President Obama said Thursday the link between more extreme weather and climate change is undeniable, and that the world’s best scientists have made a conclusive connection.
Rising sea levels are another consequence of climate change and can make extreme weather even worse, he said at the National Hurricane Center following a tour.
“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.
Obama’s remarks came during a visit to the center, whose meteorologists are predicting a “below-normal” Atlantic Ocean hurricane season, with three to six storms likely.
The president cited 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, which caused billions of dollars of damage in the New York City area, as an example.
“Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Sandy, but it might have made it stronger,” he said. “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.”
Later, Obama held an unannounced question-and-answer session on hurricanes, climate change and similar issues. He used the opportunity to promote and defend his record on climate.
On the connection between climate and security, a link he has highlighted in recent months, he said, “More severe weather events lead to displacement, scarcity, stressed populations; all increase likelihood of global conflict.”
Obama said increasing the use of renewable energy through research and development, and regulatory incentives is a “key” to moving toward clean energy, and that, while last year’s climate agreement with China is “big,” he and Chinese leaders will work with Brazil to encourage a strong plan to cut carbon there.
The president also defended his decision to allow Royal Dutch Shell to drill for oil and natural gas in the Arctic Ocean.
He said he blocked drilling in sensitive areas like Bristol Bay, but since he can’t completely prevent drilling in the Arctic, “we're setting the highest possible standards.”