Politicians connecting the dots: The “superstorm” and climate change

Here’s a short list of some good articles about the connections between the changing climate and this week’s “superstorm,” particularly as it relates to political responses to the storm.

NOAA satellite image of Hurricane Sandy, Oct. 29/12
  • Tom Whipple’s piece for the Post Carbon Institute blog notes that the weather reporters weren’t talking about the possible reasons for the unusual presence, size, and route of Hurricane Sandy so late in the hurricane season.  But Whipple points out that the repetition and sheer costs of these “extreme weather events”–expected to be in the tens of billions of dollars for Sandy–may be the best way to get through to politicians and others who have so far resisted the big implications of the changing climate and humans’ role in it.
  • The New York Times acknowledges the correctness of the many years of warnings concerns about the vulnerability of New York–and the world’s many other near-sea-level cities–to rising seas and stronger storms.  David Chen and Mireya Navarro write that “Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg is known worldwide for his broad environmental vision,” but that his administration has faced challenges in moving from grasping the scale of the problem to figuring out what to do in response, beyond the kind of shorter-term disaster preparedness that served the city well this week.
  • And in a Boston Globe article about scientists, climate change, and Hurricane Sandy, Seth Borenstein discusses the complexities of proving direct connections between individual weather events, general climate change, and specific factors like rising air and water temperatures.  But New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, like others whose states and cities have been battered by vicious weather in recent years, seems to be among a growing number of politicians who recognize that at some point, we need to trust the general weight of evidence and get on with making longer-range changes.  “‘Anyone who says that there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality,” Cuomo is quoted as saying.  You don’t have to understand all the complexities of climate science yourself to know that it’s probably a smart idea to listen to what the vast majority of the world’s climate scientists are telling us.
  • An editorial in today’s New York Times makes it pretty clear that Mayor Bloomberg is getting that message.  Bloomberg writes, “Our climate is changing,” he wrote. “And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be — given the devastation it is wreaking — should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”   (Click here for an article about Bloomberg’s piece.)





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