Christie Deflects on Climate Change, Scientists Weigh In

Friday, May 24, 2013 - 04:00 AM


You might have heard Governor Chris Christie this week take issue with a question we posed about preparing for climate change. It was a follow up to our report that New Jersey Transit failed to prepare for increasing severe weather, and parked hundreds of its trains in a flood plain.

We didn’t say Sandy was caused by climate change.

Our question:

"WNYC has documented several mistakes New Jersey Transit made getting ready for Sandy, and severe storms caused by climate change. Do you feel you did enough to prepare state agencies for climate change?"

Christie's response:

“Well first of all I disagree 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. 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.”

Here is one reaction to Christie’s response from the comments online:

Frank wrote: “The fact is he cost NJ millions of dollars with bad decisions on transit preparation. No 'liberal media' deflection attempt will change that.”

Climate scientists agree there’s no way to associate any one storm or heat wave to a single cause, like climate change.

“But we do know that sea level rise is increasing the impacts of those storms,” says Anthony Broccoli, a Professor of Atmospheric Science at Rutgers University. “So in that sense climate change contributed to the impacts of Sandy. We can say that for sure.”

And he says there is a consensus among climate scientists that state agencies should prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Over the Years: Christie’s Stance on Climate Change

Back in 2010, at a Town Hall in Toms River, Governor Christie said he was skeptical climate change is the result of human activity.

Then in 2011 he met with scientists for a lesson in global warming and came out saying it was time to defer to the experts. He said "climate change is real” and that "human activity plays a role in these changes.”

The same year, he split from New Jersey’s neighbors by pulling out of the in Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative – It’s an agreement between nine states from Maine to Maryland to reduce emissions.

There are 19 states with laws on the books to adapt to climate change, according to Vicki Arroyo with the Georgetown Climate Center.

In Alaska, back when Sarah Palin was Governor, she had a climate adaptation take force. When Arnold Schwarzenegger was Governor of California he launched an executive order.

“And then some states, like New Jersey, I would say it’s more of a bottom-up process,” Arroyo says.

In New Jersey there’s a coalition, called the Climate Adaptation Alliance, made up of climate scientists, environmental groups and state utility chiefs who meet to discuss how climate change will affect the future.

“While it would be obviously nice to have the support of the Governor,” Arroyo said, “these bottom-up processes can actually lead to some good results.”


Comments [8]

Carol Hoernlein from NJ

As a stormwater engineer who now has to design new construction in a Climate Change world, I find comments touting the use of fracked gas ill informed and costly. Methane is a far more damaging greenhouse gas than CO2 (according to NASA) that is released during gas and oil drilling and is increasing rapidly in the atmosphere. To say the fracking is helping the situation is a dangerous and ridiculous assertion that avoids the very real fact that natural gas itself is a FOSSIL FUEL.. Even PSEG wants to get using solar as much as possible, because it is the right thing to do. Fracking is the wrong direction. Completely. I now have to design for more stormwater and a foot higher floodwaters. I shudder to think of world where natural gas fracking and the methane it releases hastens climate change even more. We can't design for that.....

May. 24 2013 08:03 PM
David from Fairfield CT

This guy/governor is both clueless and classless. Why would anyone want him to be president? Imagine this type of person representing the United States on the world stage. I'm embarrassed already.

May. 24 2013 11:52 AM
Chris from New York

FACT - Average global temperatures have not increased over the past 15 years, despite rising carbon emissions.

FACT - The United States is the ONLY country on the path to meeting its Kyoto protocol targets largely because natural gas fired electricity, enabled by hydraulic fracturing, has displaced coal electricity. Also, vehicle efficiency standards (higher MPG) have reduced gasoline demand.

The cap and trade system in Europe, which is the model for RGGI, has failed. This system is designed by the political/legal/financial elite and stands to benefit lawyers and bankers more than the climate.

May. 24 2013 10:08 AM

I like where Bill Wolfe is going w this.

May. 24 2013 10:04 AM

You are missing a couple of key points (as is Christie).

1. The debate relating to climate change is not whether it's changing but why. Are polluters in the hot seat or not? That is the question Christie is sidestepping.

2. By definition, a conservative ought to hold back and wait until he is sure that something is safe before acting. Rebuilding the beaches after Sandy is the equivalent to stating baldly that Sandy was a one-off storm and climate change is a figment of the "overeducated liberal's" imagination.

And when the Winds and Waters come for Christie and the Blowhards, do not expect them to eat humble pie... Nah.. that will be "God telling him that their time has come."

May. 24 2013 10:02 AM
Bill Wolfe from Bordentown, NJ

I'm glad you are doing followup, but you are inadvertently re-engaging the wrong the debate.

THe power of your NJ Transit investigation was how you illustrated failures in policy and planning had very specific impacts.

But, instead of staying on that line and looking at other state agencies under CHristie;s administration, you are shifting from policy and planning to the debate on climate change and extreme weather.

You need to return to investigation and accountability for policy - RGGI is just the tip of the iceberg of what Christie Administration, especially the DEP, has failed to do.

I've posted links t all the major documents - water supply, sewer plants, coastal adaptation, et al

May. 24 2013 09:16 AM

Al bore: The only debate about climate change is between the voices in your head. There is no debate among climate scientists. They agree virtually unanimously, that climate change is real and will lead to a climate crisis. The only unknown is the intensity of the crisis, and that depends on whether or not we significantly reduce our carbon fuel use.

Unfortunately, neither inventing your own reality nor mocking Al Gore will do much to mitigate the crisis.

May. 24 2013 09:15 AM
Al Bore from Toronto

The scientists could end 28 years of climate change debate instantly just by saying their catastrophic climate crisis is as certain as they like to say comet hits are inevitable.
They only agreed; “climate change it is real and is happening” and only “could” be a climate crisis. They have never agreed it WILL be a climate crisis.
It's as if you people wanted this misery for our children. How sick!

May. 24 2013 08:00 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.