Two days ago, I asked this question: Was Hurricane Sandy an isolated weather event or an indicator of climate change? I was surprised to report that New Yorkers from all walks of life had reached the conclusion that the climate is fundamentally changing. This included scientists (as usual), insurance companies, waitresses, business owners – and, yes, Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
I acknowledged the Mayor for stating that the weather events are “much more severe than before.” But the compliment was definitely back-handed. The Mayor’s apparent agnosticism about the causes of our new severe weather drew this comment from me: “Trust the savvy mayor to call it straight while ducking the politically-sensitive issue of climate change!”
|Bloomberg tours wreckage at Breezy Point, Queens, NY|
- The floods and fires that swept through our city left a path of destruction that will require years of recovery and rebuilding work…. In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods – something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable.
- Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be – given this week’s devastation – should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.
- Here in New York, our comprehensive sustainability plan – PlaNYC – has helped allow us to cut our carbon footprint by 16 percent in just five years…. Local governments are taking action where national governments are not.
- But we can’t do it alone. We need leadership from the White House – and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants … which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.
- Mitt Romney, too, has a history of tackling climate change. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed on to a regional cap-and-trade plan designed to reduce carbon emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels. “The benefits (of that plan) will be long-lasting and enormous – benefits to our health, our economy, our quality of life, our very landscape. These are actions we can and must take now, if we are to have `no regrets’ when we transfer our temporary stewardship of this Earth to the next generation,” he wrote at the time. He couldn’t have been more right. But since then, he has reversed course ….