Climate change denial obstructs effective disaster relief

Although active discussions about the causes of climate change are occurring from both sides of the nation’s political parties, little has actually been done to prepare states like New York from the destructive forces of extreme weather. The damages left by Hurricanes Irene and Lee and Superstorm Sandy have led to the devastation of whole communities and left thousands displaced. New York state alone suffered over $30 billion in damages.

The refusal of both Democrats and Republicans to explore solutions is particularly egregious. Republicans most often agree that Earth’s climate is either not changing or changing due to natural causes. Democrats contend that climate change stems from human activity. 

More time is spent debating what causes extreme weather rather than taking action to prevent its damaging effects. Gov. Andrew Cuomo agrees that the government’s gridlock needs to end, and that Americans “need to act, not simply react.” It is not only important to accept the reality of climate change, but pertinent to take cautionary measures in the aftermath of a storm. 

One of the major problems that plagued Americans after Superstorm Sandy was the gasoline shortage. By upgrading the system with place generators and pumping systems, gas stations can repair the damage made by refineries without creating long lines and customer panic. 

Infrastructure also needs to be upgraded and protected. Bridges need to be improved to withstand these violent storms, especially for those in the next generation. When flights are cancelled or subways flooded, the state government should provide more options for those who are stranded without transportation. Cuomo also called for more innovative mechanisms for communication. In an editorial for the New York Daily News he wrote, “We need a better system to track patients in healthcare facilities and vulnerable people in the community so first responders know immediately who may need help.” 

Cuomo also plans to form three commissions that will be key components in preparing New York for disasters. They will be responsible for educating residents on how to prepare for natural disaster, how the government will respond in its aftermath and what changes we can make to the infrastructure “that will better prepare us to face Mother Nature’s inevitable fury.”

In less than a year we have seen storms like Sandy destroy thousands of homes and leave millions without electricity. Human activity is somewhat to blame for the increase in natural disasters. The danger posed by a spike in natural disasters is far-reaching. 

All around the world people live in areas with underdeveloped infrastructure, leaving these areas even more vulnerable to destruction. According to LiveScience, “This creates a situation in which ordinary events like earthquakes and hurricanes become increasingly elevated to the level of natural disasters that reap heavy losses in human life and property.”

Although political parties are conflicted on preventing climate change, the public needs to play a larger role in preparing for natural disasters. As the environment changes and people continue to experience the effects of the changing climate, citizens – along with politicians – will have to take steps toward preventing the damages caused by natural disasters.