Up | November 03, 2012
>>> my story of the week -- what's at stake? at about 8:00 p.m . on monday night the east- facing windows in my brooklyn apartment started to bubble and buckle inward in a deeply unsettling way. the wind howled and we thought it prudent to move ourselves away from the wall exposed to the elements. that one moment of sharp anxiety was as bad as things got. we were lucky. our power never went out and my neighborhood is on high enough ground it wasn't flooded by the storm surge . there are a few downed trees that took out parked cars but that was about it. a few neighborhoods over a young couple were out walking their dog at some point that evening and they were struck by a falling tree and killed. they are two of the estimated 109 people who died due to the storm here in the u.s. a death toll that is mercifully lower than one might anticipate given the scale of the damage. destruction is most evident here in new york city in staten island , in queens devastated coastal neighborhoods and in the powerless precincts of lower manhattan where cars roll through intersections without streetlights and commuters trundle over the bridging walking over an east river whose waters overflowed its banks filling the subway tunnels that connect the boroughs and rendering much of the system unusable. the mta chairman said new york subways have, quote, never faced a disaster as devastating. it's very rare when the subways in this city don't run. but there are some things simultaneously awful and exhilarating about those moments when normalcy is suspended. new yorkers will still tell you about the solidarity and fellowship they share with their neighbors on their stoops on the lightless nights of the 2003 blackout. or the comfort and aid they found in each other as they fled through the streets on foot covered in dust away from the falling towers. obviously the loss of life and intensity of trauma caused by sandy is nowhere near the scale of 9/11. but it's fair to say the city hasn't been this devastated since that september day. and as many unsung civil servants and first responders and utility workers labor tirelessly to get the city running again, i'm reminded that one of the raw truths of 9/11 is that the first thing a competent government must do is protect its citizens. it can't protect them from everything nor should it try but i think we all recognize amidst the horror of 9/11 we want our government first and foremost to keep us safe. the state cannot eliminate senseless death, but its duty is to reduce its likelihood. it's a conservative insight really the idea that government's job before all else is to keep its citizens secure, to protect them, that everything else comes after. and lefty that i am, i'm reminded in this moment that it contains an undeniable core truth -- and, yet, here we sit with a political system that could barely bring itself to acknowledge or discuss the tangible danger climate change poses to us, never mind undertake the massive sustained effort necessary to combat and adapt to it. andrew cuomo as careful a politician as you'll see tried to note the elephant in the room without ever naming it.
>> there has been a series of extreme weather incidents. anyone that's -- that's not a political statement . that's a factual statement. anyone who says there's not a dramatic change in weather patterns i think is denying reality.
>> and his endorsement of president obama this week new york mayor michael bloomberg rote in 14 months two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods something our city government had never done before. if this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable. no, it's not sustainable. things that can't go on don't. it's true, sandy was a freak storm, a bad confluence of a number of low probability events that could conceivably happened in some alternate climate that wasn't warming. but this climate, our climate, is warming, and as it does, low probability events like this will become more probable and more intense. carbon emissions are trapping extra energy in our atmosphere and with extra energy come more extremes, higher sea levels , drier droughts, hotter heat waves and heavier, wetter storms. we need a crash program in this country right now to re-engineer the nation's infrastructure to cope with and prepare for the climate disruptions that we have already ensured with the carbon we've already put into the atmosphere. as well as an immediate, aggressive transformation of our energy production , economy, and society to reduce the amount of carbon we will put into the atmosphere in the future. this is as fundamental, as elemental as human endeavors get. the story of civilization is the long tale of crusaders for order battling the unceasing reality of chaos. and it is a kind of miracle that we have succeeded as much as we have, that airplanes fly through the air and roads plunge beneath the water and the entire teeming lattice work of human life exist in the manifold improbable places it does. but it's the grand irony that imposing this order on the world we've released millions of years of stored up carbon into the atmosphere which is now altering the climate and threatening the very monuments of civilization we so cherish. we absolutely have it within us collectively to beat back the forces of chaos once again, but we must choose to do so. and the time for choosing is now. you are either on the side of your fellow citizens and residents of this planet or you are on the side of the storm as yet unnamed. you cannot be neutral. so, which side are you on? [