Sandy's Lessons


nate lavey

Published November 01, 2012, issue of November 09, 2012.
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Still, the overriding emotion on the Forward staff was gratitude. Managing Editor Dan Friedman was stuck in Toronto as the storm hit, unable to get back to his wife and children in Manhattan, but he felt lucky to know that they were safe and sound.

Opinion Editor Gal Beckerman, a relatively new homeowner, was anxious about the tree in his tiny front yard, even more anxious that his wife would go into labor as the storm swept through their Brooklyn neighborhood. He sounded relieved as the Day After wore on. As of this writing, still no baby.

But that awful feeling of helplessness also took hold. Staff writer Seth Berkman’s family and friends live in the eastern part of New Jersey, and he knew that the storm was pounding their homes, flooding their streets, exploding their generators, disrupting their lives.

“As absurd as it may sound, there were times when I wanted to trade places from what was in comparison — serene surroundings in my apartment in Upper Manhattan — to have been in the eye of the storm, just to know how it was affecting those I care for the most,” he wrote. “From afar, you can only hope for the best, a helpless feeling that I’m sure many around the country shared.”

But we are more than helpless in the eye of storms like this one. While scientists still are sorting out the hows and whys of Hurricane Sandy, there is general agreement that steadily rising ocean temperatures contributed to the storm’s ferocity. Scientists are also looking at this year’s historic loss of sea ice in the Arctic as a potential contributor to Sandy’s path, and possibly to the severity of the storm.

And yet, irresponsibly, inexcusably, discussion of climate change has barely registered during this long campaign season. Democrats seem afraid to vocally promote government policies to reduce environmental warming, policies that have to be implemented on a national scale to be effective. And Republicans have cowardly caved to the extremes in their party who dismiss the science altogether.

There’s no other way to say this: We can be grateful for weathering this storm, and prepare better for the next, but unless citizens demand more action from elected officials, and make the individual sacrifices necessary to reduce our own carbon footprints, the stories and feelings and tragedies of storms like Sandy will visit us and others again and again.

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