the natural climate cycles of the earth are a myth. Incredibly stupid thing to say. Have you ever heard of an ice age?

    And Micheal Mann, of broken hockey stick fame, is the person behind realclimate. The site is biased and hardly the last word on climate.

  53. colin says:

    a letter to the author of this so called news story.

    When a friend forwarded this to me I thought it was a joke. I was very sad to discover it was not. That you can truly believe this is a legitimate question to ask, shows the dreadful condition of our education system, and the laughable joke our media has become. It is one of my dearest hopes and dreams that the day will come that we as a country begin to hold the media accountable for what it publishes. When you publish completely unfounded stories of this nature all you do is create hysteria and worse – FEAR, and you do not do it for noble reasons, you do it for aclaim.
    So, wake-up, you will be held accountable for your actions!!!!
    Stay with what you know – you are not an engineer, you are not a transportation inspector. When you write a story, report the facts, allow those in the know to form opinion and policy, it is not your job to tell others what to think. Since you have forgetten this, or perhaps never understood it, go back to school until you do, and quit wasting our time with your ignorant, and dangerous ramblings.

  54. Joe says:

    The “Natural Cycles Myth” is the myth that the warming we are experiencing now is just a result of the kind of natural cycles of warming and cooling we’ve seen in the past. Of course the climate changed in the past, but what the Deniers fail to realize is the climate changed in the past because it was forced to change, usually by changes in the Earth’s orbit, but sometimes by the release of greenhouse gases.

    We are emitting GHGs into the atmosphere at a rate more than 100 times faster than have ever occurred naturally.

    Today we know that the forcing we are creating by emitting billions of tons of GHGs into the atmosphere each year will soon equal the forcing comparable to that which sent us into an ice age or pulled us out. The notion that that won’t change the climate is absurd. In fact, the changes we are seeing today are already exactly what has been predicted by climate scientists for over two decades (see my recent extreme weather post).

    It is interesting to me how upset people get with posing a question. Most of those who get upset turn around and then question the work of thousands of scientists and by doing so help to undermine any chance of serious action on climate. Assuming we don’t take serious action in the next decade, then sometime in the 2020s, I think, it will be obvious to everyone that we have really started to ruin this Garden of Eden — and we will begin a desperate race against time, which I fear we will lose.

    I actually think most people will be held accountable for their actions in the sense that they will live long enough to realize just how wrong they were in doubting the danger of human-caused climate change — and that will be a painful realization, albeit not a sufficient accounting for the damage that we will be doing to the next 50 generations that walk this planet.

  55. Gregg Locke says:

    The IPCC report relies almost exclusively on Mann”s “hockey stick” temperature reconstructions to “debunk” the “myth” of the MWP. Even Mann’s work acknowledges evidence of a MWP–he merely contends that it was a regional, and not global phenomenon. In any case, Mann’s work has been the subject of withering criticism. Both his use of tree ring temperature proxies (especially bristlecone pines) and his statistical methodology are probably flawed. Moreover, the reliability of the instrumental data he uses in his analysis is also subject to criticism. Couple this with the inability of computer climate models to reproduce what is known about the past, and it seems to me that the “science” of Mann and the IPCC (not to mention their mouthpiece, RealClimate) still requires some serious testing. Another problem seems to be that the authors of many AGW screeds fail to make available their data and methods for others to test. This raises a questions in my mind of whether they are pursuing science or politics.

    The point is, despite a meaningless “consensus” about AGW, maybe because of the consensus, serious scientists should continue to test and try to falsify the AGW theory. Let the politicians do what they will with whatever evidence they want to grab on to. Don’t try to stop scientists from testing the underpinnings of AGW theory by claiming “ther science is settled.” The science is never settled.

  56. Ron says:

    Colin,

    One place to start is in our schools.

    Last year my son’s 6th grade science teacher ‘taught’ climate change to his classes by showing Al Gore’s slideshow and just leaving it at that. He made absolutely no effort to teach any science about the issue. In fact, he told his students that ‘humans are a virus to Mother Earth’. When I challenged him publicy to teach some real science and critical thinking, or at least back up the propaganda film with some evidence, he basically threw a tantrum – and now he is not teaching there any longer.

    Sending journalists back to school to learn to think won’t help at this point. We need to teach the current generation of students how to think.

    Do you know what your kids are being taught in school? Find out! The teachers should not be indoctrinating, they should be teaching our kids how to think for themselves. Hold the teachers’ feet to the fire until they begin teaching as they are supposed to.

  57. paminator says:

    Hayden- As you say, “the thought that another 1-2 F is going to make any difference is really stupid…”

    That applies to every scare scenario put forward by the IPCC.

    Its not even clear how much the climate has changed over the past 100 years, because it is impossible to measure a 0.005 F/year temperature trend from temperature records that swing over 100 F every year, especially from the weather stations that have been used to make these measurements.

