Posted by Thomas Nephew on November 1st, 2012
So far, the Obama administration appears to be doing a good enough job with post-Sandy relief efforts that even Republican governor Chris Christie has been effusive in his appreciation. Adding to the surreal atmosphere was the Return of Michael “Heckuva Job” Brown, criticizing the Obama administration for being too quick with their federal response — and then doubled down the next day asserting that Obama hadn’t got enough political mileage out of the disaster. With enemies like these, who needs friends?
Get ready for more like this.
As Democrats bask in the glow of being the Party of Better Emergency Management, though, some voters were on the lookout for a little more: a commitment to fighting the global warming that’s fueling ever more frequent and powerful weather disasters — heck, even just acknowledgement of the problem.
We sure haven’t seen it in the presidential debates; after the second debate, Charles Pierce of Esquire noted,
On Tuesday night, we had two guys arguing about who’s a bigger friend to coal, about who will allow the most oil drilling on federal land, and about who will best extract the most carbon-based fuels out from under the country over the next four years.
With that kind of leadership as a backdrop, I’ve seen discussions literally comparing New Yorkers — and perhaps coastal dwellers everywhere — to the Jews in pre-Holocaust Germany: doomed unless they leave or unless they’re saved by a political miracle, and wondering what it is that is paralyzing all of us from taking sensible action. The fear is not far-fetched; it turns out to be an engineering exercise. According to a Nature Climate Change article (Lin et al, Jan 2012):
…the change of storm climatology will probably increase the surge risk for NYC; results based on two GCMs [global climate models] show the distribution of surge levels shifting to higher values by a magnitude comparable to the projected sea-level rise (SLR). The combined effects of storm climatology change and a 1m SLR may cause the present NYC 100-yr surge flooding to occur every 3–20yr and the present 500-yr flooding to occur every 25–240yr by the end of the century.
(Via Corey Robin; emphases added.) Realizations like this shouldn’t just result in support for higher seawalls, though; it should re-energize political support for addressing global warming itself.
It seems to me we have an obvious opportunity to do that: if you’re in a “safe” state where Obama leads Romney by a wide margin or vice versa — like New York – voting Green next Tuesday ought to be a pretty simple, low-risk, high gain experiment.* A lot of people are on the verge of really getting it about global warming — but others are on the verge of giving up about it. Let’s raise our hands, vote Green, and show them all — and Democratic apparatchiks besides — that there could be a “fight global warming” bandwagon to get on.
You should follow up your “vote” message with some “messages about your vote”: letters to the editor, Facebook posts, tweets, and/or musical productions explaining what you’ve done and why; there may well be other reasons, from the war on civil liberties and human rights to the war on the safety net to the possibility of war with Iran. But I would stress Hurricane Sandy, because people get that pretty easily right now.
Sure, there’s no guarantee the message will be received, or that it will be acted on. But if you’d like your message to be heard, you’ve got to send it.
UPDATE, 11/1: Nation Suddenly Realizes This Just Going To Be A Thing That Happens From Now On (The Onion)
* If you’re in a swing state, vote Green too, *if* Stein really represents your views best — there is nothing whatsoever wrong with that, Obama never owned your vote, he can only earn it or lose it. I’d vote Stein in Ohio this year, because Obama lost my vote. And while I get why many would not, I think it should be because they, on balance, really *prefer* Obama over Stein when *all* is said and done — and not out of some misplaced sense of shame about otherwise helping Romney win.