As you sit at home wondering whether the apple tree outside will soon fall on your car and consider the benefits of starting a really, really long movie for your kids right now, think on this: Hurricane Sandy may be the beginning of a new normal of extreme weather. Perhaps not “normal” really, but at least the kind of record-breaking, life-threatening, all-hands-on-deck event that climate change experts have been warning us about. Here’s Tom Zeller Jr. writing in the Huffington Post:
Today, another multibillion-dollar weather disaster — the very sort that scientists have been predicting for years would increase in frequency and intensity as the planet heats up — is now bearing down on the American East Coast. Roads and subways and homes will flood and lives might well be lost (the death toll in the Caribbean already is as high as 65). Property damages from wind and storm surges could break records. And as many as 10 million people will likely lose power once Hurricane Sandy comes ashore somewhere along the New Jersey coast later tonight.
The irony of Sandy’s timing — just 8 days before the election — given the candidates’ outrageous silence on the issue of climate change, hasn’t escaped folks who have been screaming for some time that we’re dithering while the planet heats up. Here’s Zeller again:
With one week left before an historic election that, as it happens, has been roundly criticized for its utter lack of high-level discussion of climate change, the smooth functioning of democracy itself might well be undermined by the storm, with the potential for widespread power outages in some areas lasting 10 days or more — well beyond next Tuesday’s scheduled polls.
If ever there was a time for everyone to wake up, Tidwell suggested, it’s now.
All eyes are on Hurricane Sandy, and residents along the East Coast are bracing for the storm that has prompted evacuations and shut down transit systems, schools and businesses. The map above shows the evolution of Hurricane Sandy’s past and predicted path.
“The irony is that the two presidential candidates decided not to speak about climate change, and now they are seeing the climate speak to them,” said Tidwell. “That’s really what’s happening here. The climate is now speaking to them — and to everyone else.”
To be sure, a small but shrinking cadre of skeptics still question the basic mechanics of global warming — including the likelihood that a hotter planet will produce more powerful and deadly storms like Sandy — but the evidence is, once again, staring the nation in the face.