    Start praying that solar cycle 24 starts soon. Or, MN is in for some really cold winters by 2020.

  58. David says:

    I am a science journalist, and contrary to Ron’s comment, we DO think. We have covered this topic for about two decades, and although he doesn’t like it, the evidence and the theory are in, and there is now essentially no doubt that human are responsible for the majority of the climate change of the last 30 years. And probably more. He may be biased otherwise, but science journalists are reporting the truth as has been discovered by the scientific community. The veracity of anthropogenic global warming is now more firmly established than the safety and efficacy of many of the FDA-approved pills thrown down Ron’s gullet.

    I notice he didn’t mention his scientific credentials.

  59. Joe says:

    The National Academy of Sciences affirmed the hockey stick in 2006. As Nature magazine headlined it “”Academy affirms hockey-stick graph.” The Committee found

    “The basic conclusion of Mann et al. (1998, 1999) was that the late 20th century warmth in the Northern Hemisphere was unprecedented during at least the last 1,000 years. This conclusion has subsequently been supported by an array of evidence that includes the additional large-scale surface temperature reconstructions and documentation of the spatial coherence of recent warming described above (Cook et al. 2004, Moberg et al. 2005, Rutherford et al. 2005, D’Arrigo et al. 2006, Osborn and Briffa 2006, Wahl and Ammann in press), and also the pronounced changes in a variety of local proxy indicators described in previous chapters (e.g., Thompson et al. in press). Based on the analyses presented in the original papers by Mann et al. and this newer supporting evidence, the committee finds it plausible that the Northern Hemisphere was warmer during the last few decades of the 20th century than during any comparable period over the preceding millennium.”

    If you want to know more, try the report itself. For something shorter, go to this realclimate post.

    But if you think realclimate is untrustworthy, then you are not open to persuasion by real climate scientists, so this is all moot.

  60. snowballs says:

    It is interesting to me how upset people get with posing a question.

    Are you serious? It’s interesting to you that people get upset by yet another tragedy that has been shamelessly politicized for, of all things, Global Warming??

    What people will do for a few website hits is astonishing – tsk tsk tsk.

  61. Republican and proud of it says:

    I am amazed by the stupidity of liberals. Who in there right mind believes these false theories. I can’t believe Mr. Romm and other Al Gore liberal ignoramuses believe that in the US of A that our intelligent engineers don’t make bridges that can withstand the environment they are in. 90 degree weather and a bridge collapses, ha the stupidity of such thoughts. I suppose the liberals also think skyscrapers can blow over in the wind like a house of cards. The liberals are just trying to bring more media attention to their global warming theory.

  62. wcp says:

    Global warming, OK. I will stipulate to the fact that planet is on average warmer than sometime in the past. If the elitists, the politicians and the hollywood types are willing to change their lifestyle to stop this terrible climate change so am I. However, I will have to see some evidence of it. So far I have seen nothing but bloviation and hot air, which possibly is the real cause of the melting icecap. Until the royalty change their habits this peasant is not changing anything at all!

  63. Poptech says:

    Yes, of course the Bridge Designers did not account for a +0.24C increase in temperature over 40 years, please. Give me a break. Your crack pot theories are as bad as your nonsensical statements about Global Warming. What coastal towns are at risk from what?

    – Global mean sea level rise is in the range of 1.0 to 2.0 mm/yr. (Based on tidal guage data) (IPCC)
    – No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected. (IPCC)
    20 feet of sea level rise would take 3048-6096 years. (Based on tidal guage data) (IPCC)

    So lets see our coastal towns have to be worried about 4-8 inches of sea-level rise over 100 years. Oh the horror I wonder is we can adapt!

    The Anti “Man-Made” Global Warming Resource
    http://z4.invisionfree.com/Popular_Technology/index.php?showtopic=2050

  64. Joe says:

    Again, it isn’t the average temperature increase — if the answer to the question turns out to be “yes” it won’t be the increased AVERAGE temperature that might contributes to stressing an already deficient bridge, it is number, severity, and duration of heatwaves.

    Sea level rise in the past decade is 3 mm/yr based on satellite data as you must know. This is in fact a doubling of the rate in prior decades. Hansen and many others predict that it will continue to accelerate in a nonlinear fashion to as much as 6+ inches a decade. I’m guessing you are young enough to live to see much of that acceleration.

  65. Dadvocate says:

    You need to re-evaluate what “extreme heat” is. Looking at NOAA data you’ve only had one day above 90. In the South we have weeks above 90. Get a grip. They’ve been building expansion joints into bridges for centuries.

  66. Poptech says:

    You obviously don’t know anything about Steel:

    http://www.mace.manchester.ac.uk/project/research/structures/strucfire/materialInFire/Steel/default.htm

    300C (572F) – Steel begins to Weaken
    1500C (2732F) – Steel Melts

    So what kind of heat waves are we talking about? Hot enough to burn people alive?

