Year 4, Month 5, Day 12: Central Park In The Dark

Well, damn. USA Today:

Superstorm Sandy released 11 billion gallons of sewage from East Coast treatment plants into bodies of water from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut, according to a report released Tuesday by a science journalism group.

Princeton, N.J.-based Climate Central said that future sewage leaks are a major risk because rising sea levels can make coastal flooding more severe.

The group, which compiled data from state agencies and treatment plant operators, did not look at the specific environmental or public health impact of the sewage overflows after Sandy, which struck in late October. But it said that bacteria in sewage can spread water-borne illnesses and have a particularly bad effect on shellfish.

In New Jersey, officials spent months monitoring shellfish beds for contamination and reopened the last of them in mid-April, said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The collective overflows — almost all in New York and New Jersey and due to storm surges — would be enough to cover New York City’s Central Park with a pile of sewage 41 feet high, Climate Central said.

Just read that last paragraph again, willya? April 30:

The news that Superstorm Sandy distributed eleven billion gallons of sewage all over East coast water systems is a compelling argument for massive infrastructural investment in preparation for planetary climate change. At the mandated rate of 1.6 gallons, that’s just under one flush for every man, woman, and child now alive on Earth.

For the past century, we’ve been pumping our waste CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, resulting in a runaway greenhouse effect that threatens our agriculture, our environment, our oceans, and our civilization. It’s a powerful irony that the intensifying storms which are fueled by global heating now seem poised to deliver a far less intangible waste product back to our doorsteps and water supplies.

Atmospheric CO2 is now 400 parts per million, a level not seen for millions of years. As my 8-year-old might put it, unless we implement robust climate and energy policies immediately, we’ll be in deep doo-doo.

Warren Senders