Al Gore calls Sandy a ‘disturbing sign of things to come,’ urges climate action

Al Gore said Tuesday that Hurricane Sandy is a “disturbing sign of things to come” in a warming world and should prompt action to curb greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels.

“We must heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis. Dirty energy makes dirty weather,” the former vice president said in a statement on his website.

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Gore cited Sandy, which slammed ashore late Monday, and smaller-scale flooding in his hometown of Nashville two years ago, noting “both storms were strengthened by the climate crisis.”

“Scientists tell us that by continually dumping 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere every single day, we are altering the environment in which all storms develop. As the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, storms are becoming more energetic and powerful,” he said.

Gore also said that as Sandy approached the East Coast, it drew power from abnormally warm coastal waters and that the storm surge was worsened by sea-level rise.

“Scientists tell us that if we do not reduce our emissions, these problems will only grow worse,” he said.

Environmentalists and a number of scientists, as Sandy menaced the East Coast, have highlighted the nexus between global warming and extreme weather such as heat waves, droughts and powerful storms. (E2-Wire has more on that here.)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) also sees the hand of climate change in Sandy, a storm that caused widespread flooding, power outages and a number of deaths in the Empire State.

“Anyone who says there's not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality,” Cuomo said at a press conference Tuesday.

Cuomo said officials must take into account the new reality of “extreme weather patterns,” and that he recently told President Obama “we have a 100-year flood every two years now.”

“There is no weather pattern that could shock me at this point,” he said.

Cuomo said in the late-morning press conference that 15 people in the state had been killed in the “catastrophic” storm, and predicted the tally would rise. 

Nearly two million customers are without power in New York state, according to an Energy Department report Tuesday morning, including what Cuomo said were 90 percent of residents on Long Island.

The storm created major flooding in New York City, where the stormwater poured into the subway system, shutting it down. “The damage to the tracks, tunnels that are under water, is unlike this city has seen in decades, if ever,” Cuomo said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg said parts of the subway system would be out for days at least, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Russell Berman contributed.