    I suggest you read the IPCC report:

    http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/409.htm

    – Global mean sea level rise is in the range of 1.0 to 2.0 mm/yr. (Based on tidal guage data) (IPCC)
    – No significant acceleration in the rate of sea level rise during the 20th century has been detected. (IPCC)
    20 feet of sea level rise would take 3048-6096 years. (Based on tidal guage data) (IPCC)

  67. Joe says:

    That is the August data set. July is the relevant data.

    Again, the issue is not whether a well-designed, well maintained bridge can manage the heat — obviously it can. Only whether for a possibly misdesigned — and certainly structurally deficient and inadequately maintained bridge — it is reasonable to ask whether a heat wave contributed to this unusual, catastrophic failure. Some people I cited think so. The NTSB is apparently looking at the weather.

  68. Joe says:

    Poptech:

    You are seriously citing the Third Assessment (2001) when that has obviously been superseded by the Fourth Assessment (2007), which makes note of the recent acceleration in sea level rise? Amazing.

    And it is concrete, I think, that is the issue here, not steel.

  69. John says:

    I am amused by the response this got. Especially since Dr. Romm merely suggsted that this was a legitimate question to ask. Are the deniers som frightened that we can’t ask questions now?

    By the way, heat can cause failures. I was once unable to take off from Phoenix because the runway buckeld due to extreme heat. And they know something about heat in Phoenix. A buckling roadbed on a bridge could wreck havoc — and maybe it did. Seems like something we ought to know.

  70. Poptech says:

    Joe, you apparently did not read the 4th Assessment Report:

    http://ipcc-wg1.ucar.edu/wg1/Report/AR4WG1_Pub_Ch05.pdf

    “For the 20th century, the average rate was 1.7 ± 0.5 mm yr–1, consistent with the TAR estimate of 1 to 2 mm yr–1.” IPCC Fourth Assessment (2007)”

    Sorry Joe there is no scientific basis that heat or heat waves weakened the bridge since Steel does not begin to weaken until 525 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Steel is the Issue because it is the Steel that has to fail not the concrete road bed. Unless of course you were talking about the concrete support columns. Thermal Expansion is well known and accounted for even in 1967.

  71. Jonathan says:

    As a Civil Engineer, the audacity of this article brought a smile to my face at first read. The smile faded as I reflected on the billions of taxpayer dollars spent on environmental policy run amuck each year. I wonder if replacement of the bridge was deferred due to the tremendous cost to study and mitigate for environmental impacts. California’s Attorney General (Jerry Brown) has recently mandated that projects evaluate their potential impact on global warming. More environmental study. More environmental mitigation. Less money to protect people at risk. All to address an effect for which the cause is very much in dispute. There is your link between global warming and crumbling infrastructure.

  72. Ron says:

    John,

    Asphalt does, indeed, often buckle in the heat. Steel-reinforced concrete does not. And the surface on that bridge is concrete, not asphalt.

    Maybe a global-warming-spawned tornado recently hit the bridge and weakened it. Maybe in the middle of the night when nobody saw it. Or maybe the increased carbon dioxide in the air made it rust really really fast. Or maybe the vehicles driving over it were just too big and heavy, with their huge carbon footprints. Or maybe Mother Nature is pissed and just decided to kill a few polluters.

    Or just maybe the cause will turn out to be something like a miscalculation by an engineer. Or an incorrect assumption in the design. Or perhaps the problem began with the steel supplier. Or maybe a welder’s mistake. Or an inspector’s.

    And just perhaps I agree with Snowballs.

    We deniers might be stubborn and hard-headed, but the fear mongers will even use the tragedy of a bridge collapse in their propaganda campaign.

    David-the-science-journalist,

    You are correct. I am not a scientist. And neither are you.

    As a science journalist, do you read reports? Or do you read press releases about reports? Do you have the actual science background to understand all scientific reports, if you had the time to read them? Have you read the IPCC report, or did you only skim the Summary for Policy Makers? Are you in fact a journalist, or a technical writer?

    I, too, have a journalism background, Dave. But currently work in the field of quality control. And I can assure you of three things:

    1) The investigation into that bridge collapse is going to eventually find the problem in design, materials, workmanship, or inspection. Or some combination of those. Not in any climate or weather-related cause.

    2) I am not currently taking any prescription medications; neither am I now or ever been a drug addict (That wasn’t a very ‘journalistic’ attack, Dave).

    3) Every journalist has an agenda.

  73. Steve says:

    LOL! what a moronic premise.

    From the NOAA web site for the twin cities:

    THE TWIN CITIES ASOS CLIMATE NORMALS FOR TOMORROW
    NORMAL RECORD YEAR
    MAXIMUM TEMPERATURE (F) 82 96 1914

    and:

    TWIN CITIES CLIMATOLOGICAL VARIATIONS… TEMPERATURES
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE MINNEAPOLIS/ST PAUL MN

    ..TEMPERATURES…
    ALL TIME DAILY HIGH…………. 108 JUL 14 1936
    ALL TIME DAILY LOW………….. -34 JAN 22 1936
    AND JAN 19 1970

    1936 must have been a heck of a year! The politicians must have been confused – is the world ending in fire or ice? Oh wait, we’re still here!

