But in the days that followed Sandy, it become obvious that a change will be a slow one at best.
For instance, in the aftermath Governor Andrew Cuomo said that this storm is proof that a long-term solution is necessary. “It's a longer conversation,” he said, “but I think part of learning from this is the recognition that climate change is a reality.”
While he may have been aware of the lesson, the message seems to have escaped him. Less than a week after the storm, the governor took steps responding to a gas shortage in the city that was causing panic among residents. He relaxed a number of restrictions to make it easier to drive our polluting automobiles, even inviting the federal government to give away gas for free.
The governor isn't the only one to blame, however. It would seem that New Yorkers have a memory that lasts less than a week, too. As they wait on long lines for gas and send emissions into the atmosphere, idling for hours, they seem to forget that they are helping exacerbate the problem.
Climate change legislation doesn't need to be a long conversation. The people of New York need to be told that they need to change or the destruction that Hurricane Sandy caused will be a more common occurrence.
But when panic sets in at the notion of making due without our automobiles for a few days, it's easy to see that change is not going to come easy. In fact, people getting into fist fights over fuel even diverted our first responders away from helping people who actually need it, in order to guard gas stations as if gold were being distributed.
One of the events that proceeds a new hurricane, along with preparing for it, is naming it. The name of the next catastrophic storm that hits New York City should be dubbed Hurricane Irony, in honor of everyone waiting on line.
While people can't be expected to change their habits overnight, the panic over fuel that followed the hurricane makes it obvious that this is, in fact, going to be a long, long conversation.