Christie: No Proof Climate Change Caused Sandy

Monday, May 20, 2013 - 02:34 PM


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie today rejected the idea that state agencies like New Jersey Transit needed to prepare for climate change ahead of Sandy.

“‘Cause I don’t think there’s been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change,” he said.

At a ceremony in Lavallette, NJ, to preside over the final nail being hammered into the boardwalk, post-Sandy, WNYC/New Jersey Public Radio asked Christie about our reporting showing New Jersey Transit made multiple errors getting ready for Sandy and severe storms brought on by climate change. Had Christie done enough to prepare state agencies for climate change?

"Well, first of all, I don’t agree with the premise of your question because I don’t think there’s been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change," Christie said, as residents and officials from Lavallette clapped. "But I would absolutely expect that that’s exactly what WNYC would say, because you know liberal public radio always has an agenda. And so since I disagree with the premise of your question I don’t feel like I have to answer the rest of it.” (You can hear the full audio at the bottom of this post.)

After Sandy, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo came to a different conclusion. Two days after the storm, Cuomo said: "I think part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality, extreme weather is a reality, it is a reality that we are vulnerable."

The federal government has warned transit agencies that severe hurricanes, increased precipitation, drought, and hotter days are effects of climate change, and has advised that "climate change impacts are here and will increase in the future."

New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been creating plans to respond to climate change and severe storms since 2007. Only 19 of their 8,000 rail cars were flooded during Sandy. Meanwhile, hundreds of NJ Transit’s rail cars were engulfed after being parked in areas recently declared vulnerable to flooding.

Our reporting found that the MTA had developed detailed hurricane plans. 

By contrast, NJ Transit's plans were three-and-a-half pages.

Listen to Christie's full response here:

Listen to the full investigation on How New Jersey Transit Failed Sandy's Test here




Comments [22]

T Soprano from Alpine NJ

Christie is no leftwing looney puppet and calls it like he sees it. He they saw snow flurrys in the berkshires over memorial day weekend. Global warming, I think not.

May. 28 2013 12:55 PM
Russ Weiss from West Windsor, NJ

As is his wont Gov. Christie let his proclivity for knee jerk bluster get the better of a reasoned response. Granted there is no evidence that climate change caused Hurricane Sandy--and mainstream climate scientists do not claim that there is. On the other hand, the rise in sea level along the Jersey coast that is caused by climate change magnified the damage wreaked by Superstorm Sandy. So your reporter's question was a reasonable one and the governor's retort and accusation empty bluster.

May. 26 2013 02:25 PM

make that

May. 24 2013 10:08 PM

Bill maybe you can pitch a show idea to this program or one of the npr-based stations in our area?

will check out

May. 24 2013 10:07 PM

Christie's response is just typical red meat for the base nonsense.
How exactly is it part of a "liberal agenda" to ask about climate change when Christie himself has acknowledged the increasing frequency of such powerful storms?
"I'm never gonna use the phrase hundred-year storm again," New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said in a press conference yesterday, "because we've had three of those, three hundred-year storms, in the past three years."
I was very impressed with the Governor's response to the storm. He put his bullying behavior on hold and showed genuine concern for the citizens of his state. But his return to form and his response to this question was just ridiculous and sadly very typical of his party.

May. 22 2013 02:22 PM
Eric F

Well hopefully the climate change can be stopped by moving us all into tiny apartments and making us all ride trains. Then there will never be a hurricane again.

May. 22 2013 11:29 AM
Carol F. Nelson

But is there any proof it WASN'T climate change that caused the superstorm?

May. 22 2013 08:22 AM
Julie Goldberg from Rockland County

Insurance companies are neither liberal nor conservative. They evaluate risk and act accordingly. They and other corporations whose well-being could be affected by changes in weather and environment aren't sitting around debating. They are preparing.

Regardless of whether climate change comes from human activity, the wrath of God, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it is indisputably real. Christie knows this, too. He's just playing to the crowd.

May. 21 2013 10:09 PM
David Karasek from Maple Shadeless, NJ

50% of NJs carbon footprint is Transportation. Even if you've never bothered to review the science, pure logic dictates that the possibility outweighs the uncertainty.

May. 21 2013 09:11 PM

He knows he is answerable to the people right? It's why Christie will never be president. Glass jaw. The fact is he cost NJ millions of dollars with bad decisions on transit preparation. No 'liberal media' deflection attempt will change that. My suggestion to the helpless NJ Democrats: take the Bengazi playbook from Darrell Issa - scratch out the word Bengazi and slot in NJ Transit - and proceed as scripted. NJ just wasn't prepared, and that's what should be investigation. What did Chris Christie know about NJ Transit plans, and when? I demand hearings!

May. 21 2013 08:59 PM
Bill Wolfe from Bordentown, NJ

This comment is in response to "scrumto" below.

The Gov. response - not necessarily the reporter's question - created the straw man about whether climate change "caused" Sandy.

You mistakenly assume he was correct in crafting and readily dismissing that straw man.

You do not know - from the audio - what the question posed to the Gov. actually was.

The news report says the Gov. was asked whether State agencies should develop plans to prepare for climate change. That does imply ANYTHING about whether Sandy was "caused by climate change" (the Gov. straw man that you swallow).

For a purported scientist, your analysis is remarkably devoid of facts and in conflict with the available facts.

