Hurricane Sandy’s undeniable message is that the planet and its oceans have gotten warmer over the past century and increased the energy available for extreme weather events.
By Grier Raggio, Family Lawyer
Experts tell us that Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the Eastern United States was unprecedented. New York experienced an ocean surge three feet above all past records; a surge that shoved saltwater into the city’s underground transportation and power networks and, as a result, forced them to shut down.
Since the storm, climate scientists have repeated what they’ve said many times before: the planet and its oceans have gotten warmer over the past century and increased the energy available for extreme weather events like Sandy. That not-so-gentle lady got the attention of millions who were without power due to the most destructive storm in the nation’s history.
Sandy will, perhaps, erode the massive wall the American public has constructed against looking at climate change evidence, and of the even larger wall against evidence that human activities are the primary cause of global warming.
Joe and Jane Public have it together like this: “I’m worried about the bills and my kids, and I don’t want to think about big things I don’t control which might make things worse.” Well, Sandy’s message is that climate change can make Joe and Jane’s lives more challenging quickly and unexpectedly.
I think we’ll see more vigorous discussion in Sandy’s aftermath from these conflicting positions:
- Global warming doesn’t exist, and talk about it is part of a liberal conspiracy pushed by Al Gore and his allies to expand the federal government and steal constitutionally-guaranteed American freedoms;
- Whatever happens is God’s will, and it’s sinful human arrogance to think that mankind changes God’s creation in ways He does not intend;
- Climate change exists, but it’s part of natural cycles that man’s activities have nothing to do with;
- Human activities are heating the world, so Americans should use more clean energy and conserve resources intelligently, all without changing our lifestyles or lowering consumption;
- Climate change is real, but the fragmented international political community, with China, India and others expanding consumption fast, guarantees a natural systems train wreck regardless of what Americans do, and the best we can do is prepare for a different world;
- The United States has been the biggest cause of the world’s environmental mess through more than two centuries of high economic growth, and Americans should lead the way towards a more sustainable world by lowering consumption of fossil fuels and of other natural resources; and
- Humankind has heated Earth’s air and oceans, endangering its own survival, by burning massive amounts of hydrocarbons, by clearing millions of square miles of forests for farmland, and by civilization itself. Is it still possible to prevent Earth becoming much less hospitable place than it once was?
Grier Raggio is a family lawyer and politician. He was a Democratic candidate in the 2010 election for the United States House of Representatives seat in Texas’s 32nd congressional district. We Consume Too Much.