Cuomo, extreme weather and climate change

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about storm damage during a visit to Keene Saturday afternoon. Photo: Brian Mann

Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke about storm damage during a visit to Keene Saturday afternoon. Photo: Brian Mann

The National Weather Service says it was a historically wet month in June, with rain totals measured in Massena coming in at a soggy 7.72 inches.  That’s nearly an inch and a half above the last record set a decade ago.  That’s a lot of water.

Flash flood watches remain in effect, with more storms and heavy rain likely today.

During his visit to Keene over the weekend, Governor Andrew Cuomo talked about New York’s recent spate of “extreme” weather and the need to build new and better infrastructure to deal with the problem.

I believe one of the new challenges for the state is extreme weather, call it what you want.  Climate change tends to be a politicized topic, but I know one thing for sure.  We have more extreme weather than we’ve ever seen before. 

We know the ocean is warming, we know that’s creating turbulent weather, and we know first-hand that we’ve been feeling it here in New York state.  Hurricane Sandy, Irene, Lee, it just goes on and on.  It seems like it’s a never-ending continuum of extreme weather. 

It’s something we have to take seriously, something we have to prepare for, on the state side we’re learning, we’ve investing in emergency management services.  And we’re also working to make the kind of infrastructure improvements we have to make, culverts, storm drainage. 

Because it is going to happen again, I believe that.  And rather than be surprised every time and have people say ‘This is a one in a hundred year flood,’ a one in a hundred year flood happens every three years now. 

So let’s make the kinds of changes we have to make.  Let’s make the kinds of improvements, so when the storm does hit it does less damage.

Cuomo’s description of changing weather patterns in New York struck me as a little ambiguous, particularly his statement that ‘climate changes tends to be politicized’ and his use of the phrases ‘extreme weather’ and ‘call it what you want’ rather than speaking plainly about climate change.

So I asked him if he still has doubts about the science of global warming.  He answered this way:

I believe it’s very real. Some people discount it for political reasons and they think it’s the beginning of a political speech.  What I’m trying to say to them is that it has nothing to do with politics..

The inarguable fact is that we have extreme weather patterns.  We have more storms, more often, and they’re more severe than they have been before. 

And that’s a reality.  As the state’s chief executive, this gets very practical for me.  It can be a matter of life and death.

What do you think?  As the gray weather continues do you see climate change, or just a drizzly summer?  And what do you think of Cuomo’s leadership on global warming?  Comments welcome.

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16 Comments on “Cuomo, extreme weather and climate change”

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  1. Paul says:

    I see climate change and too much rain! Like the Governor all I know is we gotta do somethings either way. It is an economic opportunity for the region. I just spent a bunch of money re-building one of my docks to be higher and stronger. I spent all the money locally.

  2. Paul says:

    I hope the 7 pairs of giant scissors they used to cut the ribbon at the new fire house were sourced locally!

  3. Pete Klein says:

    Without getting on the Climate Change/Global Warming bandwagon, I agree with all measure to curb it.
    The problem I have is all measures proposed will amount to nothing if the greatest cause of pollution is not owned up to – the continued rise in the human population.
    More and more people equals more and more demand for energy from any and all sources.
    We are crowding out more and more species and will eventually crowd out ourselves and destroy what we need to live if the human population continues to explode.
    I know full well that the Adirondacks are not causing the population explosion but even here there are more people than the land could support if we were to try to get all of our food and energy from within the Blue Line.

  4. Paul says:

    Pete look to the stars. There is so much space out there!! Plus this zombie thing is going to take care of that population problem.

  5. Paul says:

    Maybe we should be turning all this rain into power. Hydro does not produce green house gas emissions. Green groups don’t seem to like that kind of green energy?

  6. Pete Klein says:

    Paul, yea, right. Just think if the Hudson had been dammed, we wouldn’t be arguing about wilderness vs. wild forest because most of the land would now be under water.

  7. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    It is time to recognize that the climate has changed. Changed. The atmosphere is changed and therefore every single weather event is due in some part to the changed input of carbon. If it hails it is because, at least in part, of the carbon in the atmosphere. If it is a beautiful sunny day, same thing.

  8. The Original Larry says:

    What do you propose to curb the human population explosion, Pete? That seems to be your go-to reason for everything; I expect you have a solution.

  9. Paul says:

    Pete I am thinking at least of some micro hydro for Adirondack residents. You shouldn’t have to pay for power with all that water around. Why are we talking about getting rid of dams when we should be making them make power?

    Sequestration is the only answer. It is at least the only answer that a majority of folks can live with and get behind. If we keep talking about solar panels and electric cars it is all over. The only alternative (and a simple one) is nuclear power. Plus if you have an accident or somebody goes nuts with it it takes care of the population issue!

    Enrico Fermi has already saved the planet. Yet we argue and fight as the waters rise.

  10. Paul says:

    BTW I have solar panels on one place I own (totally off grid) but it is not a sensible worldwide solution to this problem.

  11. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, providing a continent wide grid to African or Asia isn’t a great solution either when individual homes and small villages could be provided with enough solar power to make large improvements in their lives, such as power to run a well pump for a village, a small grain mill, a light in each home, a cell phone charger, that sort of thing.

  12. Pete Klein says:

    Nuclear power is probably the smartest option available to meet the electrical demands.

  13. Paul says:

    KLH, that is true. That technology exists and if the end user thinks it is the best solution and are willing to use it then it will work. If you travel around China you see lots of solar panels in rural areas. But even there they are leaning toward grid tied solutions. Fifty new coal burning power plants being built per year in China? We gotta sequester that carbon or it wont be pretty. We are becoming more and more urban, we are not mostly living out in the rural areas where what you suggest is practical.

    Bottom line is that you have to go with the solution that people will use. Here in the US it isn’t the non-existence of certain technology (solar, wind etc.) that is the problem. It is that people don’t want to use it, or don’t need it, or it isn’t cost effective. You can’t sell people things that they have no interest in buying. You sell them what they want to buy. You can do that with sequestration or nuclear power (if we didn’t make it so expensive).

  14. Mervel says:

    I am not at all worried about human population trends. We see declining populations across the Western nations and we will see declining populations or leveling populations in Asia and Africa as they develop economically which they are doing.

    Start with getting rid of all coal fired power plants, everyone of them. We are on the way now with the gas boom but more needs to done.

    But yes I would say the weather/climate has already changed. The other question is how long are we going to subsidize people who want to live in areas that are essentially un insurable due to flooding, fires and rising sea levels? From an environmental impact perspective why are we paying anyone with tax dollars to re-build a home on a beach or a barrier Island?

  15. Paul says:

    Even once we clean up our carbon act we still need to get ready for more climate change it is not all man made.

  16. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Mervel, the really devastating effects of climate change are still to come. Sea levels have been rising and it seems almost certain that they will rise much, much more. With so many cities around the world at sea level now we are in for some tough times. There were lots of people warning but did anyone listen?

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