Sense and Sustainability Executive Director Jisung Park and Business & Technology Editor James Hacker first wrote a longer version of this article that appeared on Bloomberg.com. To read the full article, click here.
Sure, it would be rash to describe Hurricane Sandy as climate change incarnate. But it does make one wonder just how much longer we can ignore the bigger picture.
The bigger picture is that of a storm eating the northeastern United States from the Carolinas in the South to Lake Michigan in the West. More than 60 million Americans have been affected, many of them in areas where hurricane damages have not historically been a concern. Initial estimates by Eqecat put insured losses at $10 billion to $20 billion, with up to another $50 billion in economic damages. Once economists tally the total losses from property damage to homes, stores, cars, and utilities, as well as the opportunity costs of foregone wages and other productivity losses, the figure is likely to be even higher.
Storm-related damages of this magnitude are not new. Hurricane Irene cost the economy more than $7 billion last year, and Hurricane Katrina is estimated to have caused more than $100 billion (pdf) in damages. What is new about Sandy is that it hit directly at the heart of urban America – New York City. Sandy revealed New York’s vulnerabilities the way an arrow in the heel revealed Achilles’s.
To read more, click here.