October 31, 2012

Katrina and Irene and Sandy, oh my!

I couldn’t tear myself away from the images coming in out of New York and New Jersey today. I wasn’t shocked; in fact, I’ve been expecting to see New York under water. What I saw today are not pictures from a “once-in-a-generation” storm, as I saw it described today. In fact, they hearken eerily back to 2005, when we all watched in horror as the Katrina images began to roll in.

Hurricane Katrina was a turning point for me. At that moment, I saw incredibly clearly that we are raising sea levels and changing our global climate in a way that any outside observer would probably imagine was an attempt to eradicate our own species, along with a few others. I understood this at a base level, trusting in the scientists who were able to explain it to me in layman’s terms. I couldn’t imagine that everyone else wasn’t seeing this same doom that I was.

Yet, here we are, seven years after Katrina, and we’ve done nothing to change our ways. We let our politicians blather on about abortion and the economy and health care as if any of those things matter when we’re all going to be homeless very soon. There have been some fundamental shifts in our culture in those years, and many people are certainly more aware of their footprints, but on the whole, people seem happy to blissfully sit back and wreck havoc.

When a hurricane like Sandy sweeps in, we should see the water in the streets of Manhattan as a harbinger of things to come as we keep raising sea levels. Instead, we hear how this storm is an anomaly, as if last October 29, we weren’t having exactly this same conversation in exactly the same location about yet another extreme weather event. When all of New Jersey has to rearrange Halloween two years running because of giant storms at the wrong time of year, doesn’t that make it no longer the storm of a generation and just the way things are going to be now?

We can still do something to make what’s coming less catastrophic. We can do things on a personal level. Like, um, maybe not idling our cars, people. I mean, who still does that?

We can also do things on a national level. We’re coming up into an election, and all I hear the politicians talking about is money. These schmucks are supposed to be there to pass useful legislation, and there is no reason our national leaders can’t come up with a few laws on ways we can treat our planet as a non-disposable resource.

Lastly, we can do things on an international level. We need to get into a room and get it done, rather than squabbling for two weeks in Bonn and then heading home.

We also should consider building a fleet of gondolas for Manhattan.

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  • Reply De A October 31, 2012 at 12:12 am

    There is a math350.org program in Boston on 11/15 on this topic. Don’t know too much about it b/c I can’t go, but you might be interested.

  • Reply WendyElissa October 31, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I am so angry at the people who just blindly believe this type of weather is a “fluke” and that they loved the mild winter last year and what a “gift” that was for here in Wisconsin. It makes me so angry that my heart races and I want to scream and scream and scream. I, too, feel on a gut level that we are moving rapidly to disaster. Even my mother-in-law tonight told me this is just a hurricane cycle we have to get through that started in the 1950s. I don’t know exactly what she was talking about but it was some hogwash she probably heard about on Fox news or some other Republican brainwashing media. I try to do small things, like not letting my car idle, etc., but I always feel like it’s not enough.

    • Reply emily October 31, 2012 at 12:58 am

      It’s not enough. We need to work as an entire species to change things. It makes me so frustrated.

  • Reply Melanie October 31, 2012 at 1:43 am

    I too try and do my part, its not enough but I keep screaming about my hatred of the election cycles and its just SO WASTEFUL on all fronts, first, the sheer dollars spent on advertising, lies and half-truth advertising no less on BOTH sides, can you not imagine the good that could be done with those dollars?? Secondly, lets not forget the campaign buses and planes jet-setting here and there for what ONE person to get to a key state for two hours to then turn around and take the big ass bus or plane to another state, and so on and so on. If our politicians gave two shits about the environment where the hell are they on their personal responsibilities? I have never once voted for a candidate because he came to my city.

    • Reply Rebecca November 1, 2012 at 1:34 am

      Damn straight!

  • Reply Poker Chick October 31, 2012 at 3:05 am

    Horrifying. The widespread and just total destruction – some of the worst images haven’t even come in yet. It’s just horrifying.

  • Reply Rebecca November 1, 2012 at 12:41 am

    Just finished your book, Behind the Woodpile. Incredible. Hope you and the children had a happy safe Halloween

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