In the pre-hurricane calm before Sandy hits, I am sitting by a window (where I probably don’t want to sit tomorrow), watching the skies darken and thinking of a young man that I’ve known since he was in diapers. After high school, he joined the army and last week, he left to serve in a war zone. All we can do now is pray that he comes back alive, hopefully without his body or mind broken.
They are now saying that 10 million people could lose power from Hurricane Sandy. One of the reasons that may happen is that for decades now, we have done far less than we should to protect our utility grids. Water may be compromised and communications systems too. Some of that would be inevitable with a storm this size, but proper upgrading and maintenance along the way might well have mitigated that.
What few are talking about and which may be a far larger worry is the potential danger to the 16 nuclear power plants that are in harms way. After Fukushima, we should have no illusions that these plants can withstand catastrophic weather. And we should be mindful of the massive amounts of toxic materials that may blow into our water and onto our shores as the storm blows through.
I began by mentioned the young family friend now serving in the military, in a continuing war that serves only to continue to destabilize the world. Yes, there will always be a few that will want to bomb and destroy us, and perhaps they will get away with killing some of us. But no terrorist can ever hope to accomplish what climate changed weather has and most certainly will continue to do when it comes to wreaking havoc and destruction.
Yet throughout this presidential campaign, it has been business as usual with the war talk–why we must use drones and must fight terrorists without even a peep about climate change or the environment.
My young friend is a patriot. He wants to defend the country. Imagine if instead of fighting wars of empire that serve only to destroy and bankrupt, we brought our soldiers home and asked them to help secure our aging and dangerous nuclear plants as best we can? What if we asked them to install solar and wind installations? What if we asked them to help trim trees off power lines and replace aging water pipes and roads. What if we put the formidable force that is the U.S. military to work doing things that would actually protect the country? And if we still wanted to send some of our troops overseas, we could help other nations do the same, making them safer and less likely to hate us.
It is too late for this storm, but how many more times does this need to happen before we finally say no more to business as usual and start using our resources to address the real needs of climate change and stop the destructive foreign policy that drains us of our economic resources, destroys other countries and puts our troops in harms way?