Newsom came to power focusing on other more pressing issues, like housing and employment, but fires have become an almost constant emergency for his administration. Likewise, it had to contend with progressive power outages as heat waves increased demand for energy, and it flirted with the issuance of statewide water restrictions then. that the West is facing one of the worst droughts of a generation.
Now, with an unsuccessful recall attempt behind it and pandemic mitigation, Newsom is squarely focused on climate change, Senior Climate Advisor Lauren Sanchez said on a recent call with reporters.
“He feels a real moral imperative around this issue right now,” Sanchez said. “To put it philosophically, he has four young children and has asked us all to handle this crisis as the emergency it is so that we can leave a liveable planet for our children.”
Newsom has also been forthright about the difficulty it has encountered in governing crisis after crisis. Asked by a reporter what goes through his mind when monitoring the destruction, Newsom said his personal reactions were increasingly intense.
“It’s not intellectual anymore,” he said, “it’s emotional.”
Jeff Schlegelmilch, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, said disasters put pressure on all levels of government. The pandemic, along with the extreme weather conditions, has raised questions about how the government can be in emergency response mode when there is still an emergency.
Schlegelmilch cited a 2009 study that found voters reward the incumbent presidential party for providing disaster relief – but not for investing in preparedness. This is despite the fact that a dollar spent on disaster preparedness was worth $ 15 in terms of damage avoided. The result? Local governments often wait for help rather than planning ahead.
“The FEMA disaster relief fund used to be like 911,” he said. “Now it’s become like 411 – it’s used a lot more frequently.”
Yet governors are now also talking about trying to stay ahead of extreme weather conditions. One of Murphy’s signature campaign goals in 2017 was a clean energy and climate change plan. When asked if Ida could help him, Murphy said he hopes it will.
“I say this with a heavy heart because, you know, we’re talking about a storm that killed 30 people, so it’s not something I wish – on the contrary – but I hope it adds up. I can’t believe it’s harmful or harmful to our push, ”he said.
“It has to be, unfortunately, a very stark and tragic reminder that we have to act, we have to get ahead, we cannot continue to be dragged by it.”
Marie French from New York, Colby Bermel from California and Lisa Kashinsky from Massachusetts contributed to this report.