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“THE MANDATE OF HEAVEN” October 30, 2012

Posted by wmmbb in Global Warming (climate change), US Politics.
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Days before US General Election, as the rulers allocate more money of war and empire to make the country strong and respected, and as a storm of unprecedented size and ferocity takes form off the eastern seaboard, it seems appropriate to reflect on the “mandate of heaven”.

One hopes, first and foremost, that deaths and damage will be kept to the minimum. The hurricane has already caused 66 deaths, 51 of those in Haiti, and the remainder in Cuba and Jamaica. Last year, Hurricane Irene seems from all accounts to run out of steam, but it was the largest storm since Hurricane Ike in 2008. I was amazed to learn the cost of damage amounted to $15.8 billion. It seemed to have avoided New York and impacted the Vermont mountains.

This would appear to be a far larger storm, so the costs could be considerable. Hurricane Sandy is said to 520 miles in diameter, and it has been captured by the Arctic Jet Stream, which has intensified its’ potential effects including sea surges, snowfalls and flooding. The New York Times has an interactive tracking map.

James Barron and Brain Stelter report in The New York Times:

Forecasters say the storm is on a scale that weather historians say has little precedent along the East Coast. Landfall is predicted on Monday night somewhere between central New Jersey and southern Delaware. But most of the eastern United States will feel Hurricane Sandy’s effects, making the exact landfall spot less important than the overall trajectory.

“One of the biggest storms of our lifetimes is unfolding right now,” the anchor Kelly Cass said as The Weather Channel started its fourth day of nonstop coverage.

Hurricane-force winds extend up to 175 miles from the center of the storm; tropical-storm-force winds extend up to 485 miles from the center. This means that portions of the coast between Virginia and Massachusetts will feel hurricane-force winds as the storm moves toward land, according to forecasters. Winds of tropical-storm force could stretch all the way north to Canada and all the way west to the Great Lakes, where flood warnings were issued on Sunday.

Some states expected snow, with blizzard warnings issued for mountainous stretches of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.

Officials warned that the powerful surge the storm was creating in the ocean, combined with the strong winds, could wreak destruction in the Northeast for days. As many as 10 million people were expected to lose electricity as Hurricane Sandy toppled trees and light poles and ripped down power lines.

That is the straight dope, leavened by the final thought from:

Noah Lynk, a maritime engineer, was part of a standby crew stationed at the Cherry Branch Ferry Terminal. He said the level of flooding in the area was typical of a strong northeaster or offshore hurricane.

“When they come real close like this, most people go out surfing,” he said. “Unfortunately for us we have to work.”

Bill McKibben does not ignore the issue of climate change:

Watching Sandy on her careening path toward the Eastern Seaboard scares me more than it would have 15 months ago. That’s because my home state took the brunt of Irene, last year’s “sprawling,” “surly,” “record-breaking” Atlantic storm. I know now exactly how much power a warm sea can contain and how far that pain can spread.

And in the process, feeling that fear, I begin to sense what the future may be like, as more and more of the world finds itself facing ever-more-frequent assaults from the amped-up forces of the not-so-natural world.

Our relationship to the world around us is shifting as fast as that world is shifting.

You can’t, as the climate-change deniers love to say, blame any particular hurricane on global warming. They’re born, as they always have been, when a tropical wave launches off the African coast and heads out into the open ocean. But when that ocean is hot—and at the moment sea surface temperatures off the Northeast are five degrees higher than normal—a storm like Sandy can lurch north longer and stronger, drawing huge quantities of moisture into its clouds, and then dumping them ashore.

But that is not all. The implications go beyond ramifications of the fossil fuel industry, and its political clout. There are said to be 16 Oil Refineries and 16 nuclear power stations in the path of the storm. A Fukushima-like scenario is possible. According to the report on Democracy Now, if on site power is lost, cooling of the nuclear fuels by pumping water is dependent on diesel pumps. Many of the fuel pools have not been cooled.

As the Chinese saying implies natural disasters and man-made disasters are judgments on the Government. The focus now has left the presidential contest and now centred on the President. Public services are tested. So far, for example, Cuba, has come off more lightly from this storm than Haiti, which is not to minimize the human tragedy there, and I suspect if there were to be widespread damage in North America the problems of Haiti may be ignored.

However, it is notable that Mitt Romney is on the record – if that is anyway meaningful – as suggesting the disaster services should be the responsibility of the states, and ideally the private sector. Simply the lunacy of ideology gone mad. He expressed his views, via The Huffington Post:

I wonder though about the blame sharing, in the event of a widespread emergency, and people start noticing that some National Guard units are serving in Afghanistan.

ELSEWHERE:

In The New York Times, the Editorial argues for sound policy proposing that large scale disasters require centralized control to coordinate and oversee resource allocation and assistance.

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