Will global warming bring storm barriers to New York Harbor? Bloomberg and Cuomo blame Hurricane Sandy on climate change
- Governor Cuomo makes unprecedented suggestion of a possible levee being built for the city
- Despite a chorus of support for the climate change link, some experts deny there is sufficient evidence to blame global warming for the storm
Hurricane Sandy may have seemed uniquely damaging to those caught in its path, but some have suggested that global warming could bring even more devastating storms to the U.S. in coming years.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo and mayor Michael Bloomberg both pointed to climate change as the culprit for Sandy’s ravages as they addressed the scale of the destruction on Tuesday morning.
And Cuomo even raised the possibility of a levee being built in New York Harbor, an unprecedented move to protect the 400-year-old city.
Both Andrew Cuomo (left) and Michael Bloomberg agree that climate change is a cause of the superstorm
Many observers have pointed out that it is almost impossible to pinpoint climate change as the cause of specific weather events.
Moreover, the U.S. has long been subject to hurricanes and other damaging storms which have been just as violent as Sandy.
But the terrors wrought by Sandy, combined with last year’s destructive Hurricane Irene, have led New York’s top officials to raise the spectre of global warming.
At a press conference in Manhattan on Tuesday, Cuomo said he had told President Obama that ‘we have a 100-year flood every two years now’.
He added: ‘There has been a series of extreme weather incidents. That is not a political statement. That is a factual statement.
‘Anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns, I think is denying reality.’
Bloomberg echoed the sentiment, saying: ‘What is clear is that the storms we’ve experienced in the last year or so around this country and around the world are much more severe than before.
‘Whether that’s global warming or what, I don’t know, but we’ll have to address those issues.’
When the governor was asked if officials were contemplating building a levee in the city’s harbour, he replied: ‘It is something we’re going to have to start thinking about.
‘The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level.’
Since New York City’s foundation in the early 17th century, the lower tip of Manhattan has been at the heart of metropolitan life – despite its vulnerability to flooding from the harbour.
Al Gore predictably joined the climate-change chorus on Tuesday, describing the hurricane as ‘a disturbing sign of things to come’ in a post on his blog.
‘We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis,’ the former Vice President added.
Two possible links between global warming and the damage wrought by Sandy are the raised sea levels which make it easier for the coast to flood, and warm air in the Atlantic Ocean increasing the fierceness of the storm.
However, many experts have denied that climate change was behind Hurricane Sandy – Houston Chronicle science reporter Eric Bergen wrote that the connection was ‘a stretch that is just not supported by science at this time.’
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has previously said that there is little evidence global warming worsens tropical storms and hurricanes.
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