The list grows longer.
Irene. The October snowstorm. Violent summer thunderstorms that flooded the Passaic and Hackensack river systems. Sea level rise. Three straight years of above-average temperatures.
Now, Sandy — and an early nor’easter.
Especially for those who experienced the destruction brought by the past weeks’ storms, it is easy to view this as the new weather reality. And while the debate over climate change may still rage in some corners, the changing weather patterns have prompted more policymakers to start talking about how to address the effects of that change.
Some political leaders who had to deal with Sandy’s impact insisted as much, while Governor Christie’s administration has said the science remains in flux, so the solutions are still unclear. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the recent series of extreme weather events, and the destruction from Sandy’s storm surge, which flooded Manhattan’s tunnels and subway system — requires that the city not only rebuild, but “build it back smarter,” with climate change in mind.
And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who had refrained from endorsing a presidential candidate all year, threw his support behind President Obama, arguing that Obama would show more leadership on climate change. Sandy’s devastation, Bloomberg wrote on Bloomberg.com, “brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election in to sharp relief.”
“Our climate is changing,” Bloomberg wrote. And the increase in extreme weather “should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”
There are, of course, still some who dismiss global warming entirely, saying the weather extremes are purely random. Conservative groups, such as the American Policy Roundtable and the Heartland Institute, for instance, say global warming concerns are overblown and misdirected, arguing, among other things, that the computer models used to predict the changes are too crude. They also say that moderate climate change would actually benefit mankind, pointing out that warmer temperatures during part of the Middle Ages coincided with the growth of key civilizations.
Governor Christie has said that climate change is real and that human activity has contributed to it. In the aftermath of Sandy, he said the state’s focus is on restoring power and the immediate needs of displaced residents — and that there will be time aplenty down the road to discuss rebuilding and the best way to handle climate change.
For the large majority of climate experts, the evidence now is overwhelming.
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