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Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Headshot

An Open Letter From Hurricane Sandy

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2012-11-07-BolemanHerringNovember122012image.jpg
Dear Coastal America: I'll be back.

If, for all intents and purposes, I appear to have run my course, wiping out the Jersey Shore, Staten Island and what passes for a power grid in benighted, northeastern, Tri-State America, I warn you, appearances can be very misleading.

In fact, just as it takes a village to rear a child, it apparently takes any number of severe weather events (I love the euphemisms you so-called higher primates come up with) to convince Americans of the reality of climate change (another euphemism, but I'm going to let that one slide for now).

You might have noticed that, in my wake, yet another storm -- a Nor'easter bringing wind, rain, then snow, and power outages amongst those whose power had just been restored -- hit the Tri-State? That wasn't just a meaningless coda, Folks. Nor is the unseasonably warm and sunny weather arriving right on that Nor-easter's heels.

We're all -- the Frankenstorm, the Nor'easter, the November warm spell, and all the other weird weather you're experiencing -- simply part and parcel of a much larger event, a planet-wide phenomenon, engendered by the homo sapiens-generated exhaust-cloud of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere since you all discovered the joys of using petroleum for things Mother Nature never intended.

Keep up the bad work -- drilling, refining, fracking, filling those gas-guzzlers -- and you can expect more of the same from me. Just as a hand has many fingers, so the calamity of climate change will be expressed in myriad different ways: hurricanes where hurricanes previously feared to tread; tornadoes the size of small states; snow followed by sunshine; the ice caps melting away into nothing.

I'm not sure what it will take to get your attention but, I must say, New Orleans and Tri-State America seem focused on reality now as opposed to denying it, if just for the time being.

Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg, of New York and New York City, respectively, seem to have got Mother Nature's memo, e.g. me. And President Obama, who's kept mum his entire campaign long on the subject, finally mentioned the name that must not be named in his victory speech the morning of November 7: "We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt," he said, "that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet."

"The destructive power of a warming climate": I'd have mentioned climate change first in that list had I been the president, but I'll take any mention I can get.

So, don't sit back and say, as so many have, that I, Sandy, was a once-in-a-lifetime storm. Don't blithely rebuild the Jersey Shore, or go back to business as usual in Lower Manhattan because, unless you change your ways immediately, I'll be back to hammer this lesson home, in one form or another.

Climate change is undeniable.

Katrina was me, in one of my many guises; Sandy was another. But I'm much bigger than any of my parts -- horrible as they may be, taken just one at a time -- and I can assure you that if you keep widening that already massive carbon footprint and conducting business as usual... I'll be right back.