All truths, to some extent, are inconvenient. Living in a reality filled with prospects that never dim is a cute thought. Unfortunately, the responsible thing to do with age is absorb the facts as they present themselves, and then look at what the future will be- or importantly, should be. Hurricane Sandy was by definition an inconvenient truth. So was the utterly insane 2005-06 hurricane season, put up in conventional wisdom as an aberration. When several million people sit around without power with trees blown all over the neighborhood, it prompts the question of how the hell we ended up in this mess.
The preparedness of state and municipal governments, as well as citizens themselves, is obviously key. Hurricane Katrina did not kill a thousand people by sure destructive force. Rather there was shoddy engineering, shoddy planning, and after the fact, shoddy accountability. The underlying reality stands stark; no matter what steps are taken towards individual weather events, the aggregate is worsening. Decades of reckless pollution and startling increases in various greenhouse gases has come home to roost.
A global economic system that for most of its history ignored the externalities of industry; and let them cast off harmful byproducts at a grand cost of not a single penny. Only the hopelessly naive would think that the world would continue ticking, stoic and unchanging from year to year. At some point, the decisions governments, multinationals, and individuals make cull themselves together and slug us right in the face. Some people may be able to ignore it longer than others, but the changes to the Earth's climate are now widespread and increasingly devastating. Unceasing heat caused drought and large crop failures in the Midwestern United States. Even with all the machinery, latest crop hybrids, and government money, it was no match. As an interviewed Iowa farmer said, it was simply too hot for corn to grow. Foot riots, sometimes deadly, have broken out in dozens of countries since 2007, and there is only a matter of time before the United States can no longer suppress high staple prices. Record flooding was recorded on the Mississippi last year. Summers bring killer heat waves to Europe, winters huge blizzards that seem to strike more unlikely locations by the year.
The Maldives have begun purchasing land in surrounding countries, as rising sea levels could possibly put the entire population of over 300,000 under water. The political situation is discouraging in light of rather dire disaster escalation.
Not a single Republican in the Senate thinks climate change is man-made. The Copenhagen summits were fruitless, with industrializing nations teaming up with United States business interests to make sure any goals are voluntary; and even voluntary ones were unambitious. Climate change is more complex than trade, land, and war. War is not reversible, but it can end at any moment with the right conditions and skillful diplomacy. You can't call an armistice with global warming. If we all threw down our instruments of pollution, shuttered the factories and banned the cars, the present atmospheric CO2 level is far, far beyond the maximum safe limit.
The blame game is a great way to dodge responsibility until your term is up and you rejoin the private sector, but it's not a practical solution to grave international problems. The popular strategy of business-friendly politicians and the industries that would have to do some work, namely complete and total denialism, is increasingly showing itself to be a façade. At some point there has to be a new paradigm. Courage and leadership, mostly absent minus a few heads of tropical states, are so far not in vogue.
My generation will see a revolution. For my grandparents, it was technological. For my parents, it was political. My generation will see a coming together, or a crumbling apart. As the always-astute Benjamin Franklin once said to his colleagues "We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately."