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'IT'S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID,' Businessweek says about Sandy

Businessweek links Sandy to global warming in very strong terms. Mayor Bloomberg does too, and backs Obama.

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Businessweek is no stranger to generating buzz-worthy covers. Back in February, the business magazine showed two airplanes engaging in something sort of like sex, obscured in part by a bright rising sun.  

This time around, the tone is darker. Some might even say condescending (others would say justifiably so).

Written in all capital letters, four words dominate two-thirds of the new cover: “IT’S GLOBAL WARMING, STUPID.”

It’s a play on Bill Clinton’s classic campaign slogan from 1992—“It’s the economy, stupid”—which makes it all the more appropriate, given that Americans will be choosing their next president in less than a week.

And, also, because both candidates were criticized by many for not addressing climate change in the debates. One has to wonder, had Sandy struck before October, if the issue would have gotten the attention many felt it deserved.

That said, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg still feels that one presidential candidate is clearly better than the other on climate change. And in the wake of Sandy, he announced earlier today his support for Barack Obama, despite having been very critical of both opponents in the past.  

It’s very possible other independents will follow Bloomberg’s lead. In July, 70% of Americans said they believed in climate change, up from 65% in March. The sharp increase was attributed to the massive heat wave East Coasters were hit by a few months ago.

In fact, the U.S.-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association reported in September that, so far, 2012 has been America’s hottest year on record.

Now add Sandy, which could end up costing as much as US$50 billion, to the mix. Not to mention it’s only been seven years since Katrina.

For those who don’t believe the scientific community, which has been unequivocal about climate change for some time now, perhaps flooded streets and death tolls will prove to be more persuasive.

As Businessweek’s Paul M. Barrett points out, “it’s unsophisticated to blame any given storm on climate change,” but hurricanes arise from a concoction of factors affected by climate change. So even though monstrous storms like Sandy would still strike from time to time, climate change makes them worse, and more frequent.

For those who still think the cover takes the matter too far, Eric Pooley, senior vice president of the Environmental Defense Fund, offers a baseball analogy. “We can’t say that steroids caused any one home run by Barry Bonds, but steroids sure helped him hit more and hit them farther,” he tells Businessweek. “Now we have weather on steroids.”  

With Sandy a few days behind us, new questions are starting to arise. Big questions. Such as, will climate change finally be moved to the front burner? Culturally linked as we are, the discussions that happen down south will likely find their way into Canada’s political arena. And we certainly have things to talk about. Let’s not forget that last year the Harper government withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s only legally-binding plan to fight climate change.

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