Photo Credit: STAN HONDA, GETTY IMAGES
Whether or not the candidates were interested in taking up the issue of climate change this election cycle, the matter has been decided for them.
This week, Superstorm Sandy throttled the East Coast, where dozens lost their lives and broad swaths of communities are still without power or basic conveniences. It was a storm so massive that the resulting media coverage could have been mistaken for disaster-movie footage. And that's the kind of real-life drama Americans just can't ignore.
On Thursday, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed Barack Obama for president in a surprise move he says was motivated by the storm and by the importance of taking action on climate change.
“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast -- in lost lives, lost homes and lost business -- brought the stakes of next Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,” the political independent wrote in an op-ed on Bloomberg View, one of the media properties he owns. “Our climate is changing. … We need leadership from the White House.” He said Obama has taken steps in the right direction.
The billionaire mayor plays by his own rules politically, and previously said he would endorse neither candidate. He's criticized both.
(Just for fun, we note this sideshow: After Bloomberg broke the news, Fox News ran with the headline "Bloomberg Backs Romney" on its homepage. It linked to the correct content about the Obama endorsement. A bit of wishful thinking, perhaps.)
Adding to the parade of politicians publicly discussing climate change this week was New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who said Tuesday, “Anyone who says there is not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality.” And on Wednesday New York Senator Charles Schumer added, “We’re going to pay a price for the change in climate," as quoted in the New York Times.
In this election cycle, climate change was an issue neither candidate took up with overwhelming vigor. While an endorsement by a rich mayor of a big, left-leaning, northeastern city may be unlikely to sway many votes, it certainly serves to bring the issue of climate change back into the discussion only days before the election -- just as did Sandy itself, as it wrought such devastation.
Alesandra Dubin is a Los Angeles-based writer and iVillage's Chief Election News Blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @alicedubin.