New York, October 15, 2011. R ecall the events of the past summer and Hurricane Irene: Remember how it became the 24/7 total focus of everything?
The entire east coast of the United States was taken in fear by the approaching mega-storm. The news reminded us, relentlessly, of the unmatched power of Mother Nature.
What strikes me now, however, is the complete apathy we display towards the bigger picture regarding our weather. Significant changes in the chemistry of our climate, and key ecosystems, have been established: The NY Times reported in July that some 30% of the global coral reef network is now dead. Reports proliferate: the oceans are increasingly acidic; forests are drying up; the arctic is melting. Mother Nature is telling us something.
Yet we are not listening.
While the newscasters repeated, with adolescent incessancy, the obvious message that "HURRICANES ARE DANGEROUS", not a whisper was uttered about the bigger picture -- the real news: Climate change has arrived. New and extreme conditions are "normal' and we"are just watching passively.
Noted environmental writer Julia Whitty has documented the dramatic weather patterns well in Mother Jones ("The New Normal: Billion Dollar Disasters" -- click here). Citing data from the National Climatic Center (NCDC), Whitty states that "the U.S. has racked up more mega-expensive natural disasters in 2011 than ever before."