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Sat Dec 22, 2012, 11:01 AM

Ice, Sandy, Drought, Heartland Institute - The Guardian's Year In Review In Environmental News

Superstorm Sandy

The storm on 29 October killed more than 125 people after making landfall in America, paralysing the lower half of Manhattan, and obliterating entire neighbourhoods in New York and New Jersey. Sandy killed more than 70 on its path through the Caribbean.

The storm exposed America's weakness in the face of extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change. Vital infrastructure was at risk of sea-level rise and storm surge. Its electrical grid was dangerously aging.

The storm may have also reset the politics of climate change. Sandy's brute force, in the form of a 13ft storm surge over Battery Park that shut down New York's stock exchange and subway system for days, forced climate change on to the political agenda after months of public silence. In Far Rockaway alone, hundreds of homes remained without heat, power, or light into mid-December, and were growing encrusted with mould.

The spectacle of New Yorkers living in the dark and queueing for petrol was the backdrop of the 6 November elections. New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg drove the point home, when he endorsed Barack Obama specifically for his early efforts on climate change. The storm and Bloomberg's endorsement raised expectations that Obama will use his second term to address climate change. The storm's aftermath is already a political fixture.



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