Bloomberg was right, Sandy focuses the mind on climate change

But there are less dramatic examples that make a strong case too

Related Topics

You don't have to be religious to feel that our lives are being determined by the battle for supremacy between technology and nature. With the advances in medical science come the advent of new diseases. For each technological invention, there's a new disaster to remind us of humankind's fallibility. And when one of the most populous, commercially successful cities, in one of the most developed countries in the world, is laid low by a natural phenomenon of terrifying force, it makes you wonder who's getting the upper hand.

This is New York, remember, where they really thought they were masters of the universe. Extreme weather can make believers of us all and at the very least it can make us believe in climate change. I dare say there are many thousands of New Yorkers who made the same connection that Michael Bloomberg did in the wake of the storm that devastated parts of the city. The gist of the Mayor's analysis ran like this: I'm not saying climate change is a fact, but when you see Fifth Avenue under three feet of water, you know there's something weird going on. From this, he extrapolated an endorsement of Barack Obama, who at least is not an environmental refusenik like Mitt Romney, for tomorrow's Presidential election.

Good for Mr Bloomberg, you may say. Here's a man who is prepared to sacrifice Republican Party allegiance in favour of the greater good. Of course, it's relatively easy to focus people's attention on environmental degradation when they're feeling the effects of it. (I'm not saying there's a straightforward connection between Sandy and global warming, but it's not impossible, either.) So given that it takes a cataclysmic event close to home to turn sceptics into believers and to turn words into action, there may be a sea change, so to speak, in the political agenda. Up until Mayor Bloomberg's intervention, climate change was the unspoken issue in the Presidential race, based on the not unreasonable calculation that, when people are struggling to pay the bills, they're not that motivated by the melting of the polar ice caps.

Natural disasters may focus our minds, but every day, it seems, there are reports of a far less dramatic nature, but which should still make us sit up and take notice. The latest of these is the relatively insignificant disclosure that wine production across the globe will sink to its lowest level for almost 40 years. This is the result of severe weather on the grape harvest, left, but what is noteworthy is that this has not just afflicted a small geographical area, but extends as far apart as France and Argentina, or Hungary and New Zealand.

France, which produces 15 per cent of the world's wine and where the grape harvest was blighted by hailstorms, deluges and a heat wave, has been particularly hard hit, with production down by 20 per cent, and the inevitable consequence on wine prices.

No big deal compared with a hurricane, but the personal is the political, and as more and more people feel the effects of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, politicians will find the environment changing, in every sense.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash the two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in new political order

Michael Ashcroft
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before