Karen article on the US Presidential election and superstorm ‘Sandy’

Posted: 05/11/12

As I write, none of us knows who will emerge victorious from this most closely fought US Presidential election, but what is strikingly clear is the extent to which one weather event changed the tone and direction of the election with just days to go. The superstorm ‘Sandy', that devastated parts of Haiti, Cuba and New York may or may not have been directly caused by the change in our climate but, like the summer's drought in the US, Hurricane Katrina a few years ago and our terrible rain soaked summer, it may have been. Most importantly, climate change makes these extreme weather conditions more likely. President Obama won credit for his response to the damage wreaked on the east coast of the US, but again more importantly, the world began to talk about climate change again after years in which the economic crisis pushed it down the list of political priorities.

Experts agree- and they really do agree, despite the nonsense talked by climate change deniers- that any change in average global temperatures beyond 2 degrees C above pre-industrial levels will have grave and potentially devastating consequences. There will be more floods, more droughts, more storms. Lives will be lost, billions of pounds of damage done ( as in New York), climate change refugees will add to victims of war and tyranny, and the costs of food will rise as harvests falter.

Yet the slow rate in which the world economies are cutting carbon emissions sets us on a course for much, much higher average temperatures than those we are being warned of. Not only Britain but countries around the world need to set themselves on a new path to cut carbon before the damage is too great to be repaired.