Mayor Bloomberg Picks a President

Barack Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (left) spoke in 2008 before paying respects at the site of the former twin towers in New York Photograph by Shannon Stapleton/EPA

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg—founder of this company, owner of this website, noted skeptic of both presidential candidates—has endorsed Barack Obama in the presidential race. As a reporter who’s been covering the race, I consider this a mild surprise. (As a Bloomberg staffer, I also considered it a mild surprise. I didn’t get any advance warning because editorial operations are strictly separate from the views of the owner.) But in op-ed announcing the endorsement, Bloomberg makes perfectly clear that what prompted him to act is climate change:

The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast—in lost lives, lost homes and lost business—brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.

The floods and fires that swept through our city left a path of destruction that will require years of recovery and rebuilding work. And in the short term, our subway system remains partially shut down, and many city residents and businesses still have no power. In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods—something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable.

Our climate is changing. 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 might be—given this week’s devastation—should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.

Anyone who cares about climate change—and judging from the overwhelming response to Bloomberg Businessweek‘s new cover story on the subject, many people do—has little choice but to vote Democratic, since the Republican Party has essentially decided that global warming is a liberal hoax. Still, it’s not a happy choice to make, since even Barack Obama, who believes in the science and has taken action as president to address the problem, has barely seen fit to mention climate change since the demise of his cap-and-trade bill to limit carbon emissions. As Bloomberg’s statement says:

We need leadership from the White House—and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.

Bloomberg goes on to lay out further reasons why he will vote for Obama, including marriage equality and a woman’s right to make her own choices about abortion. He also makes clear where he thinks Obama has come up short. All in all, I suspect many independent voters, disillusioned Democrats, and moderate Republicans will agree with his reasoning and his ambivalence—and probably his choice of president, too.

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