• Art Jahnke

    Senior Contributing Editor

    Art Janke

    Art Jahnke began his career at the Real Paper, a Boston area alternative weekly. He has worked as a writer and editor at Boston Magazine, web editorial director at CXO Media, and executive editor in Marketing & Communications at Boston University, where his work was honored with many awards. Profile

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There are 7 comments on Lessons from Hurricane Sandy

  1. Don’t you think it’s counterproductive to your cause to suggest that the “elephant in the room” is the use of the shoreline. Instead, I would think you’d be discussing how accelerating climate change (which seems the more likely pachyderm — albeit a pachyderm that Mayor Bloomberg’s recent high profile statments may help to “out”), makes your concerns that much more pressing.

  2. There are winds gusting over 50 mph tonight into tomorrow. Is it really safe to have school tomorrow? One of my friends almost slipped when walking outside in the snow. Please take into account the inclement weather.

  3. I think the questioning/response about climate change in this Q&A both hits and misses the mark all at the same time.

    First off, nothing I’ve read in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, or in general, that involves actual scientists and experts suggests that these storms are “caused” solely by global warming/climate change. I don’t think any sane scientist/expert would argue such a thing. What is said, and can be/is scientifically proven, is that global warming is a contributing factor to the increasing frequency, severity, and impact of these storms.

    For example, due to global warming, seas along the Atlantic coast and in the Northeast are rising at a rate 3-to-4 times the global rate, which results in more flooding and damaging storms.

    Clark is right in that the conversation about what we are going to do about this needs to be happening in terms of property exposure. On the other hand, it is counterproductive to not recognize that global warming is contributing to increased frequency and impact of these disasters, and that said frequency/impact will just keep increasing. The conversation about what we are doing about that needs to be happening. Now.


    1. I agree that a conversation on climate change is relevant, but I think the point Clark is trying to make is that we have much more immediate control over where properties are built and we are currently not talking about that much. I live in NYC and already people are discussing the rebuilding efforts in the same places that are obviously vulnerable.

      1. OT hit the nail on the head. Of course, we need to be addressing climate change and that conversation is happening. I’ve been interviewed over a dozen times since Sandy and I’ve been asked about climate change in every interview. I have not been asked even once about how we can mitigate destruction of property, human suffering, and even loss of life through better land use planning and building codes. While we cannot quantify how much climate change is increasing property losses from tropical storms, studies have shown that well designed and enforced building codes can reduce damages by over 50 percent. There is the related issue of providing insurance at subsidized prices that do not reflect the true cost of risk and thereby encouraging people to build in flood zones and other vulnerable areas.

        These are known issues that have been around long before the climate change debate. The potential property losses from severe storms have doubled every ten years for the past several decades purely due to demographic factors. This is far more than any increase we’ve seen or probably will see from climate change. So where are the headlines and the politicians proclaiming that recent storms are proof we need to address these issues now?

        You don’t see this because these issues require politicians to make tough decisions that may not be popular at a local level. My main point is it’s much easier to blame it on climate change which requires collective global action than taking the specific actions that would make a big difference now.

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