New York is nearly silent today as Hurricane Sandy approaches. Trains, buses and subways have all been closed since yesterday evening, and now several tunnels are shutting down as well. For the past few days there's been a lingering anxiety that is one part over-saturated media coverage and one part fear brought on by the relentless gloom and the palatable low-pressure system.
New Yorkers have been forced to take precautions in ways they never have before because the planet is acting in ways that it never has before. The ocean off of the Atlantic coast is five degrees Fahrenheit warmer than its average October temperature, which loads this storm with more water and draws it further north. Sea levels are rising, too, accelerating the impact of storm surges.
In short: when scientists give warnings about what climate change will mean for those of us who live on the East Coast, this is what they mean.
Right now, 375,000 New Yorkers are displaced from their homes. Some of their neighbors gathered in Times Square to connect the dots between extreme weather like this storm, and climate change. We unfurled a giant climate dot, calling for our leaders and the media to end their silence about the impacts of climate change.
Ending the silence is just the first step—but if there's one thing we learn in disasters like this, it's the incredible feats of goodwill that we can accomplish when people work together to protect our communities. By connecting the dots, we can begin to bring that same kind of energy to building the renewable energy future our planet needs to take on the accelerating crisis of climate change.
Duncan Meisel wrote this article for YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas and practical actions. Duncan is an actions organizer and the social media coordinator for350.org, and lives near one of the predicted flood zones in New York City