From the famous musical, Grease, John Travolta belts out “Ohh Sandy, Why-yi-yi-yi,” not knowing that one day, a devastating hurricane named Sandy would cause so much despair to millions of people instead of just him. Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the East Coast on October 29, 2012 and wreaked havoc on New York City, Atlantic City, the Jersey Shore, and D.C., just to name a few. Hurricane Sandy gained many names before she touched down including Superstorm and Frankenstorm because of the enormous mass of the beast. She also broke 7 records in terms of storms including the strongest hurricane to make landfall north of Cape Hatteras, largest Atlantic hurricane on record, highest storm surge, and highest wave in New York Harbor. Not only that, but she left millions of people without electricity and many homeless.
With such a massive superstorm happening, of course the question of climate change came up. Many reports were released immediately following the storm about whether or not this massive storm was fueled by climate change. Out of all these reports, one report from TIME Magazine written by Bryan Walsh talked about the possibilities of linking the Hurricane to climate change but makes the point clear that there is yet to be enough scientific data to determine the definite connection. Walsh starts off his report by talking about the lack of climate change throughout the presidential election, something that has disappointed many environmentalists and Americans. He then proceeds to explain that it is too early to blame powerful storms on climate change, but we also can’t deny that climate change is happening, because that has been scientifically confirmed. Instead of focusing on the actual climate of the storm, Walsh turns the argument around to no matter what the climate is, it is fact that sea-levels are rising and a majority of the world’s population lives on coasts. With so many people living on coasts, their lives and homes are threatened especially when superstorms take place like Sandy, leading to the idea that in order for a community to thrive and prosper it needs to be in a location that is resilient to extreme weather cases like this.
Some facts were presented that relate climate patterns to the intensity of this specific storm, though. The conditions were perfect to allow this storm to have the power it did and even though the evidence isn’t fully there yet, it sounds like climate change definitely played a role for this dangerous storm. Sea water off the East coast was warmer than usual for this time of year, and that is definitely related to the fact that air temperatures for the past year have been one of the hottest on global record. Warm water is connected to more intense tropical storms because it provides more power for the cyclone. Warm air also holds more moisture than cool therefore when it’s warmer outside, more rain gets dropped during a storm. But even with those two facts, it is still thought to be too large of a stretch to blame strong hurricanes on climate change.
All and all, Hurricane Sandy was devastating to the victims of the storm and to the areas where it hit. Billions of dollars will be spent on cleanup for the destruction. Climate Change is happening but it is too early to blame climate change for the intensity of the storm. Hopefully, with more research, answers will be made to this question. Until then, people need to realize the reality of the changing climate and work to find solutions so that our world is protected against whatever forces, natural and unnatural, hit the people living here. Walsh’s last point was the most promising:
We don’t demand absolute certainty before we take action in foreign policy, the economy, or health. We’d be fools to wait until there’s perfect scientific consensus on the role that global warming may be playing in tropical storms before we take action to prepare for both.”- Bryan Walsh, TIME