October
29th 2012
Hurricanes: another reason to appreciate the high plains desert, until the drought gets too bad.

Posted under: American history, unhappy endings

Down, Sandy! Down girl!

I was very sorry to hear about Hurricane Sandy as I know that many of you regular readers and commenters live in the BosWash corridor and so stand to be flooded out, snowed in, and/or suffer damage to your homes (or all of the above!  Fun.)  I’ve been following the news today, and it looks to be one of those agonizingly slow-moving but fierce storms.  Here’s hoping that property is all that’s lost in this storm.

It’s really too bad neither of the major parties was courageous enough to make climate change an issue in the campaign this year.  (Scratch that–climate change was indeed a big issue in the Republican primary–the issue being who could deny the fact of anthropogenic climate change the fastest and promise more drill, baby, drilling!)  Although I had low expectations of President Obama, even I have managed to be disappointed by his inability or unwillingness to exercise leadership on so  many issues that are important to the Democratic base, climate change being just one of them.  I get it that the do-nothing congress has pretty much tied itself to the tracks of history in order to halt any possible Obama achievement for the past two years, but guess what?  That’s why they call it leadership.  You can’t let your political opposition dictate the terms of your agenda, let alone the boundaries of what you’re permitted to talk about.

Here’s hoping that everyone is safe and dry, even if you have to read this blog on your smartphone because you’ve lost your electricity!

11 Comments »

11 Responses to “Hurricanes: another reason to appreciate the high plains desert, until the drought gets too bad.”

  1. Indyanna on 29 Oct 2012 at 8:45 pm #

    Safe, yes; dry, no. I skee-daddled out of the way of the thang late yesterday, but with weather map graphics making the thing look like the blob-that-ate-Canada, there’s really no getting out of the way completely. Here on the western side of the worn down Appalachian stump, I’m hoping it will end with a majestic snow-out. But that much-rumored western, “second,” “winter” storm that was supposed to join up with Sandy and turn it into a cyclonic monster hasn’t even been actually located here in the west, much less energized, accellerated, and launched to the eastward. If this baby was sliding down from about 12,000 feet onto the northeastern part of Colorado, lor-dee, it would be something. But no, we can’t even get a class cancellation notice from the suits over in Hoodumpler Hall. At least there’ll be no subways running around here in the morning, though.

  2. MsMcD on 29 Oct 2012 at 9:15 pm #

    I’m in New Haven, CT. A tiny bit of wind. I still have power, water, no damage, etc.. There are a few trees down and some have lost power, and if you are really close to the coast you may have flooding. But up here at least, it’s not been too bad. We actually walked around during the “peak” of the storm with the dog and the baby. It was beautiful out- slight breeze, no rain. Maybe it skipped over Yale?

  3. Ruth on 29 Oct 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    The worst of the wind has passed Philly now. We are on high ground and don’t even have water in the basement. A lot of branches down, but we still have power. Although there’s some flooding in low lying areas, we seem largely to have dodged a bullet–the rain is not as heavy as first predicted. The serious problems in NY and NJ have been largely from storm surge..

  4. koshembos on 29 Oct 2012 at 9:38 pm #

    Here in the immediate Wash area the damage so far was less than the threats of the weather forecasters on TV. Actually, these TV guys are either lying or ignorant; their information was badly flawed. The city shut down. Government, universities, school, physicians have all closed for at least Monday and Tuesday.

    School is closed, but students’ emails are dry (not cut though). One student even suggested to work on information for mental patients. Have I lost it?

  5. smalltown prof on 30 Oct 2012 at 7:12 am #

    It’s funny that the Republican Convention, and now the last week of the campaign, both have been interrupted by unusually catastrophic storms. Yet the “scientists” of the Republican party repeatedly DENY these storms are related in any way to climate change. Karma.

  6. Tenured Radical on 30 Oct 2012 at 7:54 am #

    Reporting from Brooklyn and posting later today: we have power, water, heat and — most incredibly — interwebz!!!

    Lower Manhattan is a disaster, and I suspect Comrade Physioproffe’s neighborhood is either underwater or suffering the catastrophic effects thereof. Subways down until god knows when: tunnels are filled with sea water. 14th street sub station blew up with 19 workers trapped inside (we saw the flash from here: it was huge), and NYU hospital went down, with its backup generator. When I kickd it in last night, nurses were bagging Peds ICU babies and walking them out into the storm.

