God, climate change and New York City


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.-

About SquarePegDem

A former state legislator turned NY Post editorial board member, thought-leader, public affairs consultant and commentator, columnist and blogger. Michael has appeared on Al Jazeera America Tonight, NY1/Inside City Hall, FoxNews.com LIVE, YNN/Capital Tonight, The Brian Lehrer Show, The Fred Dicker Show, The Capitol Press Room, and The Daily Show. His op-eds have appeared in the NY Post, City and State, The Legislative Gazette, Bronx Times, The Troy Record, Buffalo News, and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. To schedule speaking engagements, email MBenjamin9@optimum.net.
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One Response to God, climate change and New York City

  1. Dale Benjamin Drakeford says:

    Your thoughts on global warming have a partner here. Likewise with Puerto Rico Statehood being a matter for bi-partisan quick participation in public discourse. We certainly seem to share being products of our naturing and nurturing (from school days to neighborhood experiences). Perhaps we have more to share as per my latest blog below:

    AFTERMATH TIED IN GRAY
    11-9-12
    Dale Benjamin Drakeford

    As I station switched and mysteriously came to Bounce (where I never connected before) to watch Bird (the Clint Eastwood master work before his brain leaked gray matter cells) I had a thought on “Miss Miller,” my 7th Grade General Science teacher who did her all to make me recall everything I learned in 5th Grade Science. I had “Miss Miller” again in 9th Grade Biology (at JHS 136) and in 10th Grade Chemistry (if memory serves correctly) at Theodore Roosevelt High School. Like “Miss Shannon” and “Miss Itkin” (at PS 54) she worked tirelessly to get stuff back into my head that I was determined to have leak. Like Mr. Goldberg (by elementary school Assistant Principal) and music teachers Sidney Glickman (JHS) and Jack Cohen (HS) and countless-nameless others, she made it uncomfortable for me to abandon my seat or responsibility as a student. She was never scary like “Mr. Shapiro” my Regents History teacher and Guidance Counselor, but somehow intimidating in a firm stay-on-task kind of way. Anything that I allowed to leak, therefore, had the consequence of being plugged—and folks like “Mr. Shapiro” made that appropriately unpleasant. These educators had the difficult job of nurturing a reluctant student-citizen and had to constantly negotiate the tenuous ground of truth and consequences because I was constantly mixing the good with the bad.

    Post Hurricane Sandy and Election Day November 6 we have the good and the bad. While it is true we have the likes of gun totting maniacs at gas stations and opportunistic looters, it is also true we have thousands of marathoners that have put their disappointment and personal loss aside for the greater loss of so many Sandy victims. They are proof positive that while human-beings are dynamic natural phenomena, they are also nurtured civilians of righteous purpose. While it is discouraging to hear of people sleeping in their cars on East 233rd Street in the Bronx so that they will not lose their place on a gas line (providing scary proof that humans are addicted to that dinosaur fuel the way preschoolers are to the computer terminal) instead of getting in line to provide subsistence to our neighbors on East 105th Street in Brooklyn trying not to sleep on wet mattresses, we are encouraged by Dwayne Wade donating a game’s pay because he knew from the get-go that the game should not have been in play. While it is true that the downside of human nature surfaced in the first week of November 2012, it is also true that the upside rose in greater number.

    Good over evil has always been the case. History has taught us that Good (with the capital G) is sometimes delayed, diverted, distracted, disorganized to lay in wait, but it will always show. That is why the human species is equipped to sustain indefinitely-certainly longer than the dinosaur. In my new working title, Dinosaurs Should Have Gone To School, I make that point. We need not wait for that tongue-in-cheek creative companion. The proof of difference is obvious: We are here, they are not. We are here because Good (with the capital G) always leaks in.

    Something leaked into America the first week of November 2012. It had little to do with Hurricane Sandy or the nor’easter that followed. Elected officials were reminded that people were more important than events. Politicians were reminded that being nice does not mean being efficient (e.g., odd-even hectic gas days and police displaced to supervise stations should have been a passing thought in favor of emergency and commercial vehicles only worthy of service until ground lifestyles were stabilized). Eliot Engel was reminded that re-election does not mean support for his “For-Profit Education” vote. Linda McMahon learned what leaking $100 million can and cannot buy (e.g., wrestler babes that can turn impressionable youth into expression enticing freaks more than senate seats) and her opponent Chris Murphy learned that six years of incompetence pays “1 million in tax dollars” and a super ad by a wrestler babe to forever document it. While Murphy leaked a well deserved critique of congressional mystique his colleague Paul Ryan leaked victory grins (because he and his clubber pals refuse to outlaw running for two offices at the same time) and citizens of the red, white, blue, gray and grey lay woefully silent on this.

    Paul Ryan’s running mate showed greater integrity. Mitt Romney leaked proper political class. He continued the long fine tradition many thought would bite the dust in this political era of self-serving reverse psychology, and was humble and gracious in defeat. Hence, the national election (with its disturbing and insulting months of disservice) is done, but the battle for the proper use of our national, state and local resources is not. Obama learned that sometimes you get what you ask for and what citizens must ask for now is caring guardianship over our resources. What citizens must demand is an elected membership that works for the people and the nation, not for itself. What citizens must demonstrate is energy to hold citizens accountable for what the elected do or don’t do.

