A Grim Reminder by Dr. Mohammad Manzoor Alam (NOVEMBER 02, 2012)

Superstorm Sandy is a reminder for the United States to join the rest of the world’s efforts to slow down climate change, writes Dr Mohammad Manzoor Alam.

For years America has been in denial on global warming. Earlier this month, a Republican luminary said something to the effect that global warming was some kind of a delusion, without any basis in reality. He was only one of several leaders to make such outlandish statements. The fact is that the whole American establishment has chosen to ignore it.

Now that superstorm Sandy, the most powerful on record, has wreaked great devastation on the eastern coast, it is time for America to wake up from its self-induced hypnosis. This storm, a combination of unusual undulation in the Arctic jet stream and a tropical storm, has a clear connection to global warming. It is basic physics that heat is energy. More heat available to storm systems means there is more energy to drive the winds at a greater speed. It is as simple as that. Naturally, the scientific community expects more fierce storms in times ahead.

As the Arctic ice cap has been melting and flowing away there is less ice around to reflect away the sun’s rays back. The resultant murky waters trap more heat (as we know from experience that white clothes absorb less heat from the sun than coloured clothes), the earth’s surface grows warmer.

Sandy, with a size of 1400 km, at the top speed of 225 km at Mount Washington, has inflicted extraordinary damage to life and property and stalled electioneering. Less than a week before presidential elections, President Obama has said that “the election would take care of itself” and saving lives would have to be the priority.

With property damage estimated at $20 billion and latest death count at 90, it should be a reminder for the United States to stop trifling with climate change statistics and making fun of them.

In the first presidential term of George W. Bush America dissociated itself from the struggle against global warming and refused to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Since then America has remained aloof from the world on this issue. It is time for it to step back into line with all of us and join the movement. That is the only sensible course to adopt.

Our sympathies go to the victims and their next of the kin of this tragedy and we hope and pray that it will not be repeated.


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