    DUMBO completely underwater last night (someone reported on Twitter that the lights were still glowing even though it was submerged) and cars floating on Wall Street, 14th Street, West Street, and Second avenue up by 92nd street.

    More later on Tenured Radical.

  7. Shelley on 30 Oct 2012 at 8:36 am #

    MsMcD: I used to live in New Haven, so enjoyed the weather report.

    The story I tell is based on a drought-ravaged land and an economically devastated time. But both the drought and the post-hurricane mess require, I think, the same grim determination.

  8. Contingent Cassandra on 30 Oct 2012 at 8:44 am #

    It’s surprisingly calm here at an undisclosed location along the east coast (well, undisclosed except for the IP address). My old, usually-noisy windows didn’t even rattle last night, when we apparently had extremely high winds; the wind must have been coming from another direction from the one in which they face (I’m in a big apartment building, with windows in my apartment facing in a single direction, and sheltered from some directions by perpendicular parts of the building). The rain has been regular, but not particularly driving — at least not, once again, from my limited perspective. I suspect we’ve got flooding in the general area (there’s a river nearby), but, for the moment, I’m obeying injunctions not to complicate things by going out and exploring (I’ll probably take a walk this afternoon). My university has been closed for two days, which means I’ve had a much-needed chance to catch up on grading and sleep, for which I’m very grateful, since I badly needed the break, but I’m also feeling guilty given all that others have suffered/are suffering.

  9. truffula on 30 Oct 2012 at 9:13 am #

    Too bad it has to be weather disaster that drifts is into my general area of expertise, geophysical fluid dynamics (and geomrchanics, for the record). Weather forecasting is in fact remarkably good and television/radio meteorologists represent the state of the art pretty well. Reporting about weather events is an entirely different thing. My guess is that people whose homes were on fire this morning don’t think the severity of the disaster was over-hyped.

    I think, Historiann, that it is relatively easy to do nothing about global warming and other sustainability/resilience challenges. Addressing global environmental challenges requires changes that comfortable U.S. people tend not to want to make, from single individuals on up to national government and multinational corporations. Politicians and others with a mind to do so take advantage of that. When it comes to climate, the U.S. is a singular menace both for what we do and what we don’t do. That said, I see a lot going on at the local and regional agency level to at least prepare for the effects of global warming. Farmers of course pay attention to changing climate.

    I do some public speaking about climate, both as it connects with my research and more broadly. The audiences who are the most engaged, informed, making changes in their lives, and advocating in the policy realm are communities of faith. At my public university, students care a lot too but they are so far down the economic ladder that climate, environment, and social justice sometimes seem like luxury concerns. Nevertheless, they strive to make the best choices they can and see the connections between climate change and social justice. There are notable exceptions but my experience in the natural sciences has been that the higher up the academic prestige ladder you go, the more disconnect there is between personal behavior and global challenges, particularly among the faculty. (Relative) wealth and sense of personal economic security may be at work here, even among faculty who see global warming as a problem. It is pretty easy to say “my individual lifestyle is irrelevant compared to the power of government to effect change” and then continue driving alone to work every day while complaining about politicians. (As always, the plural of anecdote is not data.)

  10. Historiann on 30 Oct 2012 at 11:05 am #

    I think you’re right that it’s the pleasure principle: it’s hard to do something, and it’s so much easier and less controversial to do nothing. So, here we are.

    (I will put blame where blame is due, though–Nancy Pelosi delivered the Cap and Trade Bill that Obama wanted in 2010, but it got held up in that model anti-democracy, the U.S. Senate. While under Dem control! So I still blame the Dems, but I don’t blame Obama exclusively. There’s plenty to go around.)

  11. tony grafton on 31 Oct 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Hello from NJ–no power at our house in Princeton, or at thousands more. Street after street is blocked by fallen trees, and many power lines are down. We lost a couple of big trees, one of which came down inches from our bedroom. But it missed, we stayed dry, we can still cook with gas and our land line still works, so we feel lucky. I can’t begin to guess how long it will take to dig us out and get back to New Jersey normal.

    Today I’m at the library, one of the few buildings open on campus. It looks like the Central Line of the London Underground during the Blitz, with laptops.