Much of the East Coast is shut down today as residents prepare for Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that could impact up to 50 million people from the Carolinas to Boston. The storm has already killed 66 people in the Caribbean where it battered Haiti and Cuba. “This thing is stitched together from elements natural and un-natural and it seems poised to cause real havoc,” says Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org. New York and other cities have shut down schools and transit systems. Hundreds of thousands of people have already been evacuated. Millions could lose power over the next day. Meteorologists say Sandy could be the largest storm ever to hit the U.S. mainland. The megastorm comes at a time when President Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have refused to make climate change an issue on the campaign trail. For the first time since 1984, climate change was never addressed during a presidential debate. “It’s really important that everybody, even those who aren’t in the path of this storm, reflect about what it means that in the warmest year in U.S. history … when we saw essentially summer sea ice in the Arctic just vanish before our eyes, what it means that we’re now seeing storms this unprecedented magnitude,” McKibben says. “If there was ever a wake-up call, this is it.” We’re also joined by climate scientist Greg Jones from Southern Oregon University.
Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is a rare, hybrid super storm created by an Arctic jet stream from the north wrapping itself around a tropical storm from the south. Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground, warns that such a “Frankenstorm,” as it is called, is an outgrowth of the extreme weather changes caused by global warming. “When you heat the oceans more, you extend the length of hurricane season,” Masters says. “There’s been ample evidence over the last decade or so that hurricane season is getting longer — it starts earlier, ends later. You’re more likely to get these sort of late October storms now, and you’re more likely to have this sort of situation where a late October storm meets up with a winter low pressure system and gives us this ridiculous combination of a nor’easter and hurricane that comes ashore, bringing all kinds of destruction.” We’re also joined by climate scientist Greg Jones from Southern Oregon University.