American Climate Change post-Sandy

by Robert Gardner

November 3, 2012

The Rolling Sunlight powering community store

Yesterday was a long day. Its an emotional time and place to be in.

If youve been following our online communications, you know that weve been working with Sandy Relief to assist in the volunteer effort. A big part of that has been powering a community free store in Rockaway Beach with our solar display vehicle the Rolling Sunlight. Also, Greenpeace volunteers have been working hard in the neighborhood to make sure food and water is getting to folks that cant come out to the store.

So, before the thoughts left me, I wanted to take a bit of time to reflect on the lessons Im taking from this and some of the thoughts that Ive had over the past few days.

1) When communities band together, an entirely new model of community is possible. The relief effort has coordinated untold thousands of pounds of food, clothing and daily provisions without bureaucracy, delay and ego largely for free. There is a need to help and therefore people are stepping into those roles and excelling.

2) The United States is no longer insulated from climate change. We are witnessing American climate change. Its happening. Droughts, hurricanes, climate migration, sea level rise these are all inevitabilities within our lifetime. We can curb the worst of it, but not with our current dependence on fossil fuels. This is a warning to us.

3) Income disparities will be heightened. People living paycheck to paycheck will get hurt much worse than those that do not. To come together as a society we must recognize that a very small percentage of people are profiting at the expense of the majority of people and act to prevent it.

4) The way we respond to this storm is a test of our national priorities. We need a democratic electricity grid. We can no longer depend upon large power plants to meet our needs when supercharged storms battering our country. We need policy incentives (feed-in tariffs, tax credits, polluter pays policies) in place to allow people to compete on the electricity grid with fossil fuels and nukes. Every storm shouldnt take out the entire grid.

These are just a few thoughts I have heading out to Rockaway Beach to keep helping out. There is a lot of work to do here and in so many other places throughout the city. We hope to expand. We definitely need more volunteers.

Im headed back out to Rockaway Beach today. There are so many ways for you to get involved. Please do.

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