  74. julian braggins says:

    I’m sure someone else noticed the report that said the expansion joints were frozen(seized up) years ago.
    What happens, the expansion of the span puts tremendous strain on the span and the point where it rests, just like using a hinge that has rusted up. the metal or the screws fail. Bad maintenance —– failure.
    Temperature ranges are factored in, way above any that are likely to be reached, look at who was responsible for maintenance.

  75. Jim says:

    Joe said:

    “In fact, the changes we are seeing today are already exactly what has been predicted by climate scientists for over two decades (see my recent extreme weather post).”

    You mean like the above average hurricane activity predicted last year…..

  76. Jack says:

    First an observation: When I saw photos/video of the bridge before the collapse, I thought, “Well, no wonder — that’s a lot of pavement, capable of carrying a lot of traffic and therefore weight, on a steel frame that is not very substantial.” I can’t claim to be an expert but I’ve known about metal fatigue since the 1960s, when my stepfather explained it. Too much weight on too light a frame eventually will fail, and the frame supporting the pavement on the Minneapolis bridge looked far less substantial than frames I have seen supporting similar amounts of pavement elsewhere.

    Second, a question about this statement in the original blog: “NASA’s James Hansen says we are on the verge of turning the earth into ‘a different planet’ thanks to uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions.” I thought that in 2005 NASA determined all the planets in our solar system are getting warmer from increased solar radiation. So is Hansen discrediting the finding of his own agency?

  77. Tom C says:

    Good grief, what a lot of wasted words. Cold temperatures are harder on steel than hot temperatures. Global warming would be expected to reduce the likelyhood of failure, not increase it.

    This summer in Mpls has been a slight bit above average, but not excessively hot. Your failure to cite any statistics about summer temperatures in Mpls shows that you are simply trying to score political points. Fortunately, many folks still have some common sense.

  78. Richard Ball says:

    We all suspected that George Bush was behind this. Thanks for the confirmation.

  79. LogicIsDead says:

    Nice parody website. Almost looks real, but no-one is that gullible.

  80. SF says:

    Are you crazy? Is this web site for real? Or is it an elaborate joke?

  81. usualidiot says:

    Mental Fatigue yes — metal fatigue no.

  82. usualidiot says:

    Actually I know — for sure — it was George W’s fault and all those lousy, lying republicans

  83. LogicIsDead says:

    It’s not a crime to ask questions, but if they aren’t intelligent ones, don’t be surprised if you get ridiculed.

    In order to ask the question posed in this article, one must have very little knowledge of physics, bridge construction, and for that matter, weather.

    NTSB “considering the weather” is a canard, and you know it.

    One glance at these charts: http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/USclimate/city.pl?state=MN&lane=fast&itypea=1&.cgifields=itypea&loc.x=271&loc.y=352 is pretty much all it takes to toss this theory in the trash can.

  84. Mark P says:

    Joe:

    I’ll try to keep personal attacks out of this because they serve no purpose but I just can’t comprehend your article or your points of view:

    1) Your entire article is about climate change and the potential impact on the bridge collapse. The highlighted and capitalized sections emphasize that purported link and even the freakin’ title implies where your beliefs are. For you to then state “I didn’t blame the collapse on global warming” just tells me you aren’t even trying to be honest with yourself or your readers.

    2) Greenland – the evidence is overwhelming that the Vikings settled and raised crops and livestock there for hundreds of years (between 1000 A.D. and 1350 A.D.) before the climate cooled and caused them to leave/die. You seem not to want to acknowledge the planet goes through warming and cooling cycles over hundreds or thousands of years and we are currently in a warming cycle (that may or may not be accelerated by human-based activity – see 3 next)

    3) Human-caused climate change. You may believe the science is settled but many rational, intelligent people believe otherwise. Is the world round? Yes – the science is settled. Does the world revolve around the sun? Yes – the science is settled. Even some relatively new scientific concepts such as plate tectonics – the science is settled; you’ll find few if anyone not buying into the theory of plate tectonics. With climate change there ARE many prominent scientists who have NOT bought into this theory – you can Google it as well as I can. And don’t forget that many, if not most, of the global warming alarmist scientists (not to mention the politicians!) have a VESTED INTEREST in ringing the alarm bells – after all there is little research grants doled out to those that say “well, I think we don’t have much of a problem here”…it is surprising that ANY scientist risks his/her grants and the hysterical storm from the left by daring to question the ‘wisdom’ of the global warming alarmists. The fact that there ARE those scientists should give any rational person real pause.

