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Climate Change

Hurricane Sandy: The New Normal

Flooding in New York City after Hurricane Sandy: October 2012.
Flooding in New York City after Hurricane Sandy: October 2012.

A Climate Change Wake-up Call

We have a challenging recovery ahead from Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, we will be dealing with more such devastating disasters, which may become our new normal.

We lift up all who were harmed by Hurricane Sandy along the East Coast of the United States, as well as our neighbors in the Caribbean, where Sandy battered Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Cuba. Our hearts and prayers are with all those affected by this devastating storm.

To see how United Methodists are responding to the survivors of this storm and to participate in the relief efforts, visit United Methodist Committee on Relief's website

As relief and recovery efforts continue, news stories are beginning to illuminate some of the injustices we saw during Hurricane Katrina. People’s capacity to cope with power outages and storm damage has a lot to do with economic resources, racial/ethnic identity, age and physical ability. The reports of frightened low-income elders trapped in high-rise apartments for days without light, heat, food or elevator access were particularly heartbreaking.

Hurricane Sandy should serve as our nation’s wake-up call.

Local authorities must revise emergency and disaster plans to better care for vulnerable members of our communities and ensure that groups representing people of color, low-income communities and the elderly are at the table when authorities reassess plans. This cause is one United Methodist Women’s units and local churches could and should champion.

When Hurricane Sandy hit, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org and a United Methodist, said in an interview with National Public Radio: “It’s really important that everybody, even those who aren’t in the . . . path of this storm, reflect about what it means that in the warmest year in U.S. history, . . . in a year when we saw, essentially, summer sea ice in the Arctic just vanish before our eyes, what it means that we’re now seeing storms of this unprecedented magnitude. If there was ever a wake-up call, this is it.”

While television and radio news have been covering Hurricane Sandy around the clock since before the storm, they have paid little attention to the possible connection between the storm and climate change. Scientists have been warning for years how global warming would make North Atlantic hurricanes stronger and more powerful. In mid-October, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a major study on the correlation between warmer sea-surface temperatures and increase in stronger Atlantic hurricanes. These scientists have been warning that such elevations in temperature are a result of our increasing use of coal, gas and oil and the greenhouse gases they emit.

We need to remind our public servants that they do not serve us well by denying or ignoring the facts of climate change. If the scientific evidence and other extreme weather events have not done it, we hope Hurricane Sandy’s legacy will be that it served as our nation’s wake-up call.

Climate change is one of United Methodist Women’s four priority issues for the new quadrennium (2013–2016). We are expanding our climate justice ministry in new and exciting ways. We invite you to read about and join these efforts.

We have a challenging recovery ahead from Hurricane Sandy. Unfortunately, we will be dealing with more such devastating disasters, which may become our new normal. We have an urgent need to assist with recovery efforts to aid the affected people. We have an equally urgent need to work on the Church’s task of solving the root causes of climate change so that we as a human race have a sustainable future and may pass on a livable earth to our children and our grandchildren.

Please watch our website for details as our climate justice programming unfolds in the months ahead. 

Take Action

  • Donate to Hurricane Sandy relief.
  • Advocate for better weather reporting! Send e-mails or letters to your local TV and radio stations. Contact the station’s head meteorologist and copy the station manager. Ask your meteorologists to fulfill their ethical responsibilities as professional broadcast journalists. They have a duty to help educate the public about a major factor, climate change, contributing to hazardous weather when it occurs. 
  • Get involved in United Methodist Women’s national campaign to reduce our carbon footprint. 
  • Advocate to halt a major new source of greenhouse gas emissions: the Keystone XL pipeline. 
    • Call the White House comment line: 1-202-456-1111.
    • Send an e-mail to President Obama.
    • Contact the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives switchboard: 1-202-224-3121.
    • Send an e-mail to your congressional representatives or senators, go to their personal websites at the House of Representatives or Senate website. 
Last Updated: 04/07/2014

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