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Questions Raised By Sandy

Obviously, Hurricane Sandy has, and continues, to wreak havoc on the eastern U.S. coastline, and it cannot be denied it is a big storm. Climate scientists, along with hurricane researchers, in their endeavors to learn more about the relationship between climate and hurricanes, have begun to ask critical questions about the impact of climate change.

The first step though has been to acknowledge whether climate change has an impact on the size of the storm, or if it was just a naturally occurring large storm. The science is still out on that question (apparently), but there are scientists who have said climate change is the reason for the large storm, but in a more indirect manner.

Climate change has done just that—changed the climate. With the increase in temperatures in northern waters, storms are able to progress further north, continuing to gain or plateau in strength, and make landfall in areas unaccustomed to hurricanes and associated severe weather.

Additionally, the Earth’s atmosphere has warmed, trapping more moisture, which is drawn into the storms, increasing the amount of rain. It is these indirect contributions that cause extreme weather to become worse, and according to climatologists and scientists, Hurricane Sandy is just another example of climate change exacerbating storms.

Another prominent question raised by Hurricane Sandy is the role of the federal government—whether to have a strong, central government to handle the emergency response, or instead leave it up to the states.

While a classic philosophical and political debate topic, it is extremely relevant and important to determine, lest the country repeat the disastrous response from FEMA after Hurricane Katrina. Simply stated, emergency response is all about collecting, allocating, and distributing resources. The problem is determining who is better suited for those responses, and it appears the Obama administration is poising itself to be well-prepared to aid the states affected.

So while the unaffected can spar over what level of government should be handling the emergency response, those able to receive government aid will get it.

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