The gas rationing system may have ended yesterday in New Jersey, but the nightmare of Superstorm Sandy continues to haunt all those affected. More than 130,000 New Yorkers have yet to have their power and heat restored. In battered Staten Island, a housing crisis has ensued since many homes remain uninhabitable even after power is restored. The government will have to find temporary apartments and hotels where these displaced residents can stay. New Jersey’s beloved shore has also become the scene of a massive pollution nightmare, when storm surge caused oil and fuel to escape from containment areas of heavy industrial facilities.
Is Sandy the last of our worries? It may be impossible to attribute this particular storm to the global warming phenomenon, but it does fit into the general pattern in North America and around the world of more extreme weather patterns. And analysts are predicting, with certainty, more of these severe weather systems in the future. So can ignoring climate change continue to serve us as these unstoppable winds batter our shores?
As destructive as Sandy has been, it has also prompted a reawakening of the debate on how we can prepare for an ever-evolving climate. Mayor Bloomberg used that to make a political statement just days before the presidential election. A presidential campaign, we should note, in which climate change was at the bottom of both candidates’ agendas. Now in the aftermath of the storm, with both New York and New Jersey governors, Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie, on both sides of the political spectrum, calling on the federal government for financial assistance in recovery work, what does this say about how the federal government will approach the topic in the future?
Though global warming was not discussed in the recent presidential race, according to a study by Rasmussen Reports, the number of U.S. voters who see it as a serious problem is higher than ever. Sixty-eight percent of those polled found the phenomenon to be a serious threat. That means an ever-watchful eye on Obama’s climate change agenda throughout the next four years.
Is the reality of Hurricane Sandy, analysts’ predictions and popular sentiment likely to prompt any kind of action in the Capitol? New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Obama for a second term for his work to lower carbon consumption by setting tighter fuel-efficiency standards. And the President’s invocation of the “the destructive power of a warming planet” in his victory speech may perhaps lead to more legislative action.
As we have seen with Sandy, local, city and state governments will have greater responsibilities in responding to disasters. Yet, this will eventually land on the shoulders of the federal government. If severe weather is inevitable in the future, then there is no better time than now to work towards creating a cleaner, greener, and more efficient America.