By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF October 31, 2012
President Obama and Mitt Romney seemed determined not to discuss climate change in this campaign. So thanks to Hurricane Sandy for forcing the issue: Isn’t it time to talk not only about weather, but also about climate?
It’s true, of course, that no single storm or drought can be attributed to climate change. Atlantic hurricanes in the Northeast go way back, as the catastrophic “snow hurricane” of 1804 attests. But many scientists believe that rising carbon emissions could make extreme weather — like Sandy — more likely.
“You can’t say any one single event is reflective of climate change,” William Solecki, the co-chairman of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, told me. “But it’s illustrative of the conditions and events and scenarios that we expect with climate change.”
In that sense, whatever its causes, Sandy offers a window into the way ahead.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York says he told President Obama the other day that it seems “we have a 100-year flood every two years now.” Indeed, The Times has reported that three of the 10 biggest floods in Lower Manhattan since 1900 have occurred in the last three years.
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