Hurricane Sandy caused terrible devastation and loss. But it is also a teachable moment to educate the public about the connection between extreme weather and oceans that are warming due to fossil-fueled climate change.
But too many major news outlets and reports are still relying on hackneyed weather reporting — windblown “reporters” with microphones on beaches — rather than asking why storms are getting bigger and more dangerous.1
Hurricane Sandy was no mere natural disaster. It was a record-setting killer storm that is becoming the new normal thanks to human-caused climate change — and is a harbinger of much worse to come if we do not change course.
If we are ever to have sufficient will to attack global warming, the public needs to be let in on what many climate scientists are already saying, and the urgent need for action.
Fortunately, there are a few media outlets starting to make the connection — at least raising the question and bringing on thoughtful guests.2
But most of Big Media is relying on lowest-common-denominator weather reporting to cover record-breaking extreme weather.
We deserve better. Much better.
When it comes to confronting climate change, we have a major structural and political problem. Our broken system of campaign finance and lobbying has allowed major polluters to buy off one party and essentially scare the other. The result is gridlock, science denial, and a continuance of policies which subsidize, promote and even invest in fossil fuels for the long-term, when we should be phasing them out as fast as can — maybe faster.
We must, very soon, work to overcome the power of the fossil fuel polluters and their hold on our elected leaders to get the policies we need.
Part of that will be the media fulfilling their obligation to inform the populous in this country, and doing so in a way that is commensurate with the urgency of this crisis. We need to know the whole truth. They must start reporting it.
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Thank you for taking a stand.
Michael Kieschnick, President and CEO
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. Michael Calderone, “Hurricane Sandy Cable News Coverage Avoids Talk Of Climate Change,” Huffington Post, October 29, 2012
2. Stephen Lacey, “Watch: Television News Starts Covering The Link Between Climate Change And Superstorm Sandy,” ThinkProgress, October 31, 2012
3. Wen Stephenson, “A Convenient Excuse,” The Phoenix, October 31, 2012
At least 40 people have been killed, millions are without power and transport across the north-eastern US has been severely disrupted as storm Sandy heads north for Canada.
In New York City, 18 people have been killed and the public transport system remains closed until further notice.
More than 18,000 flights were cancelled, the flight-tracking website FlightAware estimates.
Earlier, Sandy killed more than 60 people as it hit the Caribbean.
Sandy brought a record storm surge of almost 14ft (4.2m) to central Manhattan, well above the previous record of 10 feet (3m) during Hurricane Donna in 1960, the National Weather Service said.
The storm was causing heavy snowfalls over the Appalachian mountains on Tuesday afternoon. It was expected to turn towards western New York state during the evening before moving into Canada on Wednesday, the forecaster said.
At least eight million homes and businesses are without power because of the storm, says the US Department of Energy.
The New York Stock Exchange says it will re-open on Wednesday after two days’ closure, as will the Nasdaq exchange. The last time the stock exchange shut down for two days was in 1888.
New York’s subway system sustained the worst damage in its 108-year history, said Joseph Lhota, head of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA).
Subway tunnels were flooded and electrical equipment will have to be cleaned before the network can re-open.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said there was “no timeline” for when the subway would restart, but he hoped buses could begin running again on Wednesday.
All New York’s major airports are closed as their runways are flooded.
It is likely to be two or three days before power is restored to most of the city, Mr Bloomberg said.
The Path commuter train service, which links New Jersey and New York City, is likely to remain suspended for seven to 10 days, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie told a news conference.
The tidal surge from the storm left fields of debris 7ft (2.25m) high and carried small railway goods cars onto elevated sections of the New Jersey Turnpike, he said.
Words can’t do justice to the fear and peril being experienced by million of people on the East Coast right now.
For those of us who are lucky enough to be out of Sandy’s path, it is difficult to know what to do with ourselves.
What we do know is that this is potentially a big moment in the movement to address global warming. There is growing evidence that storms like Sandy will be the new normal rather than a freak of nature.1
There will always be storms, but as the oceans warm and the Arctic melts, Sandy is a foreboding glimpse of the stronger storms (along with floods, draughts, wildfires, etc.) of the future.
So in between checking on your friends and loved ones if you are able to do so, looking at the latest disaster pics online, refreshing The Weather Channel home page, (or seeing if the polls have changed in Ohio,) here are three things we can all do right now:
- Commit to vote against anyone who denies climate science or who expresses doubt that attacking global warming is an urgent priority. The League of Conservation Voters maintains a useful scorecard of our Representatives and Senators’ votes on the environment.2
- Donate to a local emergency shelter or to the Red Cross.
- Listen to Bill McKibben in conversation with Amy Goodman on Democracy Nowexplain why Sandy should be a wake-up call, and then share it widely with all your friends and family.
We wish safety and the fastest possible recovery to all on the East Coast on this scary night. Thank you for standing with us in the fight for our future.
Micheal Kieschnick, President and CEO
CREDO Action from Working Assets
1. “New Study Ties Hurricane Strength To Global Warming,” Climate Central, 10-15-12.
2. Look for vote #2 in the Senate and vote #11 in the House, to repeal the scientific finding by the EPA that greenhouse gases endanger human health and the environment, and to permanently block the EPA from reducing greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
Whatever you want to call it, the East Coast is bracing for Hurricane Sandy, a “rare hybrid storm” that is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge to the mid-Atlantic coast, Long Island Sound and New York harbor, forecasters say, with winds expected to be at or near hurricane force when it makes landfall sometime on Monday.
According to the National Hurricane Center, the Category 1 hurricane was centered about 280 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, N.C., and 485 miles south of New York City early Sunday, carrying maximum sustained winds of 75 mph and moving northeast at 15 mph.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal forecasters say when Hurricane Sandy turns in to what some call “Frankenstorm,” it will smack the East Coast harder and wider than last year’s damaging Irene.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday that wherever the storm comes ashore, there will be 10 inches of rain and extreme storm surges. Up to 2 feet of snow should fall on West Virginia, with lighter snow in parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Forecasters expect wind damage, power outages and flooding.
Hurricane Sandy is now near the Bahamas. It’s expected to move up the coast and collide with a winter storm moving across the country and frigid air from Canada.
The hurricane is forecast to turn inland around Delaware, but it could still hit as far north as New York.