8.29.2011

GOOD RIDDANCE, SWEET IRENE



I suppose it is hysteria if nothing happens, and preparedness if all hell breaks loose. My friends in the photo above clearly went all out--but they're always quite clever about everything they do. I’m glad Bloomberg battened down the hatches in New York, so taxpayers aren’t spending millions repairing broken buses and soggy trains. If he hadn’t done so, and hell had unleashed its fury, you can only imagine the ensuing second-guessing and finger-pointing; New Yorkers are fond of exercising their right to free speech, letting out the leash for long talk.

My Rhode Island town got caught somewhere at the “not much” end of things during Hurricane Irene. I went into huddle mode with friends, dragging along bags of goodies I'd purchased--as my bud Jim Wolcott put it in Vanity Fair, I shopped as if I were going to a slumber party. I was! Kids were down at the shore with their parents, marveling at the size of the waves and the spew of the foam, kiting their arms to feel the lift of the wind. But I felt like the child who was coaxed by a fun-loving dad onto the roller coaster, spent terrified minutes white-knuckling the safety bar, sobbing, only to be told, at the end, gee, wasn’t that fun?

No.

Irene whipped the ocean into a roiling mess. I watched the tide charts warily, wondering when we were going to be slammed by a surge. I was anxious with anticipation of disaster. My gardens were flattened and mulched by salt spray, tree limbs cracked and leaves where shorn off. Autumn looks to have arrived early. But we were lucky. Now we’re into the “disruption” stage; no Internet, no electricity, no phone. We’ll recover quickly.

I did fall asleep thinking about how our anxiety about a hurricane was nothing compared to the anxiety we should all be feeling about the climate crisis. We aren’t concerned--not anywhere near enough. There are many reasons for this, but here's a good one: science deniers. Check out this Krugman piece on the anti-science GOP. Irene, like any storm, focused us on one event, her own drama. We could see it through. Once out the other end, the sun would shine, the sky would have a polished cerulean gleam, the flowers would lift up their faces, drink it all in, and we would start mending fences.

We aren’t preparing for the biggest weather whopper of them all, one that, unlike the roller coaster, won’t stop to let us off--even though it is we, the mothers and fathers, who are coaxing our children onto what will be an unforgiving ride from hell. Too many of us aren’t listening to the storm warnings. Those of us who hear the news aren’t calling to warn our friends and neighbors, who might not have heard the alarm bells. We must do so. We have to shrug off the torpor of acceptance, of defeat, that has settled heavily over us.

No one is going to get through to the end of the climate crisis ride in this lifetime. And no one will think it was any fun at all.

14 comments:

pamingram said...

and one only has to look at vermont, north carolina and new jersey to see what terror rising water causes. thank you for your vigil and for reminding us of what roles we have in averting crises. sadly, many of the tools, like satellite monitoring which gives us early warning of storm events, and other environmental montoring tools are being defunded or threatened with defunding by well-meaning, perhaps, but woefully underinformed public officials. psi

Silver Magpies said...

The slow motion crisis rarely provikes action until it's too late.

Let's keep working to make sure the drums are heard and not just dismissed as background noise.

Joeth Barlas said...

Nice job of worrying about the connection of Bad Weather to climate change. Ironic that members of Bill McKibben's protest (see http://www.350.org/ and http://vtdigger.org/2011/08/25/mckibben/)spent time in jail as a result of their sit-in this week (they plan to continue protests through September 3). Just a few degrees of ocean temperature, and the storms supersize...

Jose blew "harmlessly" off to the east of Bermuda, but TD12 -- to be named Katie -- has left the African coast. We may have learn to "shelter in place" more often...

Madgew said...

Rising waters in Vermont really tell the tale and they were so unprepared. I heard their governor say nothing can be done ahead of time to stem the rise in the brooks and streams but I find that hard to believe. Nothing like putting your head in the sand (water). Climate change is real and the sooner everyone starts believing it the better. How many times to we have to hear this is the worst of this or that to believe we are not in control and need some real thinking to happen to figure this all out. The information is literally pouring in and we are ignoring it. So sad for our future.

Doug Hein said...

Please read Paul Krugman's column in the NY Times today about Perry's and Romney's responses to questions about climate change on the campaign trail. It's right on the money.

Barbara said...

Glad you made it through the storm without too much damage!

Re your second point: The same people who are frothing at the mouth about the need to cut all government programs and spending in order to "save their children's future," are quite willing to hand down the horrific future that climate change will bring to said offspring. They may not believe in climate change, but it is there anyway. Do you think there's any point in addressing messages about THAT future to those people, or are they just too dense to get it?

Dominique said...

Thanks Doug, link to excellent Krugman column now added.

Barbara, I'm going to write about that soon, you are right, there's a real disconnect. I don't think most of the deniers are "dense" though to be as anti-science as they are certainly seems that way. I think many have other agendas, and many are paid by coal and oil barons to keep the disinformation going--at our expense. Just as the tobacco industry lobbyists did.

Madgew, your comments about Vermont remind me of what it was like in Tennessee last year during the flood. Everyone was caught by surprise. Water rises astonishingly fast. But in more general terms, no, we aren't doing what we need to do. Look, even in NYC, millions are being spent on an underground subway tunnel. Underground transit will be untenable in a relatively short time.

Missie Edmondson Cooper said...

I'm a new attendee to your blog and am in there hooked by your lines and zingers. Could you give specifics about action I might take in the war against blindness to our most devastating possible disaster? How can I be effective? I don't want to stand idly by and watch us sink.
Thank you for offering a place to find wisdom and camaraderie.

Lost in Provence said...

Just a simple thank you for all that you do, again. Grateful for your smart readers as well.

profA said...

Dominique, you are blessed with witty friends!
You may see videos similar to these on the nightly news in a short while.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2flGnMmSIRI&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z2oDT_fV6Vs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwY6y2Thq1Y&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eN1HIYDNwUU&feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtNEf2-PFMA&feature=related

They are from Queechee VT. Such power. Unimaginable. Exactly one year ago we stood in the Simon Pearce parking lot and watched teenagers jumping into the roiling water at the base of the falls.

Please go to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise. Essex County which can ill afford any economic setbacks has suffered a terrible blow. Senator Gillibrand, please make a trip to this county which went for an upstate girl. This is a tragedy. Residents were not expecting such fury. An economic area always on the edge has been pushed to the brink. And this at the tail end of Irene's journey.
Peace~
Linda B.

PS Yes, Doug Hain. Pertinent and a call to action.

Judith Ross said...

Whether a roller coaster or a runaway train is your metaphor of choice, like it or not, we are all already on board.

We need to be loud and clear, this impacts us all and we can't sit back and watch as our planet implodes.

Dominique said...

Well said, Judith. So for starters, Missie Cooper, come to Moms Clean Air Force.org and join. We'll send you emails about what's going on with air pollution, and we'll send you links to letters, petitions, comment threads--we'll make it easy to get started with activism. Right now we're focused on new EPA regulations on air--but as you might now, the EPA's biggest target will eventually be to regulate carbon emissions. Right now, that's the ONLY thing the government has going in the way of slowing down this runaway train, roller coaster....

Warren said...

Glad you made it through eating ice cream. Oh if only some of that weather would have gotten folks working together in DC .... How many more disaster pics do we need before both sides realize they are the problem. "A house divided cannot stand..."

Dominique said...

So true, Warren. I've been puzzling about the whole "dominion" versus "steward" argument, from a religious point of view. I simply can't wrap my mind around it....