Climate change 'new normal,' lessons from Sandy - UN chief

UNITED NATIONS Fri Nov 9, 2012 11:50pm IST

A man walks through piles of debris that have not been removed by the Department of Sanitation outside of homes damaged from flooding that inundated the area during hurricane Sandy in the Queens borough neighborhood of Belle Harbor, New York, November 8, 2012. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

A man walks through piles of debris that have not been removed by the Department of Sanitation outside of homes damaged from flooding that inundated the area during hurricane Sandy in the Queens borough neighborhood of Belle Harbor, New York, November 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Related Topics

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Extreme weather sparked by climate change is "the new normal" and Superstorm Sandy that ravaged the U.S. Northeast is a lesson the world must pursue more environmentally friendly policies, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday.

The United Nations headquarters closed for three days when former hurricane Sandy slammed the Northeast on October 29 as a rare hybrid superstorm, killing at least 121 people, swamping seaside towns and leaving millions without power.

"We all know the difficulties in attributing any single storm to climate change. But we also know this: extreme weather due to climate change is the new normal," Ban told the 193-member U.N. General Assembly.

"This may be an uncomfortable truth, but it is one we ignore at our peril. The world's best scientists have been sounding the alarm for many years," he said. "There can be no looking away, no persisting with business as usual ... This should be one of the main lessons of Hurricane Sandy."

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg endorsed President Barack Obama for a second term after Sandy struck, citing Obama's record on climate change and saying he believed the Democrat would adopt more policies to curb greenhouse gases in a second term. Obama won re-election on Tuesday.

The head of U.N. security, Gregory Starr, said last week that U.N. headquarters sustained severe damage when Sandy produced heavy flooding in basement levels of the world body's Manhattan complex along the East River. Flood damage forced the relocation of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Somalia last week from its normal chambers to a temporary building inside the U.N. campus.

U.N. delegations sharply criticized the United Nations' management on Monday for an almost "total breakdown in communications" with the world body's member states after superstorm Sandy struck.

"Our global services were provided without interruption," said Ban. "However, it is clear that in focusing so much on operations and infrastructure, we fell short when it came to communications."

"We learned that too many email addresses were out of date or otherwise incorrect," he said. "And in the broadest sense, we should have done more to update member states, staff alike and wider audience at large about the impact and implications of the storm."

Michael Adlerstein, who heads a $1.9 billion renovation of the United Nations due to be completed in 2013, has said Sandy would not delay the overhaul of the U.N. complex.

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Vicki Allen)

FILED UNDER:
Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Fighting the Islamic State

Students take part in a demonstration as one of them holds pictures of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (L) and founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini outside the former U.S. embassy in Tehran November 4, 2010. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi/Files

Iran supreme leader blames West for Islamic State rise, wants regional solution

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Western powers on Tuesday for the rise of Islamic State (IS) insurgents in Iraq and Syria and said they had no business tampering with the region's geopolitics.  Full Article 

REUTERS SHOWCASE

HK Protests

HK Protests

Hong Kong protesters plan march after fruitless talks with government.  Full Article 

Double Murder

Double Murder

Thailand tourist murder suspects retract confessions.  Full Article 

Rousseff in Lead

Rousseff in Lead

Brazil's Rousseff pulls ahead of Neves before Sunday's election - poll.  Full Article 

Indonesia Cabinet

Indonesia Cabinet

Indonesia president to make new cabinet picks after 8 rejected.  Full Article 

Fighting Ebola

Fighting Ebola

J&J aims for 1 million Ebola vaccine doses in 2015.  Full Article 

Baghdad Bombing

Baghdad Bombing

Baghdad restaurant bombs kill 21  Full Article 

Canada On Alert

Canada On Alert

Canada raises terrorism threat level, cites Islamist chatter.  Full Article 

Foreign Threat?

Foreign Threat?

Sweden gets two new sightings, as hunt for undersea intruder goes on.  Full Article 

Iran Nuclear Talks

Iran Nuclear Talks

Exclusive: Iran offers "compromises" in nuclear talks, West unmoved  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage