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Sandy Broke the Ice: Let’s Go with the Flow

By Bob Lawson

Superstorm Sandy raised the seas, shattering records for storm surge and wave heights on the Mid-Atlantic Coast. Sandy brought record-breaking rainfall. Sandy produced the lowest atmospheric pressure ever recorded in the North Atlantic. And Sandy broke the ice. I refer to the icy silence that has surrounded the largest elephant that has ever been placed in the room- climate change. It is mind-boggling that we just finished a presidential election where climate change was completely absent from the conversation.

But things change when disaster strikes in one’s own backyard. It was easy for Chris Christie to be a climate skeptic a few months back when the record heat, drought and wildfires of our changing climate were far away in the West. But when an unprecedented ‘Frankenstorm’ suddenly devastated his coastline, the New Jersey governor changed his tune to ‘’climate change is real.” Similarly, when Mayor Bloomberg saw floodwaters rushing through lower Manhattan, inundating tunnels and subways, he became the first major political figure to endorse a presidential candidate on the basis of that candidate’s acceptance of climate truth. The ice is breaking at last.

And it’s about time. At this point, when every National Academy of Science in the world and 98% of climatologists are in consensus, I don’t think a layperson has the right to blithely say, “I don’t believe in climate change.” Religion is something one can choose to believe in, but science is science. We can’t conveniently accept science as we board an airplane, but then reject it when it tells us something we don’t want to hear. We can’t turn our backs on physics when it tells us that we are putting too much carbon into the atmosphere and that we need to retool our fossil fuel economy. At this point, the so-called ‘debate’ on climate is mostly a few contrarians in Big Oil-funded think tanks planting the seeds of doubt. Indeed, some of the primary voices behind Big Oil’s mis-information campaign are guys who started their careers as spokesmen for Big Tobacco. Are they really who we want to trust with our future? Given the evidence we have today, any person who fails to accept the scientific consensus is simply in denial and needs to wake up.

The ice is breaking. But we need a flow. If the WWII generation is dubbed The Greatest Generation, what will we be called? If we don’t deal with the problem of climate change now, in a hundred years, people will be asking only one question: “How did they screw this up? The Arctic was melting; why didn’t they act?”

If our generation has any ‘greatness’, we need to channel it into immediate political action through groups like Other ‘Sandys’, droughts and floods are on the way, and while our actions will not prevent them in the short term, concerted action is essential for our long-term future. The prescription is clear and easy: Get off fossil fuels. It’s the accomplishing that’s hard. It can’t be done by a few individuals changing their light bulbs and carpooling. It will take collective action through the political process to change the system and the infrastructure.

And that’s where we come in. The fossil fuel companies are using their enormous wealth to lobby, confuse and delay. They will not sit idly by while we make them obsolete. Who will stop them if it isn’t us? It’s got to be us, the grassroots, the next Greatest Generation that makes it happen. The ice has broken. It’s time to act. Go to Join ConcordCAN. Get involved! The time is now.

Bob Lawson is a Concord resident and member of the ConcordCAN Steering Group.