A round of applause to Bloomberg Businessweek for directly connecting Hurricane Sandy and climate change in their cover story:
Nevertheless, the media and political silence on climate change has been shameful. As Bloomberg’s article notes, we can’t yet gauge what effect climate change had on Hurricane Sandy specifically. (This is the dodge you will hear from climate change skeptics in the days ahead.) But we do know — and by “we know,” I mean “the vast majority of scientists agree” — that global warming makes “Frankenstorms” such as Sandy more likely. We know that global warming also makes other extreme weather events, such as record droughts and massive brush fires, more likely as well. And as my colleague Brad Plumer points out, we know that continued inaction has meant that rising sea levels are no longer a possibility, but a given.
Yet the news media has barely mentioned climate change in the aftermath of Sandy, even in the context of how to better prepare for future disasters. For the first time, the presidential debates had no questions about climate change; CNN’s Candy Crowley, the moderator of the second debate, even referred to “you climate change people,” as if global warming is somehow a special interest group.
Politicians, of course, have performed even worse. Except for higher fuel efficiency standards, President Obama and his fellow Democrats have pretty much ignored addressing climate change, especially since the 2010 midterm elections. Republicans, for their part, grow ever more strident in their mockery of climate change and, by extension, basic math and science. As Bill McKibben put it over at The New Republic, the fossil fuel industry in particular has blocked progress “by buying one party, and scaring the other.”
To be fair, since the Wall Street crash, the economy has rightly been the top priority for lawmakers. But as the country recovers, climate change needs to be more than an issue; it must be a top issue for a second Obama term. (I stand by my prediction from a month ago that Obama will win.) The sooner a carbon tax (or other carbon pricing scheme) and increased money for alternative energy are implemented, the better. We have already begun to see global warming’s terrible effects; we can ill afford to ignore them any longer.
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