    4) The focus on the global warming threat in itself I believe does a dis-serivce. I can think of at other human-caused phenomena with potentially much more grave consequences to humans than global warming: over-population, nuclear proliferation to rogue nations, groups or individuals, and rain-forest destruction to name just three. The current hysteria around global warming to the exclusion of real environmental threats is much more harmful than even the worst global warming scenarios, IMHO.

    The really sad thing is the seeming decline in the ability of people to think critically but rather to just jump from one silly thing to the next. You think the global warming debate will be “proven” by 2020? Again that seems ridiculous – a hundred years or more seems much more plausible, long after all of us are gone and trillions of dollars and misplaced efforts away from real problems have done more damage than the temperature rising a few degrees ever could have done.

  85. dave says:

    I realize that no one will read a comment this far down, and critical thinking is clearly not a strong point of the anti-climate change crazies, BUT…

    Without specifically blaming climate change, it’s quite possible that the weeks of hot, dry weather before the collapse were a contributing factor (not the CAUSE, but a contributing factor – I realize that multiple interacting causes are difficult for black’n’white good’n’evil thinkers to comprehend, but bear with me). Consider that the bridge deck was under heavy repair at the time, with literally half the road surface removed. And consider that the bridge designed relied on compression of the deck as well as tension of the truss for stability. Without the strength and weight of all that removed material, it’s possible that expansion of the truss and expansion of the deck got out of whack with one another, upsetting the delicate balance of tension and compression and destabilizing the structure. Ergo, the bridge fell down because a: half the road surface was removed, and b: it was so hot and dry for so long. It’s a pretty reasonable hypothesis, anyway.

    This does NOT mean “global warming broke the bridge”. However, the inability to even consider such a hypothesis in the mad rush to mock Al Gore does suggest a lack of critical thinking.

  86. Joe says:

    1. I didn’t blame the collapse on global warming. I merely asked whether climate change might have contributed. Most of my readers are able to tell the difference between those two sentences.

    2. The myth of Greenland and the Vikings just won’t die.
    http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/03/greenland-used-to-be-green.html
    You ignored my comment on the this-is-just-part-of-the-natural-cycles myth, which is long disproved.

    3. You are basically saying there is a conspiracy among thousands of scientists to lie and deceive and trick the public. You might as well believe iin UFOs or the moon landing was a fraud.

    The science isn’t settled — its scary how much worse global warming already is then the consensus ever thought.

    4. If the unexpectedly high rate of climate change continues, even you will be admitting you were wrong by the 2020s — too late to do anybody good.

    These replies are starting to get repetitious so I’ll let the deniers keep posting their nonsense. At least it keeps them off the streets….

  87. LogicIsDead says:

    Dave –
    Let’s say your scenario is precisely correct, and the bridge fell due to a combination of the road surface being compromised due to construction and the weeks of hot and dry weather.

    It still has nothing to do with “global warming”. The weather of the past 2 months is within the statistical norms for the area (or at most just outside the norms). If the bridge could not stand weather within those bounds, then it had a faulty design.

    If the collapsed bridge is replaced this winter with one made of ice, can we blame global warming when it collapses next spring? Of course not. By the same token, if the bridge failed due to routine weather variations (and removal of the roadbed, which shouldn’t affect its structural integrity anyway), then the bridge design is at fault, not the weather, regardless of whether global warming is happening or not.

    Let me go out on a limb and predict that the collapse will be shown to be caused by poor maintenance – human error. This is the most reasonable explanation, and while we should investigate all possiblities, we need to rule out the most plausible ones first.

  88. Burch S says:

    This topic is really a lot more complicated than has been discussed here. OK it was hot on the day of the collapse. If one postulates that the ambient temp is a contributing factor, then we also need to consider the thermal conductivity of the bridge materials. It doesn’t stay 90 degrees 24 hours a day. Bridge parts cool down at night. How fast do they heat during the day? Where were the components that failed? Were they in direct sunlight subject to heating by the same? Or in the shade and only affected by the air temp. What was the state of the atmosphere? Ever walk on pavement on a bright sunny day? It’s way hotter than tthe ambient temp. Given that, what is the real effect of an ambient temp that is a degree or two higher than “normal”. How much does the internal temperature of a bridge structural element really change in a period of a few days? There’s a lot of mass there, so it depends on the specific heat of the material, the heat conductivity of the material, the exposure to direct sunlight, the airflow over the surface, the ambient temp, and many other factors I suspect.

    I don’t think any possible contributing cause should be eliminated out of hand, but to simply assert that because it was “hotter than normal” the bridge was overstressed is oversimplification.

  89. David Pillow says:

    You folks are absolute airbuckets. If we [mankind] are powerful enough to change the climate, then why don’t we eliminate winters and summers? Let’s just make the earth’s temperature about 70 degrees year round. Has anyone considered the sun as a factor in the global warming scheme?

