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Monday, November 05, 2012
What Climate-Driven Hurricane Sandy Teaches About Cooperation
2012 may well be remembered as the year the climate crisis got real. Superstorm Sandy followed a summer of record-breaking heat, wildfires, and droughts, during which more than half of U.S. counties were declared disaster zones. We may at last be to a point where we can all agree that it's time to tackle the climate crisis.
But there’s another issue that Sandy raises. Climate models suggest we'll be facing similar disasters with increasing frequency. So will we, as neighbors and as a nation, come to the aid of those who lose their home, business, or farm because of flood, drought, fire, or other climate-related disaster? Are we a country that comes together in hard times, or do we come apart? In other words, when things get tough, do we turn to each other? Or do we turn on each other? The answer to these questions will define much about how we live together as we face increasing climate weirdness in coming decades.
First signs out of the hardest-hit areas are positive. As so often happens in disasters, ordinary people acted heroically when they saw a way to help. Belle Harbor residents grabbed surfboards to rescue themselves and neighbors from storm surges and a fire that flattened sections of their community. In lower Manhattan, a real estate broker kept his office open during the storm, with a generator and hot coffee so neighbors could charge their cell phones and first responders could get out of the wind and rain. A local pizza place served up free slices to cold and hungry customers the day after the storm. And families in Hoboken who still had electricity set out tables for neighbors , with coffee pots and power strips for cell phone charging.