Hurricane Sandy Climate Change: Will Climate Change be the Game Changer in this Election

With Sandy just behind us, leaving a trail of destruction and over $25-$55 billion in property loss, the issue of climate change is front and center: will climate change be the game-changer of this election? With the storm hitting so close to Election Day, and so many more people beginning to believe in climate change, there is reason to believe that it could be.

While climate change deniers and far-right wing preachers like John McTernan, have indicated homosexuality to be the prime cause of Sandy, this doesn’t seem to be flying with most people. Other crazy theories include: blaming it on bad policy towards Israel, blaming President Obama and his administration. Even though both candidates have remained silent about the issue of climate change, voters may now move towards a position, which could tilt this election in one direction.

In addition, as this article points out, the first eight months of this year have been the hottest since record-keeping began in the U.S.

Will voters see the evidence before them, in terms of the environmental impact of climate change and vote accordingly? Or will they continue to live in denial, relegating the issue of climate change to the background?

According to a poll conducted this summer, the number of people who believe in climate change has gone up to over 70%. While the biggest issue this year has been unemployment and the economy, the discourse on climate change has become salient, as well.

This may bode to be a blessing for President Obama, and the Democratic party, which has had a much more positive track-record on addressing the issue of climate change and global warming. Among the Republicans, it has been a record of ignoring it, or at best, denying the existence of climate change.

As this article points out, Governor Romney’s position on climate change has not been consistent. He supported cutting greenhouse gases as governor, but has since changed his position to one of denial. President Obama, even though he let the Cap and Trade Bill die in Congress in 2010, has done more to promote adaption to mitigate the effects of climate change.

These are difficult questions that have no easy answers. But my guess is that Sandy’s impact will not be ignored, and as we discuss and debate the other issues, very subtly, climate change has become key to this election. I believe it may change the outcome in favor of President Obama.

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Sabith Khan

Sabith Khan is a social entrepreneur, researcher and founder of MENASA, a think-tank and policy shop engaged in issues related to MENA and South Asia. Sabith has worked for several years in the field of strategic communications, public affairs and nonprofit management, trying to understand and communicate issues pertaining to civil society, development and youth in the US and MENA region. Sabith has worked with several large global public affairs firms, on award-winning campaigns in healthcare, entertainment and government relations. During his stint at Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, he ideated and executed a global award-winning campaign for Apollo Hospitals (Abby and Clio Awards). He has also worked in the Middle East managing accounts as diverse as Dubai Film Festival, Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation, Dubai International Film Festival, Dubai School of Government. Most recently, he served as the Executive Director of Muslim Public Service Network in Washington D.C, an NGO that engages and inspires young American Muslims to do public service. He is currently pursuing a PhD in Planning Governance and Globalization at Virginia Tech. He has been involved as a team member and leader in several international development projects including consulting for the Near East Foundation, in helping set up their Monitoring and Evaluation system for their offices across the MENA region. Sabith has a Master of Public administration and a Master of Arts in International Relations from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University. In Summer 2013, he conducted research on American Muslim philanthropy at the Lilly School of Philanthropy, Indianapolis, in an attempt to map giving behavior among Muslims over the last ten years i.e., 2002- 2012. Sabith’s research interests include Religion and Philanthropy, Youth issues in USA, Middle East North Africa and South Asia, Governance and Civil Society. Sabith is also the co-editor of Millennials Speak: Essays on the 21st century, a snapshot of the ideas and opinions of the global Millennial Generation. Twenty writers from five continents, a diverse mix of young academics, policy professionals, and future thought and creative leaders, cover topics from the legacy of the Arab Spring, the global food system, the U.S. student loan crisis, youth unemployment, to popular culture. Currently working: Founder and Executive Director, MENASA Publications: 1. Humanitarian Aid and Faith-Based Giving: The Potential of Muslim Charity - Unrest Magazine, George Mason University. May 2013. Accessible at http://www.unrestmag.com/about-unrest/past-issues/#sthash.GEqNfv0U.dpuf 2. Arab American Diaspora and American Muslim Philanthropy: impact of crisis situations on mobilization and formation of a “community.” American University in Cairo Press. Cairo. (NP). Expected Fall 2013. 3. Middle-East Peace Talks 2010: Investigating the Role of Lobbying and Advocacy Groups in Washington, D.C. as Spoilers. Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. Spring 2011. Accessible at : http://www.maxwell.syr.edu/parcc/Research/intrastate/Spoilers_of_Peace_Project/ Blog: www.sabithkhan.wordpress.com

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