Climate and Cost Concerns Mount in Wake of “Frankenstorm”
The mammoth storm that caused severe flooding, damage and fatalities to the eastern U.S. will raise pressure on Congress and the next president to address the impacts of climate change as the price tag for extreme weather disasters escalates. Hurricane Sandy devastated the east coast of the United States, claiming dozens of lives so far, cutting power to over 8 million people and damaging major roadways, buildings and infrastructure, such as New York’s 108-year old subway system. Eqecat, one of the three primary firms used by the insurance industry to calculate disaster exposures, said Sandy could cause anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion in insured losses and from $10 billion to $20 billion in economic losses.
Environmental groups and some political analysts said the exclusion of the climate change issue in this year’s presidential and vice presidential debates was a missed opportunity to bring the issue back into the national debate. Although the House of Representatives passed a comprehensive climate change bill in 2009, similar efforts failed in the Senate. The issue became a taboo subject after the Tea Party and some stiffly opposed Republicans ramped up efforts to derail climate legislation and regulatory programs to slash greenhouse gas emissions.