Climate change cannot be ignored after Sandy
Cutting to the heart the of matter, The Onion makes me cry.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged a large part of the Northeast with particularly bad damage in New Jersey and my coastal Connecticut hometown, The Onion managed to release a couple of darkly humorous pieces.
The Onion recently ran these two pieces with headlines: “Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On” and “Report: Only Way Nation Will Pay Attention To Climate Change Is If Julia Roberts Dies In Hurricane.” While funny as usual, they also managed to be horrifying.
The U.S. has been suffering from a debilitating drought this past year, and has just now weathered a storm that has done unprecedented damage in the areas affected. Parts of New York City were without power for days, and entire neighborhoods were wiped away. Power is still something to be envied throughout much of the region: My neighbors were hosting friends lacking power earlier this week.
We will recover from this storm, much faster and effectively than from Katrina, it seems. But one needs to consider why so many natural disasters are befalling us, and to whom should we turn to answer these questions.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the two organizations of the U.S. government most qualified to speak on the matter, both say that global warming — or climate change, as its now called — is very real, and that the existence of the greenhouse effect is an indisputable fact.
Yet somehow, we won’t listen to scientists on the government payroll, and instead continue our inaction to save not only the world around us, but also ourselves.
Among environmentalists such as Bill McKibben, there’s an attitude that it’s already too late, that these storms are a fact of life now. As fictional people interviewed by The Onion said, we’ll have to get used to seeing American cities flooded and American homes destroyed on a regular basis.
There’s no reason for this. We know the primary cause is greenhouse gases, and nobody is arguing for more dependence on petroleum, but many of us continue to live as though nothing has changed. What will it take to make us realize our continued inaction is in direct opposition to our long-term existence?
Mitt Romney, the recently defeated Republican candidate for the presidency, is on record as a believer of climate change. Politics dictated that he not advertise that fact during his bid for the Oval Office, but you have to see the hypocrisy in claiming to want future generations of Americans to be “unburdened by debt” while at the same time turning one’s head to what threatens to drown them — in a much more literal manner.
I only hope that President Barack Obama, now with another four years, will be willing to take strong measures to combat the causes of climate change, particularly with the influence of the fossil fuel lobbyists.
I am taking the damage done to my hometown and the Northeast as a call to action. I intend to take active measures to reduce my carbon footprint, and to help advocate against the use of fossil fuels. While their use is necessary in some instances, we should do everything in our power to limit their use.
Just remember, the Geological Society of London and other experts in the field of geology are contemplating designating our current time period in geological history as the “anthropocene” since human-driven factors, such as the shift in weather, are the defining aspect of this part of the rock record. Millions of years from now, they will know what we did. Let’s do more to ensure our descendants are able to see the point in history when we started improving things.