  90. Ron says:

    Burch,

    You said “Ever walk on pavement on a bright sunny day? It’s way hotter than tthe ambient temp. Given that, what is the real effect of an ambient temp that is a degree or two higher than “normal”.

    The pavement heats up to higher temps than the surrounding air mainly due to the sun shining on it, not higher air temperatures. And any effect that the sun might have on climate has already been disproved anyway, according to the Believers. So if the sun had anything to do with this at all, (instead of design flaws or cracks overlooked by inspectors), then by definition it can’t be a global warming issue. Global warming is only caused by carbon dioxide.

  91. Mark P says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe, you are killing me…

    Your replies to my original post were, um, dissatisfactory to say the least…

    1) First you say “I didn’t blame the collapse on global warming. I merely asked whether climate change might have contributed. Most of my readers are able to tell the difference between those two sentences.”…oh please. When you say ‘climate change’ you ain’t talking about global cooling, you’re talking about global warming and perceived wilder extremes in weather patterns that goes with it. No matter how you spin your language you still were equating a CHANGE in weather from past norms as a factor in the bridge collapse and that notion is absurd.

    2) Re: Greenland we get this from you: “The myth of Greenland and the Vikings just won’t die”…yes, it won’t die because it is not a myth. First of all, nobody in the 90 plus posts above said Greenland was ever really green – give me a break. What I’m saying is that Greenland was once warm enough to sustain a Viking colony for many hundreds of years and then the colonies ceased to exist with a cooler climate a major factor for their demise. I did bother to click on the link you provided and, ironically, it quotes the same author where I received most of my data – Jared Diamond and his book “Collapse”. You keep saying this link disproves the “natural cycles’ and the Mideival Warm period myth…now I’ll admit I’m not sure exactly what you’re referring to there but what *I’M* referring to is the natural fluctuations of global termperatures up and down over time. Let’s go to Mr Diamond himself and see this quote from “Collapse”;

    “Between A.D. 800 and A.D. 1300 ice core samples tell us that the climate in Greenland was relatively mild, similar to their weather today or even slightly warmer. Those mild centuries are termed the Medieval Warm Period. Thus, the Norse reached Greenland during the period good for growing hay and pasturing animals…Around 1300, though, the climate…began to get cooler… ushering in a cold period termed the little ice age that lasted into the 1800’s…These cold conditions were…bad news for the Norse…and as we shall see the cooler temperatures were a factor in the demise of the Greenland Norse…” (And all without a single SUV in sight!)

    There you have it – plain as day…wow talk about the abuse of a little knowledge – one blogger quoting another blog that misquotes the real authority and then blindly referring to it as some kind of last word on the original bloggers misconceptions in the first place…(and yes I know Diamond is in the global warming alarmist camp)…

    3)OK, next, “You are basically saying there is a conspiracy among thousands of scientists to lie and deceive and trick the public.” Hysterical, I never implied a conspiracy – you liberals are the conspiracy theorists remember? You keep quoting “thousands of scientists” – surely even you aren’t saying you can point me to thousands of peer-reviewed articles about global warming can you? I’ll buy dozens, maybe even hundreds but you seem to imply it is thousands to zero. It is not thousands to zero. There are many scientists who, despite the risk of ridicule from their more learned colleagues and the financial disincentive, openly question the theory of global warming.

    Next – “its scary how much worse global warming already is then the consensus ever thought.”…Wait, wait wait, is it just a mere consensus now? Funny. And this may be the most absurd statement uttered by you yet. What EXACTLY is SCARY about it? I defy you to open your window, look in your backyard and tell me one tiny little thing that is different about the weather you see out there from what it has been the last 50 years. Oh yeah, the average temperature is one half of one degree higher. You call that SCARY? I call it laughable.

    4) You think a mere 13 years from now this issue will be settled. Sorry couldn’t disagree with you more. I guess we’ll know in 13 years but I predict we’ll be on to other phony issues long before then…

    Well, I will commend you for printing opposing viewpoints that you obviously don’t agree with – you get points for that. And, cheer up, in the end you’ll get what you want anyway…if you assume for the moment that, if the world is warming and it is exacerbated by humans and that fossil fuels are the main culprit, conservatives agree there are myriad economic, political and national security reasons to get off oil and into other forms of energy so none of this ranting about global warming may matter in the end…

  92. Mark P says:

    OH MY GOD – it was weather after all that caused the bridge to collapse – NOT!

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,292648,00.html

  93. Ron says:

    It could be a design flaw. Imagine that!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/08/us/09cnd-bridge.html?ei=5065&en=dfa3aa04d82c27f4&ex=1187236800&partner=MYWAY&pagewanted=print

    We may find out that engineers are more dangerous than carbon dioxide ……..

