While thousands of residents of New York City have been waking up without electricity on Monday morning and severe thunderstorms have caused major flooding in the Northeast, is the US prepared for natural disasters caused by climate change? Should we deny climate change when we see the natural impacts for industries’ benefits and our own?
With another intense summer heat period, thousands of New Yorkers use air conditioning to cool down. Can they be blamed for it? Not really, but this choice has direct impacts on their daily lives such as the most recent blackout. One week after the previous massive blackout that left New York City in the dark, the story repeats itself again.
According to Con Edison, about half of the 33,000 customers in Brooklyn finally regained their electric power on Monday. Many spent Sunday without power, and on Monday morning residents were seeing their power be restored while others would have to wait until the afternoon. With the heat affecting the most vulnerable, it is important to stay hydrated and cool, however, some choices come to the expense of long-term viability such as climate change and the noticeable natural disasters.
But was the blackout a natural disaster? Or better yet caused by us? New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo was upset at the electric company on Sunday and asked for the state police, generators and light towers to be deployed and to assist. ”We have been through this situation with Con Ed time and again, and they should have been prepared-period. This was not a natural disaster, there is no excuse for what has happened in Brooklyn.” While Cuomo already ordered for an investigation to be made for the blackout that happened in Manhattan early July, he expressed the possibility to include the Brooklyn outrage.
Mayor Bill de Blasio also blasted the electricity company saying that ”this should not have happened” and to make sure the situation does not repeat itself again. The company explained that due to the intense heat and the use of air conditioners for one, they had decided to temporarily turn off the power on Sunday night for repairs so as to prevent a larger blackout like the one that happened in Manhattan.
Despite criticisms, they stood firmly by their decision explaining that: ”The actions we took were necessary to prevent longer outrages to the impacted customers that would have occurred as a result of additional equipment damage”.
In fact, the blackout itself was terrible for the environment. It represented important amounts of food being thrown out and air conditioners having to do twice the work and draw more power to get up to its initial speed.
To add to the situation, due to important thunderstorms, some areas in New York City were slammed with flooding. One resident of Brooklyn described the situation saying that ”the water was at my waist or almost at my waist”. After a series of storms hit New York’s Long Island and New Jersey, thousands of people were left in the dark.
Following the strong heat wave that passed the country last week, outages and floods took place. Just how much are the United States prepared to face natural disasters and climate changes who are not intensifying during the summer periods? In the south of New York City, in Monmouth County, more than 123,000 residents and nearly 60,000 residents from Ocean city were affected by the heavy storms. Given the extent of the situation and the damages caused, the Board of Public Utilities requested mutual assistance in assessing and restoring efforts which could take up to days with debris, downed trees and power grid damaged.
The chance for more thunderstorms to hit the state of New York City is still high given the summer heat. Beyond repairing things as they go, perhaps a more important question should be addressed: should climate change be denied so as to benefit the economy and American industries, as Donald Trumps want, or prevent further natural disasters caused by us by investing in a more sustainable future?