Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change

Humans have been accused for decades for being detrimental to the Earth, namely by exponentially speeding-up global warming. From gas-guzzling cars to burning fossil fuels for industry, humans HAVE made some sort of impact. What we don’t think about is how much our impact and global warming contributes to climate change, which some scientists say affected the greatness of Hurricane Sandy.

As defined by the EPA, climate change “refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among other effects, that occur over several decades or longer.” Global warming is defined as “the recent and ongoing rise in global average temperature near Earth’s surface”, which is caused by the increased amount of greenhouses that are emitted into the atmosphere. From this definition, we can conclude that global warming is an important contributor to climate change.

Global warming and climate change can cause many environmental problems, including rising sea levels due to glacial melts, and weather changes due to the rising temperature of the ocean. Some scientists believe that both of these side-effects of the change in the atmosphere cause Sandy to be so destructive. One scientist, Michael Oppenheimer, studied flooding in New York City, and hypothesized, earlier in 2012 (before the storm), that “what used to be once-in-a-century devastating floods in New York City would soon happen every three to 20 years… blamed global warming for pushing up sea levels and changing hurricane patterns.” Obviously, he was correct, because New York City experienced hurricane-surge flooding during the week of Hurricane Sandy. For years, Oppenheimer and his team have been warning the public of the devastating effects of climate change on our world as we know it.

However, it is important to note that this hypothesis about Hurricane Sandy:

“Still, [climate scientists] say it’s unfair to blame climate change for Sandy and the destruction it left behind. [Climate scientists] cautioned that they cannot yet conclusively link a single storm to global warming, and any connection is not as clear and simple as environmental activists might contend.”

Another aspect of climate change, global warming, and super storms to think about is the repercussions of their side-effects. Flooding creates serious damage, both to the environment and to the anthropshere (defined as humans and what they contribute to the Earth in terms of buildings and structures). Flooding is dangerous for many reasons, one being the pollution of the water which is being flooded. If the ocean or river is polluted and it floods, the toxins in the body of water begin to sink into the Earth in other places, sometimes infecting the ground water, which affects the water supply for everyone in that area. Floods can also cause mold and of course, devastating damage.

No matter if/when another storm is schedule to hit the United States or the world, it is important to note how humans may be contributing to the problem. This is just another reason why humans should think about helping save the environment, because when Mother Nature “talks back”  to us, we obviously aren’t happy with what she has to say.

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2 thoughts on “Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change

  1. Pingback: AGU 2012 Day 1: Scientific Literacy, Communication and Climate Change « Mass Media Musings

  2. Pingback: Is Climate Change a “Public Problem”? « Mass Media Musings

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