NYC Mayor Bloomberg Endorses Obama, Cites Sandy and Climate Change as Deciding Factors

Is hurricane Sandy shifting the winds on climate change and politics?

This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

The internet was aflutter the last few days after news that New Jersey's Republican governor Chris Christie had said nice things about Obama. Specifically, "I have to say, the administration, the president, himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far," Christie said

In our hyper-partisan world, this was headline news. But today brought more kind words for Obama from an unexpected source -- New York City's mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The New York Times reported:

Mr. Bloomberg, a political independent in his third term leading New York City, has been sharply critical of both Mr. Obama, a Democrat, and Mitt Romney, the president's Republican rival, saying that both men have failed to candidly confront the problems afflicting the nation. But he said he had decided over the past several days that Mr. Obama was the best candidate to tackle the global climate change that the mayor believes contributed to the violent storm, which took the lives of at least 38 New Yorkers and caused billions of dollars in damage.

What's significant about this is not just that Bloomberg isn't a Democrat and hasn't historically been in Obama's side of the ring -- but that Bloomberg's endorsement goes beyond just the Obama's administration's disaster response. (After all, following Hurricane Katrina, our bar might be set a little too low for what a president and FEMA should accomplish.) The resounding significance of this is that Bloomberg said the two words that most elected officials have been unwilling to utter: climate change. 

Author and 350.org founder Bill McKibben who's been shouting about climate change from the rooftops for years (and writing about it for decades), responded by saying, "New York's tragedy may be the planet's gain--it's finally dawned on the media and political elite that global warming is not a debating point but a very real crisis."

New York's Governor Cuomo got the message, saying yesterday: 

"It's a longer conversation, but 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."

This is a big departure -- the sounds of silence during the election season when it came to climate change were deafening. Passed over in the debates, passed over in the mainstream media. Until superstorm Sandy. As the Times explains of Bloomberg's epiphany:

"Our climate is changing," he wrote. "And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be -- given the devastation it is wreaking -- should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action."

Maybe this is a classic example of too little, too late (especially considering we've known New York has be a disaster-in-waiting for years). Maybe once the mess is cleaned up and the trains are running and the electricity is on again, we'll all go back to business-as-usual and pretend no one ever mentioned climate change. Or maybe Hurricane Sandy washed away some our shared complacency and political incompetence. If not, at least we'll have this momento from Bloomberg Businessweek as a keepsake:


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Tara Lohan is a freelance writer and former senior editor at AlterNet. She is the editor of two books on the global water crisis, including Water Matters: Why We Need to Act Now to Save Our Most Critical Resource. Follow her on Twitter @TaraLohan.