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Hurricane Sandy and Climate Change: Three Things to Know

Author: Michael A. Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment and Director of the Program on Energy Security and Climate Change, Council on Foreign Relations
November 5, 2012

Hurricane Sandy has rekindled a debate about the causes and consequences of climate change. Michael A. Levi, CFR's David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, highlights three lessons to be learned from Sandy's impact:

  • Reducing Vulnerability – "The hurricane and its devastating aftermath has reminded us that no matter how wealthy our society is and how developed we are, we are still vulnerable to dangerous extremes of weather," says Levi. The focus needs to be on reducing vulnerability and improving resilience to natural disasters "regardless of whether they are man-made or otherwise," he says.
  • Minimizing Risks – "Increased human emissions of greenhouse gases are leading to more risk of dangerous weather extremes," Levi says. Reducing this risk requires cutting U.S. and global greenhouse gas emissions, he says.
  • Increasing Global Cooperation – In Sandy's aftermath, "communities have gotten past traditional divides, and particularly partisan divides," Levi emphasizes. At the international level, the United States should similarly seize on opportunities to work collaboratively with other countries on climate change challenges, Levi says.

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