  94. Robert says:

    Breaking News
    1998 no longer hottest year on record. Due to errors in the data collecting that have been corrected 1934 is now the record holder.
    Check data at
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/graphs/Fig.D.txt
    This is just another example of flaws in the gorebull warming argument. The global warming deniers will win out over the global warming swindle and join the list of other deniers in history.
    The earth is flat but there were deniers
    The Sun revolves around the earth but there were deniers.
    The moon is made of cheese but there were deniers.

  95. Czekmark says:

    Why do you even open up your blog to discussion? You have obviously no intent to be open-minded and consider other viewpoints that are not inline with your own.

    As far as climate change is concerned, look up in the sky during daylight hours. You see that glaring firey globe that makes it possible to have life on this planet from which ALL warmth comes? Do you think the energy from that globe is a constant? No, of course, it isn’t and everytime the energy changes, our climate changes.

  96. Ron says:

    Czekmark,

    But that won’t sell books or hydrogen fuel cells or prius’s.

  97. Burch S says:

    For some more engineering info on the bridge:

    http://www.designnews.com/article/CA6464926.html

  98. Burch S says:

    A bit off the bridge topic, but good stuff about the re-ranking of hotest years:

    http://www.norcalblogs.com/watts/2007/08/1998_no_longer_the_hottest_yea.html

  99. Kevin says:

    Joe,

    When I came to work this morning someone said to me “it can’t be long till someone blames the bridge collapse on global warming”. Congratulations. It’s you.

    Now, if it had been the hottest day ever recorded, there might be reason to look into that. But the coincidence of the construction and the fact that this bridge had been widened leads me to believe otherwise.

    Now, I’m not going to call you a moron because, in fact, you are a true believer and regardless of the facts you will put forth your argument time and time again. I invite you however to look at the global warming chart for a minute.

    Tree rings et. al. are accurate to .2 degrees C…..
    The previous methods of measuring temp (tree rings), are not in accord with the actual temps we measure today.
    The error is almost as large as the trend.

    And, this absolutely kills me:

    One of the trend lines suddenly goes missing (when it diverges funny enough)

    A description of the data manuipulation on the graph:

    “the spaghetti graph was constructed by re-scaling, using regression of all of the various series against the 1881-1960 CRU temperature series (with an ad hoc variation for Crowley-Lowery, where some of the data was left out of the re-scaling)”

    Now, when I went to school, we called that cheating. You wouldn’t know what data to drop and what new creative method of re-scaling to use unless you had a goal in mind.

    Denier,
    Kevin

  100. Paul K says:

    The fact that opposing views are posted in the comments indicates Joe is open to discussion. He gives his rebuttals without rancor or invective. I found this site several months ago and have been impressed by the emphasis on science. Obviously the”bridge question” has brought a lot of new people here. I hope those who become regular readers, whether believers or deniers, will use Joe’s site as a place to learn.

    As to the new temperature figures, I hope Joe will open a new post on regional vs global climate change and a thorough analysis of the controversies involving measuring stations and standards.

    From my novice point of view, Climatology is a relatively new science with evolving methodologies. For example, this is from the NOAA website: The 2005 global temperature was statistically indistinguishable from the standing record set in 1998. One data set, in use at NCDC since the late 1990s, produced a global annual temperature for 2005 that was slightly below 1998 (below left). An improved data set, which incorporates innovative algorithms that better account for factors such as changes in spatial coverage and evolving observing methods, results in 2005 being slightly warmer than 1998

  101. Ade says:

    Global average temperatures have, it seems, reached (approximately) a haitus. Since the “record” 1998 temperatures have been proven to be in error, shifting the hottest year on record back to 1934, I can’t help but wonder if global warming (and, specifically, anthropogenic global warming) have been vastly overstated in order to allow Governments to apply more taxes. The reason for the lateness of the Bush administration to the GW Tax Party further, I shall leave to those more qualified than I to comment (i.e. Americans).

    Nevertheless, the US seems to have bridge collapses – and some fairly spectacular ones at that – on a depressingly regular basis. I guess this one is big news because it’s a major bridge on a major interstate, it occurred during rush-hour, and there was a school bus on it. Oh, and Global Warming is the current fear d’jour.

    Watching programmes like Megastructures (various Discovery channels) only serves to underline the ineptitude of US construction teams. Us Brits aren’t much better either… it seems the current World Champions at construction are the French (disgraceful…). Especially when it comes to bridges….

    Anyway – returning to the point… It’s specious to blame GW for the Minnesota bridge collapse. It had been on “it’s gonna fall over” watch since 2000 or 2001 (I forget which), so the authorities KNEW it was in trouble. They just underestimated how much, is all.

  102. Ron says:

    Oh my gosh, it’s happening all over! There’s another one down! Everybody stop exhaling!

    Bridge Under Construction Collapses in Arizona
    2007-08-09 01:25pm

    A section of overpass under construction in Arizona collapsed Thursday morning, less than a week after a bridge full of cars collapsed in Minneapolis.

