I have a lot of blog posts stacked up, but today they all seem trivial. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, as the clean-up begins and we wait for the latest death toll numbers, we are left with questions. How do we keep Americans safe in the midst of ever-increasing, ever-intensifying weather events? How do we repair a crumbling infrastructure when money is tight — and yet, how do we not? How do we even consider electing someone for our country’s highest office who would privatize the work that FEMA does?
Passionate debates occur online and in the media. Some still stick to their guns that the climate change we see isn’t man-made. Even after Sandy. Even after Richard Muller, a Koch brothers-funded climate change denier, changed his stance last summer. Even with more than 97% of scientists in agreement.
We do what we can. A few years ago, when my old Mustang bit the dust, I opted to live without a replacement. We keep our thermostat turned down and add layers of clothing instead. I dry only sheets and towels in the dryer, and hang all our clothing on drying racks. We recycle, compost and look for ways to reuse and reduce the packaging that we use. Most of our food comes from nearby, reducing the energy costs of getting the food to us.
Still, I feel a sense of futility. My efforts feel puny and inadequate.
Yes, let’s donate to the American Red Cross and other organizations who can help our friends and loved ones in the Northeast. Yes, let’s pull together as Americans still seem to do, even in our divided political landscape. But let’s also not waste this catastrophic event to have the real discussions we need to have. I am grateful for Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg for daring to utter the words “climate change,” which have been erased from political debates. We need to bring those words front and center.
Today, local children will dress up in their costumes and parade through downtown, where we will applaud them. We’ll give away lots of little Kit Kat bars (I hope so, anyway, because we sure have a bunch of them!). We’ll have fun and enjoy Hallowe’en. Maybe we’ll tell a ghost story or two…and we’ll try not to let the real scary story keep us up at night. This is not an imaginary monster hiding under the bed. This is real. We need to change.