Year 4, Month 4, Day 8: Thar She Blows!

Newsweek revisits the New Jersey coastline months after Sandy’s landfall:

Months after Hurricane Sandy, the Jersey Shore is full of talk of rebuilding, but still struggles to accept the march of global warming’s angry waters. Will we be able to keep living where nature doesn’t want us?

The sand was the thing we noticed first. Mostly because it hadn’t been there yesterday, or any day before yesterday, and now it was absolutely everywhere.

For the first 23 hours after the storm, we hadn’t been able to see much of anything at all. On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy had made landfall just south of Long Beach Island, New Jersey, the narrow strip of coastline where I spent my childhood summers and where my parents have lived, full time, for the past eight years. Now a day had passed, and information was hard to come by. My parents were fine; they had evacuated earlier that week to friend’s place 45 miles inland. But the power was out, and the 18-mile-long barrier island, which is home to 20,000 year-round residents, was basically abandoned, so we still didn’t know how much damage our house in North Beach had sustained, or if there were even any houses left in North Beach to sustain damage. Also, the rumors were starting to spread. The Ferris wheel at Fantasy Island has collapsed. A shark is swimming around Surf City. The waves breached the dunes. The ocean met the bay. Whole towns have been washed out. The rumors were not helping.

And still they deny it. March 26:

“Will we be able to keep living where nature doesn’t want us?” Actually, it seems all too evident that nature has a point. Human industrial civilization has introduced hundreds of millions of years’ worth of fossilized carbon into the atmosphere in a geological instant, essentially breaking the Arctic and triggering consequences that are going to reverberate for centuries to come.

A post climate-change future will bring extreme environmental unpredictability. Optimistic forecasts include the destruction of billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure and the likelihood of increased geopolitical instability (a polite euphemism for wars). The damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy is just a preview of coming attractions. The pessimistic forecasts suggest that our carelessness has condemned our descendants to a losing battle against implacable environmental forces.

If we are to secure happiness and prosperity for our posterity, we can no longer afford to irresponsibly ignore the frightening factuality of climate change.

Warren Senders

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