(Photo: Reuters/Tom Mihalek)
Officials at a U.N. meeting on climate change in Doha, Qatar have cited the support of scientists in claiming that devastating storms like Hurricane Sandy are not purely "coincidental" but actually affected by global warming.
America also had to defend itself against accusations that it has not been doing enough in the battle against global warming, and has failed to help poor nations that have been most affected by it.
The accusations stemmed from former President George W. Bushes' decision to drop the Kyoto Protocol, a 1997 treaty limiting emissions of heat-trapping gases by industrialized countries.
"Those who don't follow what the U.S. is doing may not be informed of the scale and extent of the effort, but it's enormous," said U.S. delegate Jonathan Pershing in response to the accusations.
He pointed out that the Obama administration has taken up a number of initiatives, including increasing fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks, and providing financial assistance for poor countries to equip them with technologies to combat climate change.
"It doesn't mean enough is being done," Pershing added. "It's clear the global community, and that includes us, has to do more if we are going to succeed at avoiding the damages projected in a warming world."
As the Northeastern coast of the U.S. continues recovering from October's devastating Hurricane Sandy, which killed hundreds of people in the Caribbean and U.S. and cost billions of dollars in property damage, some scientists on the U.N.'s climate panel have suggested that global warming most certainly played a role in the development of this natural disaster.
Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, the vice chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and U.N. climate panel's No. 2 scientist said that Sandy was "probably not a coincidence," and claimed this further evidence will show that climate change certainly plays a role in these storm formations.
"The new question should probably progressively become: 'Is it possible that climate warming has not influenced this particular event?'" he told The Associated Press in an interview on Tuesday.
Although global warming and climate change remain controversial issues in some circles, the AP notes that many climate scientists and hurricane experts have come to the conclusion that as global climates warm up, the number of hurricanes will decrease – but storms that do develop will be bigger and stronger, much like Sandy.
Princeton University climate scientist Michael Oppenheimer clarified that while it was not correct to say that global warming created Hurricane Sandy, "the damage caused by Sandy was worse because of sea level rise" – pointing out that the sea level in New York City, one of the hardest hit areas, was a foot higher than a century ago.
The U.N. conference is said to continue for another two weeks, with environmentalists hoping that this time around, the major players in the U.N will be able to reach the type of deals needed to address the pressing concerns surrounding climate change. Previous meetings have resulted in negotiators failing to agree on climate change treaties and postponing important decisions.