By Chief Political Correspondent Michael Aron
Hurricane Sandy intensified the political debate about whether climate change is also causing extreme weather events.
Gov. Chris Christie said in May there is no proof that a warming planet caused Sandy and called the question “esoteric” and above his pay grade.
“If you think climate change and sea level rise is esoteric, then how are you going to fix the problem?” asked Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
Tittel joined Hoboken Assemblyman Ruben Ramos and a Hoboken councilman today to urge more action on climate change.
They stood outside the Hoboken Rail Terminal, which was severely damaged by Sandy.
“My fourth ward constituents have to deal with flooding even during simple rainy days, so it’s that much worse here when a major storm hits,” Hoboken Councilman Tim Occhipinti said.
The trio urged all New Jerseyans to get behind President Obama’s new climate change action plan announced last month.
“As a president, as a father and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act,” Obama said.
Obama called for new limits on carbon emissions from power plants.
The climate change debate is becoming a Democrat-Republican divide, like immigration or gun control.
Physicist turned Congressman Rush Holt running for Senate just picked up the endorsement of seven Nobel laureates and released a web ad saying that without action on climate change, “millions will die.”
Republican Senate candidate Steve Lonegan reacted to the ad. “It’s outrageous, it’s irresponsible and it’s actually silly to just make a claim that millions will die just demonstrates the bizarre … they have no proof of such a ridiculous statement. So the real question is, does Cory Booker, Frank Pallone and Sheila Oliver agree with Rush Holt’s radical, irresponsible and silly statements. I want to know if they really buy into this far left extremism,” he said.
“I think what’s happened to the Republican Party is that they’ve become captures of the Koch Brothers and the Tea Party and the radical right that not only denies the science of climate change, but they deny evolution and gravity,” Tittel said. “And I think that’s what’s happening because the climate was always bipartisan. Newt Gingrich did ads with Nancy Pelosi four years ago on climate.”
Last week’s heat wave, Sandy, Irene, a blizzard before Halloween — these things don’t just happen, they said here.
“Last week I returned from a family trip to Puerto Rico and couldn’t believe how much hotter it was here than it was in Puerto Rico,” Ramos said.
Tittel said Rutgers studies show 9 percent of New Jersey could be under water in 50 years.
“Places like the Meadowlands and vulnerable infrastructure like Newark Airport and Port Newark could be flooded regularly. When the Giants play the Dolphins in the future in the Meadowlands, they could be real dolphins,” he said.
It’s the believers against the deniers, at least for now.