Sandy Changes Political as well as Physical Landscape

NJ's Republican Gov. Chris Christie heaps praise on President Obama, and the governor of the neighboring, hard-hit state, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has also stirred the political pot by going where no other pol has gone - linking Sandy to climate change.
November 2, 2012, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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As has been noted here (Why the Silence on Climate Change?), glaringly absent from the presidential debates has been climate change, and except for a brief reference by both in their convention speeches (one acknowledging it and the other mocking it), it goes unmentioned among most major political leaders, until now.

Peter Fimrite writes that "Cuomo was the first politician to publicly link the superstorm to climate change, urging governments and the public to take note of the consequences likely to occur if the world continues to ignore the phenomenon."

"Part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality. Extreme weather is a reality. It is a reality that we are vulnerable," Cuomo said Wednesday during a news briefing after a helicopter tour of storm-ravaged areas."

Cuomo calls the linkage between extreme weather and climate change "a conversation I think is overdue".

Cuomo's boldness was matched by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg who cited climate change as a chief reason for his endorsement of President Obama, writes Daniel Strauss in The Hills Blog Briefing Room.

"Our climate is changing. 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 might be - given this week's devastation - should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action," Bloomberg wrote in his endorsement.

Cuomo may be the first sitting pol to do so, but others - in the science community and even the insurance industry have already done so.

The well-organized climate change skeptics wasted no time in discrediting Gov. Cuomo.

"Leave it to global warming alarmists to exploit the innocent victims of a human tragedy like Hurricane Sandy to spread the laughably false notion that global warming caused the storm," wrote James Taylor, a senior fellow for environment policy at The Heartland Institute, in "Shame on those alarmists for asserting a false connection to global warming to 'make lemonade' out of this tragedy."

The precise nature of the connection of climate change to Hurricane Sandy is far from settled in the eyes of much of the scientific world, but a growing consensus appears that there is a relationship.

In Paul M. Barrett's Oct. 28 article, "It's Global Warming, Stupid in Bloomberg Business Week, "Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund...offers a baseball analogy: "We can't say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther. Now we have weather on steroids."

Fimrite quotes Peter Roopnarine, the curator of geology and a climate researcher at the CA Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

"Kudos to Gov. Cuomo," he said. "The science is sound, and we in the scientific community are in agreement. It is time for politicians to begin talking about this every day and not be afraid of organizations like the Heartland Institute."

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Published on Thursday, November 1, 2012 in San Francisco Chronicle
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