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Alex Diaz
Alex Diaz

Seizing the hurricane Sandy moment to tell it like it is

This is my Sandy statement. It is told in the Up with Chris Hayes video shared below, and I encourage you to see it, share it, and make it yours as well.

It speaks of the perplexing and, as Sandy has made clear, life-threatening inability to launch any sensible discussion about climate change in this country, the country we like to call the greatest on Earth. May I suggest we refrain from claiming such a lofty title as long as we remain stuck in this collective schizophrenia that is putting the entire planet at risk.

When a crisis this real and deep isn't even mentioned in three presidential debates, and one vice presidential, we know we're suffering from a debilitating social and political disease. Perhaps even a terminal one, if we don't awaken from this coma on time.

Chris focused on the duty of our government to do something about climate if only to fulfill its responsibility for our safety. Seeing the wrenching images of the human suffering caused by Sandy, you may also want to view this in far more compassionate terms. And beyond those two levels, look at it as a society of intelligent people who simply listen to the overwhelming consensus among scientists, who are telling us at the top of their voices that things will get unthinkably worse than Sandy unless we halt carbon emissions and start bringing them down sharply after 2020, barely eight years from now.

No matter how you choose to approach climate change, that's the endgame we must produce. It begins by openly acknowledging the science and by rushing vigorously and urgently to the solutions at hand, which by the way, are clearly known and ready to go. No studies needed. Just action.

And not just on climate. On resource and biodiversity depletion as well, a crisis just as daunting and which coincides precisely with the 2020 deadline.

There is no time to waste. Let's seize the Sandy moment to spark the action needed, careful that we not get lost in needless and time consuming debate at this late stage of the game.

So tell it like it is to your friends and neighbors. Persuade, persuade and persuade some more. Do not relent. Become far more a part of the solution, knowing that post-Sandy, passivity and silence are part of the problem.

And as you persuade your inner circle, inspire them as well. Inspire them with the vision of the society we can have courtesy of the solutions to the climate and resource crisis, a society that values truth, that stands up for what is right, that promotes simplicity and sharing over excessive consumerism, renewable energy over fossil fuels, walking and mass transit over needless driving in gas guzzling cars -- in sum, a society that will be sustainable far into the future, not one that is threatened in the not-so-distant future.

The stakes are high. The choice is stark. As Chris says, the time has come to take sides. So which one are you on?

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The real issue in this case is irresponsible land use. Look at the FEMA flood zone maps. The hardest hit areas were mapped as high-risk flood zones - lower Manhattan, Red Hook, Breezy Point, Coney Island, Jersey shore. Politicians and land developers are irresponsibly encouraging development of high-risk areas. Mayor Bloomberg earlier said, “People pay more, generally, to be closer to the water.†( http://www.villagevoice.com/2012-10-31/news/flood-zone-nyc/ ) The aerial views of the barrier islands along the New Jersey coast look like a carpet of homes on sand dunes in the ocean, which is about what they were. Barrier islands are prone to flooding and move over time. We already spend tax money just pumping sand back onto the beaches every year, fighting nature and damaging ecosystems. Now we have to pay to rebuild vacation homes and replace all the big gas-guzzling motor boats piled in the road. But I digress. As we increase urbanization and remove natural buffers like wetlands through development, we reduce natural barriers to flooding. Add to that increased development of high-risk areas and we have a recipe for disaster. Superstorm Sandy may or may not have been attributable to climate change. It’s tough to pin any one storm on climate change. Certainly, one aspect of climate change is increasing storm intensity and other unusual weather patterns. Sea level rise is not to blame at this point. In any case, even if everybody in the world stopped driving cars today, we’d still have climate change and long, long time. It does nto goa way overnight. Worrying about car emissions is great, but it’s not going to solve our flooding problems now. The real issue is sensible land use and planning. Not sexy and feel-good as green technology but reality. Regardless of climate change or not, people need to think about where and how they live.

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