Sandy's destructive path has left a scar on our nation. Our hearts go out to the families of the more than 90 people killed, and to the Americans still struggling without power, food and water.
In 1775, Paul Revere warned Massachusetts revolutionaries of an invasion coming from the sea. With climate change, low-lying areas of Boston and the Bay State could now face an invasion of the sea itself.
Here's what we know about climate science, and how it specifically relates to Sandy.
One, it's hotter. We just had the warmest 12-month period in the continental United States on record. 2000 to 2009 was the warmest decade on record. That is heating up the oceans, including the Atlantic off the East Coast, where ocean temperature readings are the highest they've been since 1854. That warmer water fuels stronger storms and extreme rainfall.
Two, it's higher. As water warms it expands, raising sea-levels. And it's happening faster on the Eastern seaboard, where sea level rise has increased up to 4 times greater than other parts of the globe. When you combine a stronger storm with high tides and sea-level rise, you get devastation like we are seeing along the New Jersey shore and New York City.
Three, it's more harmful. We are seeing dramatic changes in the Arctic, including the disappearance of sea ice. New scientific research suggests this melting could be affecting the jet stream. That can turn what used to be a harmless storm into a direct hit on the East Coast. And that storm will be stronger, pushing higher seas farther inland.
If you want to take action today, I suggest giving to the American Red Cross. They can take your donation and get help to the people who need it now.
But it's also a time to talk about what a post-Sandy climate change plan must look like, to deal with the impacts we can no longer avoid and the dangerous effects we still have a chance to prevent.
For years I have fought for legislation that cuts carbon pollution and promotes clean energy. We have succeeded in boosting fuel economy for motor vehicles and improving appliance efficiency, including light bulbs.
But Big Oil and lobbyists for the pollution industry have blocked a national Renewable Electricity Standard, home appliance efficiency measures and climate legislation.