    No one was injured when a section of the Loop 202 Red Mountain Freeway bridge fell to the ground in east Mesa, a suburb of Phoenix.

    Crews were immediately on the scene and officials have already begun examining why several girders in one section of the bridge plunged to the ground.

    Holly Hosac, a spokeswoman for the Mesa Police Department, said a steel girder failed, “which essentially created a domino effect.”

  103. gmischol says:

    It’s just sad, that temperature in the 30’s and 40’s have been higher, and no brigde collapsed!?!
    It’s so easy to blame AGW for everything when just may have done sloppy work (building or surveyance of bridges)

  104. clover-girl says:

    Mother nature is angry with us, and that’s a fact. We have become like a virus to Her.

    The meek, humble and true Believers will be the ones who inherit the Earth from the Deniers and Destroyers.

    Many people will die before balance is restored.

  105. Eldred says:

    Why not just wait for the engineers investigating the bridge collapse to find out why the bridge collapsed? Googling and asking a friend and then assuming that because “lots of people think the heat may have contributed” you have a reason smacks of the GW alarmists’ typical modus operandi, i.e. forcing your “data” to fit your theory and overlooking or downplaying anything that doesn’t.

    The NTSB has not ruled out that overconsumption of trans fats in the Minneapolis area might have contributed, either. It is not its job to “rule out” every single noncontributive factor.

  106. Warfare says:

    The real problem is the socialised roadways. You notice that it was not the roof of a Walmart (or any other commercial structure) that collapsed even though they would have to go through the same weather changes as the bridge.

  107. Alan McIntire says:

    I suspect that freezing and thawing would be more important factors in weakening a structure than temperature increases of 2/3 degrees C. Since a majority of the warming would be at night, and in the winter, there’d be less freezing with global warming, and a lesser temperature gradient between day and night and summer and winter. The net effect of global warming would be less stress on structures-

  108. white dan says:

    alo

  109. Rajinder Sandhir says:

    Bridges are built to withstand expansion due to heat. The safety factor taken is normally ten times the anticipated maximum temperature. Even if pushed to more stress than can be taken by designed structure, the steel members yield. They will deform before collapsing. The bridge simply collapsed.
    Prestressed bolts used in the gusset plates or the plates themselves may have fractured due to faulty design and or sub-standard materails leading to shearing of bolts and or plates. Only such an event could have led to the catastrophic collapse.
    One would like to see the report on analysis, microscopic examination and physical testing of bolts and plates to conclusively prove the hypothesis.

  110. Ron says:

    Update on the bridge. No global warming damage indicated, but much bureaucratic ineptitude –

    http://www.newsinferno.com/archives/1881

    Minneapolis Bridge Collapse Puts MNDOT under Microscope, as State Lawmakers Call for Probe of Agency
    Date Published: Thursday, October 4th, 2007
    Members of the Minnesota State Legislature want an independent investigation into the August 1 Minneapolis Bridge collapse. Some state lawmakers are pushing for the appointment of a special investigator who would focus specifically on the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MNDOT) decision making process prior to the collapse of the I-35 W Bridge.

    The I-35 W Bridge collapsed on August 1, at 6:05 p.m. It was the height of Minneapolis’ evening rush hour, and cars were lined up bumper-to- bumper across the span. At least 88 vehicles and hundreds of people fell 60 feet into the Mississippi River below. Thirteen people died and at least 100 others were injured. It would be nearly three weeks before the final victim of the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse was pulled from the river.

    Members of the Minnesota legislature say they want the state to hire an outside investigator and staff to probe MNDOT’s actions leading up to the Minneapolis Bridge Collapse. According to MNDOT records, the agency was so concerned about structural deficiencies on the I-35 W Bridge that officials there actually considered replacing it. And last winter, MNDOT even considered a plan to bolt steel plates to the supports of the 40-year-old I-35W bridge to prevent fatigued areas from cracking. But some in the agency were concerned that such repairs would only serve to weaken the 40 year old bridge even more.

    Instead, MNDOT decided to submit the Minneapolis Bridge to more frequent inspections, rather than replacing or repairing the structure. The I-35W Bridge was last inspected in June 2006. That report noted fatigue cracks in the sections leading to the river, one of which was 4 feet long. That crack was eventually reinforced with a steel plate. An inspection did begin earlier this year, but was put on hold when construction began to repair the I-35W Bridge’s surface.

    Now, Minnesota lawmakers want to know why MNDOT did not take more aggressive action in dealing with the aging I-35 W Bridge. Several legislators supporting the funding of a new probe have said that if hired, an investigator would function similar to an independent council, and that the person would have funds available to hire a staff.

    If approved, the independent investigator’s probe would be just one of multiple investigations looking into the Minneapolis Bridge collapse. The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the disaster, but will not have a report for at least a year. The state has already hired an independent consultant to probe the bridge collapse, but it will look at all contributing factors, not just MNDOT’s role in the disaster.