Sandy & Climate Change & the Election – Deal With It.

David S. White
Principal of David S. White & Associates, a real estate and general business law firm, West Los Angeles

”I have no idea nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could care less about any of that stuff . . . . .”

“I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power. I’ve got devastation on the shore. I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me,” – NJ Gov. Chris Christie, on ‘Fox and Friends.”

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Unless you have been in a coma these past couple of weeks, the TV images of the utter destruction wrought by Frankenstorm Sandy (or “Superstorm,” if you watch CNN, which banned the ‘F’-name) should make you really think.

Really tough guys, like Gov. Chris Christie and Michael Bloomberg, now ‘get it.’

Stunningly, not one of the two Presidential candidates even mentioned Climate Change in the three debates – not so much as a whisper.  Romney even made a big joke of it at the Republican Convention, but, you know what, residents of NYC and New Jersey are not laughing now while they wait in mile-long gas lines, gather to recharge cell phones and computers wherever a live electric plug is found, and wonder how they will rebuild from this devastation.

I am not going to try to convince the readers here of anthropogenic climate change – that the incredible amounts of carbon dioxide pumped in our atmosphere since the early 19thC start of the Industrial Revolution, are actually causing superstorms, droughts, melting of Arctic ice, and the panoply of other weird things happening over the last decades.  You don’t have to believe in something for it to be true; I’m not a scientist, and, likely, neither are you.

Frankly, it doesn’t matter what is causing our climate to change.  Wake up and smell the coffee – it’s changing, alright.  The first eight months of 2012, were the hottest ever recorded in the continental United States (national record-keeping began in 1895) and the Summer period of June, July and August was the third hottest ever, the National Climatic Data Center reported last September.

The global average surface temperature in 2011, was the ninth warmest since 1880, according to NASA scientists. The finding continues a trend in which nine of the 10 warmest years in the modern meteorological record (as of 2011) have occurred since the year 2000.

These are facts.  You cannot make your own facts.

And global “warming” is a misnomer – it is climate change which is happening – whatever the cause.  And what makes it worse, regardless of the cause, is burning all that carbon and pumping it into our atmosphere.  Yes, we don’t fully understand the complexities of climate yet.  Yes, we cannot be scientifically sure that any one superstorm is a direct product of climate change.  But, science tells us, unambiguously now, that our addiction to fossil fuels is, at the very least, contributing to the change – and, surely is not making it any better.  And, nobody can quarrel that heat melts ice.

But, it’s happening, for whatever reason.   Our earth is on the way to becoming far less hospitable to the 7 Billion of our species who live here now, than during much of the last interglacial period, approximately the last 10-11,000 years since the final Ice Age retreated, when human civilization became truly modern, flowering beyond anything imaginable, considering our species’ ancient and humble beginnings, swinging from trees in Africa millions of years ago.

Like the frog who sits in a pot of hot water coming to a slow boil, not noticing the heat, or thinking (assuming, frogs think) itself able to jump out, until it dies, the human race is doing the same thing on our planet.  Some say it is already too late to turn the clock all the way back and get a leg up on the effects of the changing climate, others stay there is still time to get serious.

So, we don’t need a federal government, and states should be responsible for saving themselves?

Glance at the Sandy storm statistics.

Better than my rhetoric, this sobering reality should tell you that our states, many of whom are still near bankruptcy (though our Federal Bankruptcy laws do not allow states to petition for bankruptcy relief), had no prayer of getting through this kind of devastation without federal help.

Friday night’s NBC Hurricane Sandy Relief telethon, which I hope you did not miss, at least recording, brought the suffering home again to your BigScreen TV, if, somehow, you missed it all last week and the weekend prior, or you had no power in your home.

Lest we forget, our nation’s crumbling infrastructure is painfully obvious.  NYC’s subway system is over 100 years old, and never flooded before this superstorm.  Their electrical grid is old, antiquated, held together with duct tape, and screaming for an overhaul – when the lights go out in lower Manhattan, our nation’s financial capital strangles.  That plan for a storm floodgate system for lower NY Harbor, like London has on the Thames, has been delayed too long, and surely might have helped the NYC Metro area in this tragedy – it will cost zillions, but, consigning NYC to the fate of Atlantis, I guarantee you, will cost more.

Considering that Irene and Sandy have now threatened our nation’s financial capital two years in a row, it’s time to get real about strengthening and upgrading our infrastructure.

Those TV images last week of Obama and Christie, touring NJ together, leaving political quarrels at the door – devastation of our citizenry is a time to rise above partisan politics – lives and property are at stake.  Before the superstorm hit, when all computer models chillingly told the same story, NJ and NYC, right in the cross-hairs, predications were for $10-20 Billion in damages – that figure is now zooming to $30-50 Billion, and up, up and away.

So, here’s your take-away message: it doesn’t matter why climate is changing – it is changing; deal with it.

It is high time to put partisan politics aside and to find solutions to the 21stC challenges facing our nation – facing all of us, the whole rainbow of Black/White/Brown/Yellow which makes our country great; Republican and Democrat; rich and poor; loveable and un-loveable.  We all share this planet.  Wishing does not make it so.  If ocean levels are rising and arctic ice is melting, these are facts, not political platforms, not conspiracies of the left- or right-wing.  It is madness to continue to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result, Einstein told us.

The 2012 election is destined for the history books.  For those of us who hope to live and prosper longer than just the incredibly short-sighted tunnel vision of a political campaign, there is a huge amount of work to do to keep this country alive, well and great in this still new 21stC.

Let’s roll up our sleeves now and get busy . . .

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