The immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy is affording little time to think about the big picture. With neighborhoods underwater, toppled trees lining the streets, the stock exchange locked, and the dependable New York public transportation closed indefinitely; most people don’t have time to worry about the lasting impacts of this storm.
But when the worst hurricane since the 1800’s hits the north east coast only one year after a tropical storm swept across the same unlikely area, people begin to take notice. Governor Cuomo may have offered the most poignant sentiment: “Anyone who thinks that there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns is denying reality. We have a new reality, and old infrastructures and old systems.”
Obviously, this “new reality” comes as little surprise to climatologists, who have understood for two decades that the rising temperature of the earth will bring on more extreme weather, more often. While scientists are hesitant to contribute any single event solely to climate change, the idea that storms like this will become more frequent and intense is hard to imagine for many in the northeast. Although the debate still rages in political circles about the reality of global warming, the laws that govern the climate tend not to care. Fortunately, those who have recognized the threat of climate change have set out to reduce our carbon emissions, so that we may avoid the worst of these disasters in the future.