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Cleaning Up

Hurricane Season supposedly runs from June 1 through November 30. But, of course, most of the action happens before summer ends.

But in recent years, it seems like the season has extended, by a lot! We start getting named storms in May, and they run right up till the end of the season, with Sandy here being a huge example of a powerful late storm.

It's pretty bad when you have parts of the city turning into parts of the river. Of course we were better prepared for a storm because of the infrastructure the city has in place compared to the more rural and suburban areas nearby. However there's a fire still burning out of control as I type this in the Breezy Point section of Queens that has already burned through 50 homes and is threatening even more. Over 200 fire fighters are at the scene trying to corral that blaze in the still high blowing winds.

It's difficult to think that the process of global warming doesn't have something to do with it. As we pump more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, as more UV rays penetrate the ozone, and as the mean temperature for the planet continues upward incrementally, aren't we going to be seeing more and more frankenstorms? And by "more and more," I mean literally more storms every year with the storms being more massive, more threatening and more damaging.

Even though we in NYC were dealt a glancing blow from Sandy and not the direct hit that was expected by some, we still have a massive cleanup to take care of, the likes of which has never been seen. Water from the Hudson and East rivers is all over the place and though some of it receded on its own, a lot more is going to need to be pumped out. The Subways are going to be closed for at least today, along with our airports... but likely they will remain closed longer, which means that life in the city is going to be put on hold for at least that long. Many people lost power, many people lost trees and some people in truly tragic stories lost loved ones.

Certainly there are scientists that have suggested storms affected by global warming is the case, and the famed documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" spelled it out in fairly straightforward terms. That was six years ago. And during that time, there's been a huge argument about the validity of it all. Why change when you can just stick your head in the sand? Or, more to the point, why change when you are the one profiting?

So, what's the answer now? Are we just going to continue to do what we do or can we alter our behavior? Or maybe more importantly, will the people in power start to acknowledge that this is a part of what's actually going on: that our own actions are having an impact on our environment? Because if that doesn't happen, we will continue the argument about why this is happening, instead of starting to do the things to prevent it.

Some scientists say that there is a "tipping point" that we are gradually reaching; it's a place where there's no going back and our fate is sealed... The crest of the first long hill of a roller coaster where the results are inevitable. If we don't do anything before we reach that point, we may be doomed to a new kind of earth, with oppressively hot summers, no polar ice caps, and more super storms like Sandy, every hurricane season.

Forget Halloween. THAT is the scary stuff.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
serendipity
Oct. 30th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
I've been waiting for your post. Glad you're OK! Wish the environment had been directly addressed in the debates.
penpusher
Oct. 30th, 2012 03:12 pm (UTC)
A lot more power outages thanks to an exploding Con Edison center... and the storm surge pushed the water nine feet higher than normal! The Subways and roads are underwater. We really are dealing with a lot right now... It'll likely be a week before things get back to semi-normal...

But yes, we have to look at how the climate changes are changing everything for the world. But at this point, it's probably too early to think about that... or maybe too late?
serendipity
Oct. 30th, 2012 03:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I watched it all happen from afar. So scary - especially the evacuations of patients from hospitals.
penpusher
Oct. 30th, 2012 03:26 pm (UTC)
The irony is that the NYU Langone Medical Center that got evacuated is named after Kenneth Langone, who was the parent of one of my classmates at Bucknell, and is the man behind The Home Depot, which we will probably need to help fix NYC back up.
serendipity
Oct. 30th, 2012 03:29 pm (UTC)
penpusher
Oct. 30th, 2012 03:41 pm (UTC)
It's helpful to remind ourselves how fortunate we really are in the grand scheme. Haiti has dealt with so, so much, even more than New Orleans in that way. It's truly heartbreaking to read these accounts.

The truth is many of the places here, even the ones most damaged, that can and will be replaced over time. These people never recovered from the earthquake and are dealing with a hurricane, which is really inhuman.

Why wasn't the UN or other international governments able to do things to help back then? Or, perhaps the real question is why didn't they help? And what will they do now?

Misery, indeed.
serendipity
Oct. 30th, 2012 03:05 pm (UTC)
And THANK YOU for the Lesley Gore video. I'm distributing it widely. I've loved the song since childhood when it first came out and I love Lesley Gore even more now.
serendipity
Oct. 30th, 2012 07:38 pm (UTC)
My older brother thanks you for the video too.
thoughtsbykat
Oct. 30th, 2012 09:01 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear from you and that you are safe. it will be awhile before things are back to 'normal'.
Our gov't(stare & federal) needs to work on our infrastructure. The power plants are aging and they keep shutting some of them down, they aren't building new ones. Some plants can be converted to natural gas which we have plenty of. I heard they had problems at Indian Point, hope it was minor and not a major issue. Alternative energy is a good idea but they haven't thought the whole thing through, they need to figure out how to store the energy.
penpusher
Oct. 31st, 2012 04:20 pm (UTC)
We're really starting to see the full scope of the devastation in a lot of the communities around the NYC area... it's stunning in its completeness in some areas, where people lost everything. Their homes vanished as if a magician made them disappear.

Of course Indian Point being nuclear powered is always a focus... and it's on an earthquake fault, which really makes everyone feel safe.

There are many, many questions this storm has raised, not just for the NY area or even the affected area, but for the country and maybe to a greater extent, the world as far as making things work better and caring more for people. Energy is important but life is of ultimate importance, and we need some help with protecting both.
stronae
Oct. 31st, 2012 12:12 pm (UTC)
Glad you're okay, at least. Stay safe; the aftermath tends to be just as obnoxious.
penpusher
Oct. 31st, 2012 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thanks a lot. The city itself is limping along and it'll still be a few days before that all gets repaired... admiration to all the people working through the wires and wading through the water to try to get things back on track. They have a ton of stuff to do...
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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