Of course, lives have been destroyed, defeated and even terminated in disastrous floods, hurricanes and tropical storms in both Texas and Florida, in the last couple of weeks.
And while the media coverage, including the drenched and leaning reporters, clinging to whatever they could find for support, was “wall to wall,” the failure of the major networks in the U.S. to dedicate even a few minutes in the 24-7 news cycle to the larger, more pressing and deeply troubling impact of global warming and climate change on the severity of these storms is deplorable.
The Virginia legislature has even passed a law forbidding the words global warming and climate change to be used in their chambers, replacing them with “recurrent floods” in their vain attempt to minimize both public fear and the predictable political winds of opposition, in the face of little to no action to address the issue. The city of Miami Beach has already begun to elevate their streets in anticipation of the rising ocean waters, resulting from global warming and climate change. According to Jeff Goodell, author of The Water will Come, appearing on MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes tonight, the city of Miami is spending some $500 million in pumps and engineering to raise the city’s elevation, in an attempt to avert more disasters like the one from Irma. An expert from Texas Tech’s research arm into the impact of global warming and climate change, being interviewed on CBC’s The National, last night, told anyone listening that two-thirds of the world’s cities are not more than one meter above sea level, a piece of information that ought to be causing a political “storm surge” of monumental proportions in capitals around the world. NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predicts an 8-foot rise in sea levels by 2100.
When then Secretary of State, John Kerry, told the world that the greatest threat to national security comes from the impact of global warming and climate change, some Republicans even called for his immediate resignation. And yet, military bases in Florida this morning, have already been “decommissioned” by the recent invasion of Irma, without a word of reporting from the major American networks. And, given the number and size of the hundreds of military bases built and occupied by American forces around the world, one has to wonder about their relative and respective threat levels from the impact of human activity on the rising temperatures, melting ice caps and predictable rise in ocean levels.
New York city, for example, is in serious danger of being negatively impacted by the rise in the Atlantic, from the underground services like hydro, electrical, subway and road facilities that are all below sea level and which together serve several million people every day. New Orleans has yet to recover fully from the impact of Katrina; Houston, in spite of the heroic efforts to raise money to rebuild, could be years getting back to a new “normal” that will have to include recognition and full consideration of the location and the danger of additional storms on such a low-level urban area. Miami, too could take years to recover and to rebuild, even with a substantial injection of national cash from Washington. The Florida Keys, St. Martin, and other Caribbean Islands too will take considerable cash and determination to restore lives to something akin to their former state prior to Irma….and Jose is already on the horizon.
Reports that back in the 18th century, there was very little or what we now know as urban development in southwest Florida, yet through ingenuity, engineering, and the irrepressible motive to make a “buck” a whole civilization has been built on what is actually a flood plain. Not surprisingly, a flood plain will inevitably and eventually be again covered with water.
So there are many longer term questions raising their heads in the aftermath of these storms. Among them:
· When is the current American administration going to awaken to the science that global warming and climate change is and will continue to vacuum billions of dollars in the pursuit of avoiding damage that is, to put it bluntly, unavoidable?
· When will local and provincial politicians finally refuse to grant building permits to developers for proposals to be constructed on flood plains?
· When will the North American political culture detach from the enmeshing and entrapping perspective that each daily headline is the only report worth chasing in the pursuit of re-election?
· When will the political class disengage in its obsequious sycophancy to both individuals and corporations that seek to “buy” their votes to enhance the opportunities to seek only profit, without recognizing and respecting the “public good”?
· When will indigenous peoples’ perspective on time and history begin to supplant the sabotaging myopic nano-second view of what is important that characterizes contemporary corporate culture?
· Will doctoral research projects begin to examine in detail the impact of the last twenty or thirty years of North America political agendas, with a view to comparing these miniscule accomplishments with those of both Roman and Greek empires at the peak of their energies?
· How long will it take for ordinary people to finally open the windows of their abodes and cry out, “We are mad as hell and we will not put up with this madness any longer?”