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Professor Robert Field Examines Climate Change, Federal Disaster Relief in Philadelphia Inquirer

November 05, 2012

In an Nov. 2 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Professor Robert Field argues that we have known about the potential for hurricane Sandy's devastating effects for at least 18 years yet have not been doing enough to recognize the importance of the federal government's role in a comprehensive approach to climate change. 

In his article, Field examines a 1994 claim by physicist James Trefil which predicted an emerging pattern of violent storms resulting from climate change that could yield widespread damage and flooding in coastal cities like New York.  With hurricane Sandy, Trefil's prediction became a reality, Field said. 

Field argues that storms like Sandy not only detrimentally affect a city's infrastructure but also impact the health care system. For example, two major New York hospitals were forced to evacuate patients due to power outages. However, little has been done to recognize the importance of a government role in disaster prevention. 

The federal government, through organizations like the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Department of Health and Human Services, is the only entity with the capacity to provide essential resources to the health care system in the event of a disaster, Field proposed.  Thus, federal disaster protection is a necessary element of a comprehensive approach to addressing the effects of climate change in years to come, Field concluded.