[OPINION] Sandy Anniversary Is A Day Of Remembrance

by Jeff Tittel, director of the NJ Sierra Club

As we commemorate the one year anniversary of Sandy it is a day of remembrance for all those who died and suffered through the worst climate disaster is our nation’s history. Our prayers and helping hands go out to all the people still suffering. A year later far too many people are still homeless, far too many communities are still hurting, and there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done.

Unfortunately we are not rebuilding better and smarter, we are not making the state more resilient. Instead of fixing the mistakes of the past we are perpetuating them. We are not doing better planning or adapting to sea level rise or future climate change impacts. We are not implementing more renewable energy or updated building codes. The Governor pulled us out of RGGI and eliminated our Office of Climate Change.

We are not restoring natural systems like wetlands. There are still 27,000 people homeless and according to a recent poll 75% of people impacted by the storm feel they have been let down by the Christie administration. If you do not believe in climate change the state will not be rebuilt smarter or better. Photo ops are not enough, real changes are needed and a lot of work has to get done.

The fact that the state has dismantled its work on climate change and ended programs dealing with sea level rise and mitigation and adaptation, Christie’s banner ‘One Year Later: A Stronger New Jersey’ is right up there with Bush’s ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner. We are not stronger and we are not rebuilding smarter and better. It is hubris to think we are stronger than the storm. We do not deal with climate change and sea level rise in rebuilding we will put more people and property in harm’s way.

Since the Obama administration is calling for states to do work on climate change and rebuild in this fashion we could be jeopardizing federal funding. More severe weather events are becoming more common but We can still change the way we are doing things to ensure a better, smarter future.

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