Friday, November 9, 2012

Just ask Sandy

For decades, meteorologists and climatologists have warned us of “global warming,” and doubters have laughed at the concept whenever snowstorms hit.

Last week, Hurricane Sandy served as a reminder that the correct name is “global climate change,” and that its costs and consequences for life and property are very damaging and very real 

According to the financial services at Barclay’s, the losses sustained because of Sandy could reach $50 billion, reflecting physical damage and short-term economic disruptions. Sandy has opened a window into a much more expensive future.

Much of the American population lives on the coasts. The heart of this country’s economic power resides in New York City, which lies on a sea-level island, right in the path of the massive destructive effects of the climate change realities that meteorologists have warned us about. Experts predict that storms like Sandy, and last year’s Irene, will be more frequent, more violent and more unpredictable as the atmosphere continues to warm—and still we try to pretend that all will be OK. But it won’t.

Reducing federal spending will be a dream deferred when the country faces the need to protect our coastal cities with massive sea walls—or to relocate them altogether. The scale of projects that will be needed to address the consequences of climate change will be huge and will have to fall on the entire nation.

Sandy has dissipated, but we will be paying for her visit for a long time. We can predict with near certainty that her sisters and brothers will drop by in the foreseeable future. If we are unwilling to plan and prepare, we will pay a huge price.

Don’t just take our word for it. Ask Sandy.


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