Sandy: Climate Change?

(Reposted from Ursinus Grizzly)
Aside from 20 uprooted trees and some damaged roofs, campus was left relatively unscathed by Sandy. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a tropical storm that hit the Northeast coast of the United States last weekend, the discussion of climate change has reemerged to the forefront among concerned Americans.

Photo courtesy of Jillian Goldstein.

The issue is controversial, especially when related to Hurricane Sandy, because it cannot necessarily be proven that climate change helped to brew the storm. But regardless, the hurricane has many people talking.

David Hales, president of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, addressed the hurricane in a newsletter.

“Can we say that climate change caused Sandy, this specific storm at this place and time? Of course not. Yet, as weather extremes inevitably give arise to the question, ‘Is this climate change?’”

According to the ACUPCC, climate change is a real threat.

“Observed and documented changes are occurring faster than most past changes in the Earth’s climate,” the ACUPCC reported. “These changes are primarily the result of human activities; they cannot be explained without factoring in human activity.”

“As to whether climate change is caused by humans, my own personal response is that this is really not the most important question,” said Hales. “The better question is whether we can take actions now that will change the course we are on.”

Dr. Patrick Hurley, an environmental studies professor at Ursinus College, said, “Hurricane Sandy is an example of an event that is of great concern to people who think about climate change.”

“Eleven years after Hurricane Katrina, a year after Hurricane Irene, a few months after an historic drought in the Midwest, there are people pointing to these anomalous weather events and saying that either these things are linked to climate change, and we have to deal with it, or these are an indicator of the types of things we are likely to experience with climate change in the future,” Hurley said.

Hurley said that it is not entirely unheard of for storms of Sandy’s nature to occur in the northeast, but that “people are arguing that, at the very least, we need to have a conversation about climate change impacts and that we have to decide whether we should just live with the possibility of weather events like Sandy in the future, respond in a way that reduces their impacts when they occur, for example through new engineering or building standards, or to avoid them through committed and sustained efforts that reduce the potential for climate change to generate storms of this kind in the first place.”

Regardless of whether or not climate change is to blame for Hurricane Sandy’s occurrence, there are people  and organizations who advocate that it is important to be environmentally conscious. At Ursinus, UC Green is a program dedicated to those who wish to help Ursinus “go green” and make a difference on campus.

UC Green is run by the Office of Sustainability and allows students passionate about the environment to develop and carry out individual projects. Some of these projects include Bikeshare, Move-in and Move-out, Take Back the Tap, the organic farm and EcoReps.

Any student interested in becoming involved in UC Green can do so by participating in Ursinus College Environmental Action (UCEA), Recyclemania or by applying for positions within the Office of Sustainability. Upperclassman can also apply to become a UC Green Fellow at the end of spring semester to be hired for the fall.

More information on campus environmental initiatives can be found online at

Keith Miles
Reposted from the Ursinus Grizzly on November 8, 2012
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