    Citizens must remember the wrong-headed that spew their deceit under the disguise of intellect. Case in point is Linda Chevez of the New York Post that wrongly predicted a Romney win writing, “…it’s what Obama hasn’t accomplished in the last four years that will make the difference…” (11-3-12, p. 24). The problem with supposed journalists such as Chevez is that they are actually opinion panderers hoping to convince and influence. There is nothing journalistic about them and citizens must be continuously aware of their printed poison designed to advance their agenda. They are far more dangerous than the talking heads of say Sean Hannity and James Carville that we already understand are biased personalities. I suppose citizens tune in to them, not for the content, but for the entertainment. They are akin to ugly wrestler babes, but Chevez and the like are akin to connivers without full disclosure. They are masked crusaders and hidden purpose persuaders. Citizens must unmask them as surely as they must have the energy to unmask the elected that choose to elect stalemate over compromise by and for the people. For example, the Democrat Majority Leader of the senate complains that he had to work around “248 filibuster threats” from the Republicans but he failed to insist that those threats actually be carried out by the minority members of his chamber. He failed to put them on the front page each and every time he suspected stalemate over progress or defeat over victory as a kind of referendum to accept hurt as long as the other side does not get pleasure. This is contrary to the very idea of the American Republic where argumentation leads to society advancing decisions. Citizens must not allow this attitude to continue.

    Michael Benjamin of the New York Post right-headedly predicted an Obama win even before he clearly documented “The yellow journalism,” of some of his colleagues. Charles Blow of the New York Times did likewise writing to present with the substance of facts, “Among those believers that Obama will win were most independents and almost a fifth of Republicans…I cast my lot with those folks unless there is a seismic shift in the next few days,” (11-3-12, p. A23). The seismic shift happened long ago when supposed journalists stopped paying attention to objective polls and when some started creating their own out of the dingy grey.

    The dingy mysterious grey caped Florida as a surprising non-factor in the presidential election of 2012 and no one saw that strangeness happening. No one saw that Ryan’s Wyoming was more interested in him returning as a congressperson than as a VP. No one thought for sure that New Hampshire (where Romney owns a home and spends quality time), Michigan (where Romney grew up) and Massachusetts (where Romney served as governor) would all give a clear majority vote to the president. That is why even the objective talking heads thought in part it would be close, but the grey in all these states made it more than close—they made it historical, critical, analytical and evident that independent thought still lives healthy in America. I suspected as such and hence my prediction of it not being so close at all . The gray watched and all indication of those who knew Biden best (in Delaware and Pennsylvania) and who knew Obama best (in Hawaii and Illinois) would reward them (and they did). The gray and the grey (of whatever shade) understood that this administration had to execute in an atmosphere of unprecedented mockery and sabotage. Not since another president from Illinois was so unfairly lambasted have this nation allowed a division of unfounded cynicism and criticism. The gray and the grey (of whatever stripe) recognized not only this, but also how well the administration performed with the new abnormal (and still holds out the hope that if even the old normal of petty bickering could return so much more would be accomplished for all the people by the people).

    Post national election 2012, the H2O, bacteria, germs, molecules, enzymes and leadership of Barack Hussein Obama fills the executive chair of the United States of America. The independent gray and grey took and spoke wisely on his behalf. A few million deliberated within their micro-organisms and became a singular voice of decision-making. There work is not done. Obama said as much himself. “You have done a great job,” he said to all listening at 1:50 AM November 7 (New York time) “but your work is still not done.” Beginning with this day there is something more that must leak into America. Correct that, gush into America. The chair is never empty my fifth grade science lesson taught and what must gush from it is:

    1) Transparency of exactly how our tax dollars are spent before the fact and exactly from where support dollars for candidates come, and in what amounts.
    2) Elimination of the antiquated electoral college and an amendment to establish true one vote power for each citizen.
    3) Elimination of the perk for the elected clubbers to run for more than one office at the same time.
    4) Consistency in providing for all citizens equally regardless of House of Representatives, Senate or housewife status when it comes to Social Security and Health Insurance (even if it has some politically charged name association such as “socialism or communism” attached to it).
    5) Legislation to establish term limits on congress to clearly demonstrate that elected public service is just that, not a career (that corrupts and contaminates absolutely).
    6) Assessment to determine the necessity of so many local politicians (given nepotism, abuse of public funds, disservice, self-service) and outlawing the official status of such jobs as “part time” which allows elected persons to put their serious energy elsewhere.
    7) Energy to force opposing legislators to find fair compromise.
    8) Assertive behavior to protect and defend our military personnel with decent pay and personal benefits as opposed to the tomfoolery of public hypes as if that is compensation enough).
    9) Aggressive behavior to educate about the real threat of global warming and the real business to support and finance research to neutralize and perhaps reverse the damage we have already done to our planetary home.
    10) Consideration of the value of Third Party candidates and the need to encourage Third Party parity with the entrenched Two-Party Clubbers (which I first called for as a Y2K cornerstone in A Political Education Life Arts Project: A Civil Tongue With A Festival of Expressions.
    11) Seeking of a law to outlaw in-service elected members from campaigning, but requiring competitors in campaign mode to present their alternative plans in detail in refute of the incumbent when they challenge the positions of the same and allow incumbents to only answer the charges while at the same time defending their record, philosophy and actions. Why? It is simply ridiculous to expect quality public service when people are constantly seeking re-election and they do so with rhetoric and unsubstantiated accusations.
    12) Evaluation of the status of Puerto Rico (that for the first time selected “Statehood” over commonwealth or independence) and do so as an indication of more cooperation across party lines to resolve important issues.

    If you agree, tell me so, but more important tell your elected official so. Forever may the gray and grey matter of the independent thinker wave.

    Support America, Wave-A-Flag
    Sincerely, I am
    Dale Benjamin Drakeford
    Dale Benjamin Drakeford

    Like

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