Even now, while the storm still wreaks havoc and water is everywhere, it’s worth contrasting our response to Sandy with that of Katrina in 2005. As we watched Katrina, a Category 5 storm, closing in on New Orleans, it looked like every person for himself. Nobody seemed to be in charge. There was very little communication. It was chaos. As the catastrophe was in full swing, George W. Bush said to the hapless head of FEMA, “Heck of a job, Brownie”. Over 1,800 people died, some trapped in their attics. Thousands of pets were abandoned. The physical damage was so extensive that New Orleans remains heavily damaged even today, some seven years later.
Thirty-three deaths from Sandy,
compared to 1,800+ from Katrina.
Monster storms are expected every few years.
Yet Mitt Romney wants to dismantle FEMA.
Sandy was never a strong storm, but it was huge. Flooding and damage occurred up and down most of the US east coast. The storm crest, boosted by a full moon, was a record thirteen feet. But everyone from the president on down took it very seriously from the first. There was much damage, but as I write, the death toll, mostly from falling trees, was 33. Thirty-three compared to 1,800+. Yet Mitt Romney wants to dismantle FEMA and turn it back to the states. It will be underfunded. Coordination will be minimal. There will be no overall command. What will this mean when the next monster storm plows into Texas, or Georgia?
Sandy is said to be the storm of the century. Maybe so far. The likelihood is that there will be equivalent or worse storms every few years because of global climate change. It is far too late to do anything about them, either Sandy or future storms. We can only evacuate, batten down, hope for the best, and prepare for the worst. The worst will become common. The dollar cost of each storm will be enormous. They will challenge not only our national character, but our national budget.
Sandy is only the latest manifestation
of what thousands of climate scientists
have been saying
for more than three decades.
Note that money spent on Sandy contributes to GDP. That makes it good, according to the way the GDP is used, because it is money spent. But is there a single soul who thinks paying for the aftermath of Sandy will be beneficial for the country? This is why we need more realistic indices for the economic health of the country, such as the Genuine Progress Index and the Gini index of inequality.
Sandy is only the latest manifestation of what thousands of climate scientists have been saying for more than three decades: we will have more violent storms, greater snowfall, more flooding, more drought, more wildfires, rising ocean levels because of global warming. Yet there is no global agreement for dealing with climate change. There are few national plans. There is no US plan.
Global warming has not registered on the election radar at all. That’s because Obama can’t risk the distraction from other concerns, and Romney dare not deny the climate change deniers in his party. Meantime, Republicans want to radically increase the extraction of fossil fuels, all of which end up as greenhouse gasses contributing to global climate change. But that’s business, and business is always good, right?
Stalwart Republicans forge ahead, maintaining either that (1) there is no global climate change, (2) it is not caused by the greenhouse gasses we pour into the atmosphere at record rates, (3) its importance is greatly exaggerated. This is apparently a religious belief, an article of faith that cannot be shaken regardless of the tsunami of evidence.