Why Weighing Hurricane Sandy Against Climate Change is a Waste of Time

While I’ve not looked into it, I doubt I’m one of the few commentators focused on our future, climate change and business as usual whom avoided talking about Hurricane Sandy in relation to climate change. The reason being that I’m sick of the argument.

Having discussed the wild fires across the globe, freak snow storms, flooding and Yasi in the past, it is painfully obvious that denial is so brazened that it will laugh in the face of disaster to avoid a sudden reflection on risk management. If such events are to become more common, more intense or both, one is naturally drawn to undertake a valid risk assessment and the need to adapt and/or mitigate.

Of course, that would also mean acknowledging climate change to be real and by sheer logical reasoning, all alternatives to a major anthropogenic driving forces would need to be eliminated… One simply must accept that a growth economy that is bound explicitly to greenhouse gas emissions is not only detrimental to our resource supply, it is quite frankly inhumane.

This flies in the face of the theocracy of neo-liberal “free” markets, which effectively makes gluttonous individualism virtuous by renaming it “freedom”. The Orwellian “some are more equal than others” designed to criticise communism has a kindred spirit within modern capitalism that runs along the lines of, “some freedom is more free than others”.

Freedom is necessarily limited. One is only as free as long as they do not infringe on the freedom of others, or so one of the founding mantra’s of the US reads. Disparity being what it is in the US, Australia, the UK and many other “democratic” countries demonstrates a clear infringement to realistic personal freedom, as well as personal health, safety and education (see Wilkinson and Pickett, 2010, The Spirit Level or The Equality Trust).

We seem unable to acknowledge a clear subversion that has developed over the past fifty years within many democratic societies in the name of mindless resource acquisition and accelerating wasting that has occurred within our own homes and working environments. So how on Earth can we expect the most devout to acknowledge more abstract ideas, such as the importance of a few degrees change in the global climate or changes to weather cycles or a step further; how unusually good the Holocene was to our species and the uncharted climates we are now blindly heading into?

In addressing the abstract, we miss the obvious. The obvious is that we still have tyrants exploiting the masses, but instead of being kings, dictators and priests demanding divine rights to excess, it is the quieter quarters within the corporate world where, for the most part, democracy plays little role (choice is left to a select, privileged few – again, refer to The Spirit Level) and the virtue they apply is “freedom”.

Until we can make headway on this insidious behaviour, talking about weather events will have little effect.


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