Climate Change, Fellas?

October 30, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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I trust you will excuse me for using this blog as a way of communicating with my friends and relations that although Keith and I live in Brooklyn, NY,, Hurricane Sandy did us no harm. Western Flatbush may not be the section of New York most lusted after by new residents, but it does have the advantage of being outside all the flood zones. And the electrical wires are buried underground in much of Brooklyn, something the rest of you may want to think about as these extreme weather events become more common.

Which leads me to my next topic. As Hurricane Sandy was bearing down upon us, the presidential campaign slowed but certainly did not stop. When it tools up again, it will be interesting to see if, in the light of this storm, either of the candidates utters the words “climate change.” They certainly haven’t done so up till now.

I am by no means the only person to have noted this. 350.org tried to have a demonstration in Manhattan on Sunday, to point out the connection between climate change and Hurricane Sandy, but they had to cancel it because of the storm. And in a recent article on TomDispatch.com titled “Climate and Clarity,” Rebecca Solnit reflects incisively on the connections between climate change, Sandy, and massive greed. I urge you to read what she has to say.

But I don’t think it hurts to repeat what Solnit and others are saying: extreme weather events, like this storm, and the massive drought in the US midwest last summer, and the tsunami in Hawaii the other day that turned out to be not so bad, are directly linked to climate change. As  a blogger on 350.org observed just before Hurricane Sandy hit, ” This is a storm unlike any we’ve seen before because the earth is doing things it has never done before. The water along the Atlantic coast is 5 degrees hotter than usual, super-charging Sandy’s rainfall, and drawing the strength of the storm further north…”

Now don’t get me wrong here. By pointing out that neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney have said anything in their campaigns about climate change, I am not suggesting that there are no other differences between them. The election of Mitt Romney portends a catastrophe for this country, even for a significant number of the people who will vote for him.

But as a compelling article in The Nation last week documents, Obama–and the Democrats in general–aren’t doing at all well on energy. This is probably because of the huge amounts of money the energy industry pours into lobbying and campaign contributions. The 2010 campaign of Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York, was the single biggest recipient of campaign contributions from the natural gas industry during the period 2005 to 2011. Is it any surprise that he then undertook to permit natural gas fracking in the state, until literally thousands upon thousands of citizens protested such a possibility?

I might add that the “fellas” in the title of this blog post does not refer only to politicians. The US Catholic bishops have not exactly made climate change a big issue in this election either. Climate change is optional, you know, since it’s not directly connected to abortion or contraception. Of course, the bishops did establish a Catholic Coalition on Climate Change a few years back. And that group has been speaking out boldly during this election, as I’m sure you know. And at the bishops’ urging, Catholic priests speak out from the pulpit about climate change all the time. Believe that and I’ll tell you about my recent trip to Mars.

As the flooded-out residents of New York City now grasp, the extreme weather that comes with climate change is no joke. If Mitt Romney is elected, they had better move to higher ground. But even if God has mercy on us and Barack Obama is re-elected, the day after the election, we have got to start banging our fists on him, because climate change has arrived, and the window of opportunity for doing anything about it is shrinking as you read this.

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