Hurricane Sandy raises climate questions

By Nicole Branco

Ice melting in the arctic (Photo taken from the film "An Inconvenient Truth")
Ice melting in the arctic (Photo taken from the film “An Inconvenient Truth”)

Did superstorm Sandy prove global warming to be real? The topic of global warming is constantly being discussed and observed in the media and could possibly explain some of the weather conditions we have been facing.
“The huge ice loss this summer, and subsequent enhanced warming of the Arctic, may be playing an important role in the evolution of Sandy by enhancing the amplitude of waves in the jet stream,” said Dr. Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University.
According to Francis, the occurrence of global warming is increasing the number of storms. Although the change in climate plays a vital role on these natural disasters, that does not mean that hurricane Sandy alone can prove anything about climate change.
Professor Christopher Picone, the Environmental Science professor here at Fitchburg State University, agrees. Picone is very passionate about the topic of climate change and incorporates that into his lectures.
“I wouldn’t point to one storm and say that’s because of climate change,” says Picone.
He says that climate change is more of a trend over a long period of time and not just one single occurrence of a storm.
He also says that the probability of severe hurricanes is higher because of climate change but it is not because of climate change that these storms occur. “There is a huge difference,” he says.
Both scientists seem to agree on the idea that Sandy is not the only proof for climate change, but believe that the storm does in fact support the idea of global warming,
When asked Picone’s opinion on the fact that climate change was not mentioned in the last presidential debate he says, “It’s really discouraging.”
He also adds that they should have talked about it because it affects international relations. Everyone in the world is disturbed by the change in climate, you would think everyone would want to know about the environment.
“They’re afraid,” Picone says regarding the debate. He says that the candidates don’t want to make people angry by speaking about the subject since many people have different ideas about it.
“It’s not really their fault though. Politicians will respond to what people are upset about, if people don’t want to know or don’t care then why address it?” concludes Picone.
On the same issue of people not talking about climate change, Picone refers to a PBS video entitled “Climate of Doubt” that discusses the fact that people are not talking about climate change as much as they used to in previous years.
“People just don’t want to listen to science” is one of the first things the video mentions.
Christopher Picone comments that “science is pretty clear,” meaning that you cannot deny the history of weather patterns.
James Taylor, the organizer of the convention about global warming in the video says that prior to the 2007 and 2008 elections they were told that they should tone it down on the topic of global warming because there weren’t enough people who cared about the issue.
Taylor says that if they speak to enough people, they hope the topic “will work its way up the political ladder.”
Many scientists have been trying to prove to many people out there that global warming does exist and is a serious matter. The number of people talking about it or seeming to care has drastically gone down and the fact that it was not even mentioned in the last presidential debate proves that.