The combination of stronger storms and rising seas from a warming planet have the potential to wreak havoc on America’s coastlines, President Obama said recently during his visit to the National Hurricane Center in Florida.
Obama received the annual briefing on hurricane preparedness from federal science agencies ahead of hurricane season, and stressed the importance of preparing the country’s infrastructure for the impacts of climate change.
“The best climate scientists in the world are telling us that extreme weather events like hurricanes are likely to become more powerful,” Obama said. “When you combine stronger storms with rising seas, that’s a recipe for more devastating floods.”
“Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it might have made it stronger,” he added, pointing to the 2012 storm that caused more than $68 billion in damage and was tied to 233 deaths on the East Coast.
Global warming increasingly is a centerpiece of Mr. Obama’s agenda during his final two years in office. Despite strong pushback from lawmakers of both parties — and serious legal challenges to many of his specific actions — the president has made clear his focus on climate change will only grow stronger over the next 20 months.
“The best climate scientists in the world are telling us that extreme weather events like hurricanes are likely to become more powerful. When you combine stronger storms with rising seas, that’s a recipe for more devastating floods,” he said.
“Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it might have made it stronger. The fact that the sea level in New York Harbor is about a foot higher than a century ago certainly made the storm surge worse. And that’s why we are seeking to work with Congress to make sure that we are focused on resilience and the steps we can take to fortify our infrastructure in these communities.”
During a question-and-answer session on Twitter, Mr. Obama also called on teachers to weave climate change into science and social studies classes, arguing that children “instinctively” care about environmental issues.
The president’s domestic climate-change push is one piece of what the White House sees as a broader international fight to save earth from the consequences of a warming planet.
After the briefing, Obama took to his @POTUS Twitter account to field questions from the public about climate change. In response to a question about dealing with climate change deniers in Congress, Obama said the public should put pressure on them to act.