Timothy Egan, in the NYTimes, “Nature Votes Last“:
… Climate change is to the Republican base what leprosy once was to healthy humans — untouchable and unmentionable. Their party is financed by people whose fortunes are dependent upon denying that humans have caused the earth’s weather patterns to change for the worse.
At the same time, Republicans have spent the last year trying to win an argument about the role of government as a helping hand. By now, most people know that Mitt Romney, in his base-pandering mode during the primaries, made the federal disaster agency FEMA sound like a costly nuisance, better off orphaned to the states or the private sector.
His party can get away with fact-denial — in global warming’s case — and win cable-television arguments about FEMA, so long as something like a major news event, e.g., reality, does not shatter the picture. That’s where the storm upset a somewhat predictable race….
Also in the NYTimes, business journalist Joe Nocera looks at planning for a future where “once in a generation” storms are a lot more common:
…That fewer than 50 New Yorkers died in the storm is a testament to what New York has become very good at: evacuating. In 2006, Mayor Michael Bloomberg pushed the city’s Office of Emergency Management to develop a worst-case scenario evacuation plan; it has been the game plan ever since. As Sandy approached, the city told residents of the most flood-prone areas to leave, and readied its first responders. Incredibly, a large coastal neighborhood called Breezy Point in Queens burned to the ground with no one being seriously hurt. Most of them had left.
What New York is not so good at is preventing big storms from exacting an enormous toll on infrastructure, buildings and businesses. In the case of Sandy, the damage to New York City is estimated to be as much as $17 billion. Cities like London, Amsterdam — and, yes, Providence — have built systems to minimize the damage even Category 3 storms can cause. But not New York.
Part of the reason is that the cost of any such system would run into the billions of dollars. But another reason is that many environmentalists are firmly opposed to a big public-works project, fearing that it would give people a false sense of security about the problems posed by climate change. They prefer taking smaller steps, like raising the height of subway grates to keep water out of the subway tunnels. Bloomberg has embraced this approach…