New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says he’s been so darn busy helping his state recover from Sandy that he has no time “to ponder the esoteric question” of whether global warming super-charged the superstorm. He said of those victimized by Sandy, “I don’t think they give a damn” what caused it.
Christie did have time to joke with David Letterman about his weight on CBS. And he even had time to fly down to New Orleans for the Super Bowl and some photo-ops.
He should have spent a few minutes talking to leading climate experts, who say climate change did worsen Sandy’s impact — and we can expect more frequent and destructive superstorms until we act on carbon pollution.
Here is what Christie said at a news conference Tuesday when asked about a link between climate change and Sandy:
“I have no idea. I’m not a climatologist and in the last hundred days I have to tell you the truth, I’ve been focused on a lot of things, the cause of this is not one of them that I’ve focused on…. Now, maybe in the subsequent months and years, after I get done with trying to rebuild the state and put people back in their homes, I will have the opportunity to ponder the esoteric question of the cause of this storm…. If you asked of these people in Union Beach, I don’t think they give a damn.”
You would think that the governor of a state slammed by two superstorms in two years would give a damn whether storms like Irene and Sandy had become the norm thanks to climate change and man-made carbon pollution. After all, in August 2011, Christie himself said of Hurricane Irene: “From a flooding perspective, this could be a 100-year event.”
His neighboring governor, Andrew Cuomo of NY, who has also been pretty busy, prebutted the charge that this is an esoteric issue, in his recent State of the State Address:
First thing we have to learn is to accept the fact — and I believe it is a fact — that climate change is real. It is denial to say this is — each of these situations is a once in a lifetime. There have been — there is a 100 year flood every two years now. It’s inarguable that the sea is warmer and that there is a changing weather pattern, and the time to act is now. We must lower the regional greenhouse gas emission cap. And let’s make a real difference on climate change by reducing the CO2 cap.
Christie unilaterally withdrew from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) back in 2011, bowing to Koch pressure.
Even President Obama had time to figure out that this isn’t an esoteric question but a key moral issue of our time. As he said in his second inaugural address:
We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. .
So even if the state doesn’t join with others to reduce its carbon pollution — indeed, especially if it doesn’t — planning for future superstorms becomes that much more important. Environmental blogger Bill Wolfe thinks “Christie should spend some time reading his own State Hazard Mitigation Plan instead of doing Letterman and the Superbowl. Here are some excerpts:
- GRADUALLY OCCURRING phenomena are more predictable and allow for long-range planning and measured preparation. On-going data collection, research, and modeling continue to refine our knowledge concerning the effects of climate change on the expression of phenomena that are regarded as coastal hazards. The U.S. Geological Survey evaluated the vulnerability of the mid-Atlantic region to the effects of sea level rise. The results of the study are presented in the report, Potential for Shoreline Changes Due to Sea-Level Rise Along the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Region. The USGS study indicates that most of New Jersey’s coast is highly susceptible to the effects of sea level rise.
- SEA LEVEL CHANGE – While the precise rate of sea level rise is uncertain, current models indicate that climate change will cause the rate to increase. Based on the trend of sea level rise from 1961 through 2003, sea level would rise by almost 6-inches by the end of this century in the absence of any effects of climate change. Taking climate change into account, sea level is projected to rise between 7 and 21 inches by 2100. This increase would result in the threat of more sustained extreme storm surges, increased coastal erosion, escalating inundation of coastal wetlands and saline intrusion.
220.127.116.11.1 Preparing For Coastal Hazards & Climate Change
… Preparing for Climate Change: A Guidebook for Local, Regional, and State Governments, provides a process designed to guide regions and communities in preparing for the effects of climate change. In addition, The Heinz Center has prepared a report on human vulnerability to coastal disasters.
So the good news is that some folks in the state government have begun planning for the impacts of climate change on New Jersey’s coast. The bad news is the man in charge of overseeing any such planning thinks the matter is an “esoteric” one that his residents don’t “give a damn about.”