I’m en route with Greenpeace’s Rolling Sunlight, our solar panel topped truck, to New York City to help provide electricity for cell phone charging there to New Yorkers who have lost power in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
On our way, we stopped in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where President Obama visited today to tour damage from this Frankenstorm. We wanted to ask President Obama about his plans to address the global warming that’s fueling extreme weather events like Sandy, and stopped our solar truck outside the airport with a banner reading, “Obama! Romney! Global Warming = Sandy What Now?”
We couldn’t get any closer than that to Air Force One before having to leave to make it to New York tonight, but we and others will keep working to get the message to President Obama and Governor Romney in the next few days before the election and beyond. Our next president will have to set policies so that we’re ready as these extreme weather events continue, and so that we can prevent this new reality from getting much worse by dealing with the global warming behind it.
President Obama and Governor Romney have barely mentioned global warming during the campaign, and so many politicians seem terrified by the fossil fuel industry’s political power. But anyone who wants to lead America must explain how we are going to address global warming and the supercharged storms it is bringing to our shores. We’ll have to spend billions of dollars to repair the damage from Hurricane Sandy; so as a first step we should stop sending billions more in taxpayer subsidies to the fossil fuel industry that is fueling climate change and blocking clean energy solutions.
Scientists point to several factors to explain how climate change is making super storms like Hurricane Sandy more likely to occur and more damaging. These extreme weather events will only get worse unless we cut global warming pollution.
First, global warming is raising sea levels as land-based ice melts and warmer oceans expand, making storm surge damage and coastal flooding worse. A US Geological Survey report found that sea levels are rising three to four times faster on the Atlantic Coast than globally, putting several major U.S. cities at greater risk.
Second, the warming atmosphere and oceans are loading storms with more energy and rainfall. A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that Katrina-magnitude hurricanes in the Atlantic have been twice as likely in warm years than cold years.
Third, melting sea ice and a warming Arctic are affecting weather patterns in North America and the Atlantic by destabilizing the jet stream, which may increase the risk that storms will impact the U.S. Instead of heading further out to sea, Hurricane Sandy veered toward the U.S. coast because of a blocking pattern above Greenland. Several recent studies have linked Arctic warming to an increased risk of extreme weather.
Some politicians understand the warnings of these supercharged storms, but President Obama and Governor Romney have so far been silent. In the wake of this Hurricane Sandy, that needs to end.