I’m sure that the thoughts and condolences of Kiwis are with all those in the North American region who have been affected by Sandy, particularly those who have lost family and friends. Like many, I have friends and colleagues in New York and New Jersey who were directly in the storm’s path, and are currently dealing with the aftermath. All the best from far off NZ.
If any good can ever be said to come from a natural disaster, then let the good of Sandy be its function as a clear and present wake up call.
It has been bizarre watching the American presidential campaign unfold, all the while studiously ignoring the elephant in the room – climate change, and the unsustainability of our current “Western life-style”. The environment and climate change didn’t feature in any of the presidential debates, and hasn’t been mentioned in either presidential campaign, because neither candidate wants to confront the issue. Like the government of New Zealand, they have abdicated their responsibility, sweeping climate change under the “too hard” carpet, leaving the world firmly on course for disaster.
By all rights Sandy will have ripped the “too hard” carpet away. Nature has inserted itself into American politics in the most dramatic possible way, and the most politically significant time. All those warnings of increased extreme weather events are now made shockingly real to the American people (and – like it or not – they still set the global political agenda).
It’s a crisis, and it’s an opportunity. Will America heed the wake up call? If it doesn’t, Sandy is just the beginning.