Barely 48 hours had passed before Hurricane Sandy’s destructive path across New York City was taken as a sign by the amen corner that global warming is real.
Governor Cuomo cited climate change and voiced the need to change how we do things. (Days later, he modulated his initial assertion by saying that the cause was irrelevant.) The cashier at my local A&P cited “God’s anger” and she also voiced the need for us to change our ways.
Who’s right, Cuomo or the devout cashier?
Truthfully, the planet’s been warming for millennia. The withdrawal of the glaciers formed the Hudson, Harlem and East Rivers, the Palisades and the Long Island Sound.
For me, understanding the cause of this natural disaster isn’t as important as doing what humans do best – adapt and survive – a position that Governor Cuomo has belatedly taken.
Criticizing our political opponents, burning a candle or sacrificing a virgin won’t accomplish much beyond soothing our souls.
For some reason, I’m reminded of my favorite bumper sticker from the 1970s which read, “Jesus Saves. Espo Scores on the Rebound”.
Life is about making the most of second changes.
Today, NYers have a chance to rebound from our losses and collective despair.
Extreme weather has always been a reality. And mankind has always been vulnerable to weather, seismic shifts, and volcanic eruptions as well as each other.
Humanity is always behind the curve. But somehow we rebound, adapt and survive.
Just as surely, New York City will adapt and survive.
Cuomo is right, however, in asserting that we must reform, rethink, and modify our infrastructure.
But the idea of “fortifying” New York harbor against the forces of nature is laughable and full of hubris.
That hubris should have been washed away in Hurricane Sandy’s wake. Pride in our ingenuity in bending nature to our will led New York developers and government planners to landfill and develop areas that once belonged to the rivers flowing off our shores.
Ravaged shorefront bungalow communities that became year-round neighborhoods surely must be phased out because eventually levees and seawalls will be breached by determined wind-whipped waters.
Notwithstanding Governor Cuomo’s and the A&P cashier’s assertions about the cause of our recent weather-related misfortunes, we have a second chance at rebuilding our infrastructure and renewing life.
When I was a young agnostic, a Christian friend asked me what I would do when standing before God on judgment day. I replied, “I heard You were a forgiving God.”
My friend didn’t think much of my answer since I still asked for proof. But even today as a believer, I have faith in an everlasting life that offers redemption and second chances.
We can be forgiven our transgressions against nature and use our rebirth to restore balance between man and nature.
New building and housing codes should mandate solar powered back-up generators for residences, hospitals, wastewater facilities, fueling stations and other important places.
It will cost tens of billions of dollars to do so. But we must make the investment to create greater harmony with our natural environment.
We have a chance to use our second chance and adaptive skills to re-engineer a truly livable and harmonious city.
What are your thoughts about God, climate change and a livable city? Leave a comment.-