Hurricane Sandy means it's time to act on climate change

Readers can donate to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts through the American Red Cross (visit or text “RedCross” to 90999). To help international victims of Hurricane Sandy, which also devastated Caribbean nations like Haiti, the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas, visit

When the “storm of the century” starts showing up every year, it’s time to pay attention.

Remember that Hurricane Irene resulted in mandatory evacuations in lower Manhattan. Now, a year later, parts of lower Manhattan are still submerged days after Hurricane Sandy.

New York City isn’t prepared for hurricanes and flooding. But the seas are rising, and warmer ocean temperatures allow hurricanes to reach the Mid-Atlantic states with their strength intact.

Now, NYC does need to worry. And so do all the rest of the more than 50 percent of Americans who live within 50 miles of the U.S. coasts. The tides and storm surges will be higher, the winds and storms stronger—all because the average temperature of the planet is rising.

We’re done arguing over what caused this. It no longer matters.

But it is a fact. The time for mitigation of the effects of climate change is slipping away. We need decisive leadership to prepare for extreme-weather events, including droughts, that will affect not just all Americans, but also the population of the entire planet.

Turning disaster relief over to the private sector would be a second disaster. The private sector exists to make a profit. Disaster relief that attempts to do so is not mere profiteering, it is inhumane.

So now, right now, let’s all move forward, act like grown-ups, and start making sure that we’re ready to face what the planet will—not might, but will—send our way.