The storm that ripped through the region this week, wreaking havoc on the Jersey shore, crippling New York’s transit system, and throwing nearly all of us into darkness, is being described as a “freak.” But as the number of severe weather events and weather-related disasters continues to rise, Sandy seemed less like a freak than the new normal.
In the midst of the disaster, the only politics that matter are the politics of mutual assistance. President Obama and Gov. Romney, Gov. Christie, and Mayor Bloomberg agreed to put party politics aside as they deal with the storm and its aftermath.
At some point, however, Sandy and its fellow storms will have political repercussions. Municipalities will have to determine spending and planning priorities, deciding what fixes to the infrastructure are necessary to alleviate the impact of the next storm, and the next. Budget decisions will be made to address the humanitarian impact of the destruction.
Politicians must — and soon — turn to the obvious impact of climate change on the ways we behave, build, and invest. Anyone who dismisses the science of climate change as a conspiracy or an anti-capitalist plot is not paying attention to the enormous economic impact of ignoring the obvious. Neither presidential candidate, either out of political conviction or political expediency, has had much to say on the topic on the campaign trail. It is incumbent on whoever wins next Tuesday’s election to face facts and shape policy in ways that address the enormous changes we have wrought.
In the meantime, victims of Sandy need assistance. The Jewish Federations of North America has launched the JFNA Hurricane Relief Fund for recovery and rebuilding. An on-line donation form is available at jfeds.org/SandyRelief. Donors may also send checks to the Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Indicate “JFNA Hurricane Relief Fund” on all checks or in the on-line designation box.