The issue is about lack of NJ State PREPARATION, not causality.

May. 21 2013 04:14 PM

"I don’t think there’s been any proof thus far that Sandy was caused by climate change," Christie said, as residents and officials from Lavallette clapped."

^^Those residents from Lavallette won't be cheering once insurance stops paying their storm damage claims if another storm like Sandy happens again. I have a good feeling that these folks will start believing in climate change once taxpayers stop footing the bill for storm destruction.

May. 21 2013 03:15 PM
RBC from NYC

@scrumpto: Chris Christie actually provided a good answer to the question, until he had to add the GOP's usual "liberal media conspiracy" statement.

May. 21 2013 03:04 PM
Jan from NJ

In 1989 Republican Governor Tom Kean issued an Executive Order regarding preparations for an increase in the intensity of extreme and major storms. Governor Christie's answer was irresponsible and ignorant regarding a crisis taking place globally right now that is effecting millions of people. It is well established that there were absolute mitigating circumstances that led to Hurricane Sandy's violence and destruction. Sea level rise; warmer ocean temperatures; and two competing fronts trapped by a jet stream effected by record breaking Arctic sea ice loss. The amount of sea ice loss of the Arctic that broke all records last year has added an immense amount of energy to the atmosphere. This also combined with record breaking melting in Greenland formed what has been called an "atmospheric bomb." How someone who is a public servant knowing full well of the events taking place can simply dismiss this based on partisan politics is very disappointing. I suggest Governor Christie read up on the real science behind this which was just recently corroborated in peer reviewed scientific literature instead of relegating it to partisan political sound bites.

May. 21 2013 02:37 PM

This stinks. I am a WNYC supporter, and a scientist, and a NJ resident. This adds fuel to the 'gotcha liberal media' stereotype. Why ask such a loaded question? No scientist would ever say 'yes a particular storm was caused by climate change', this is just wrong to ask a politician to make a statment like that. You lost all credibility with me. You got the answer you wanted and now its big whoop. Congratulations. I can only defend Christie here, and fault NYC for being short sighted, you got the quote, but you damaged a lot of credibility and legitmate concern for climate change and made yourselves look really bad. Think I'll listen to a CD on the way home tonight, you lost me.

May. 21 2013 12:37 PM
clive betters

so, let's err on the side of possibly being wrong about climate change, governor christie;and your being right. if you are right,then maybe we'll still be here,with many cancers,illnesses,and ugly political entanglements,inevitably leading to wars so as to be able to secure the crude. the pollution that is part of all this,does not just affect the climate,it affects our bodies, and that of our children. if however, we are right,we face obliteration. it seems to me,like this is russian roulette with a single bullet and two chambers. nice odds for a kamikaze perhaps,but not for the viability of humanity.

May. 21 2013 11:57 AM

As there NEVER can be proof that any single event is/was caused by any other single phenomena.

What is undeniable is the increase in frequency and severity of weather events and what steps that prudent managers of the commonweal are taking/will take in order to protect public assets.

As far as that goes, NJ's storm preparedness planning gets an 'F'.

Regardless of their position on climate change, who makes the more plausible manager for such extreme weather events? The candidate who does not agree that climate change has caused a single event or the manager who sees the trend and agrees that better management and planning will save lives and assets in the future.

The path of reducing our CO2 output and thus 'healing the earth' left the station about fifteen years ago.

May. 21 2013 11:37 AM
Bill Wolfe from Bordentown, NJ

Sarah - you need to expand your focus from NJ Transit as the only state agency that should be planning and preparing for climate change.

I've posted multiple links to federal and state laws that authorize the NJ DEP to do climate work - especially coastal vulnerability assessment and emergency planning for water infrastructure "resilience".

DEP itself has conducted vulnerability assessment work and hard a guidance document for coastal twos - al that is being ignored by NJ media and policymakers.

Give me a call and I can explain all this in great detail.

I've been writing in detail on this stuff for months, with supporting links to state agency documents, regulations, etc.

May. 21 2013 10:46 AM

The quote in its entirety makes Christie sound like a buffoon.

May. 21 2013 10:46 AM
Bill Wolfe from Bordentown, NJ

First of all, thank you WNYC for reporting the elephant in the room that the NJ and national press corps will not report.

Gov. Christie dismissed a straw man argument. No one argues that climate change "caused" Sandy.

Climate change made Sandy worse for at least three reasons: 1) sea level rise; 2) warmer ocean waters put more energy in Sandy; and 3) some scientists say that polar and sea ice melting had an impact on the left turn the storm took to landfall.

But far more significantly is that Gov. Christie denied the need to PLAN AND REPARE for climate change!

That is shockingly irresponsible.

Christie confirmed exactly what I have written about for months.

For anyone interested in all that, let me engage in shameless blog promotion - go to and just word search christie, climate, adaptation, vulnerability assessment, et al

May. 21 2013 10:13 AM

an elephant and his jive talking points. let's just build titanium piers next time,right? ...what a joke..

May. 20 2013 09:14 PM

That's hilarious. Well, okay, two monstrous storms in two consecutive years. That defacto affects what the severity of a "100 year storm" is considered to be.

He can answer the question one way, giving credence to global warning, or not. Either way, though, what's the answer?

May. 20 2013 07:59 PM

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