The 104-story tower being constructed at One World Trade Center will be the cornerstone of the new, rebuilt World Trade Center complex. But it isn't done yet, and something about the construction on top -- the cranes, or the scaffolding, or the sort of cloth stuff that they put around the scaffolding, I don't know construction words -- caused it to make a spooky noise in rising pre-hurricane winds.
For days after Sandy passed, people with canisters in hand have been lining up outside of gas stations to get their share of the limited fuel supply. With the power grid down, backup gas generators have been keeping the power on for some families. It's not a great system -- it's dirty, it's inefficient, it involves waiting on gas lines for hours -- but for most people, it's the best option. But there are a couple of examples around the city where people have rigged up a better alternative: solar generators.
The solar industry's Solar One, SolarCity, and Consolidated Solar are leading the Solar Sandy Project -- an effort to get at least a few solar generators out on the streets of New York. They already had two 10-kilowatt generators up before the weekend, one in Staten Island and one in Rockaway Beach, and last we heard they were aiming to get three more up by the end of Sunday. Ten kilowatts isn't a huge amount of power, but it's more than enough to give people a place to charge their phones, power their tools, use their laptops, and heat up food, the companies say.
When seeking frivolity in the face of tragedy, one need go no further than The New York Times’ Thursday Styles section, where, last week, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, several women stepped out from the rubble to lament that the storm had caused them to gain weight.
As reported by the Times, here are the experiences of three New York women upon whom the disaster visited the horrible misfortune called "The Sandy Five":
“I can’t even talk about it -- my jeans do not button,” said Emily Marnell, 31, a publicist who cited both boredom and anxiety as a reason she fell victim to odd, middle-school-kid cravings for junk food after her Gramercy Park apartment went dark. “I went through Duane Reade and was grabbing Double Stuf Oreos, whole milk, Twix, Twizzlers, Sour Patch Kids,” she recalled in horror.
"The progress is unacceptable," Cuomo said at a press conference. "To say that I am angry, to say that I am frustrated, disappointed, would be the understatement of the decade."
All of the state's utilities who have powerless customers, he suggested -- Con Ed, the Long Island Power Authority, the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation (NYSEG), and Orange & Rockland -- could be in for a rude awakening after cleanup is over.
"I promise the people of this state that they will be held accountable for their lack of performance," he added. "These are not God-given monopolies. I will review all of them."
In hopes of avoiding a “Hurricane Cassandra” (yet another wake-up call that we simply ignore, as Joe Romm fears) and moving us closer to a Cuyahoga -- the name of the river in Ohio that caught fire in 1969 and set the stage for our major national environmental laws -- I’m doing my part to pull something productive from the wreckage.
Seeking lessons for communicating about extreme weather in the context of climate change, I plumb the storm’s names and nicknames for useful and memorable takeaways.
It was days before Halloween and Hurricane Sandy was something of a hybrid -- and thus arose the sensational, not-so-cute nickname Frankenstorm. But as KC Golden and others have pointed out, Frankenstorm carries deeper meaning. Sandy, and any extreme weather event “juiced” by a warming climate, was part natural force, and part human-made creation.
In fact, the name Frankenstorm gives us a really simple way to remember how to talk about the climate science of extreme weather: In a climate warmed by emissions from burning fossil fuels, weather is now always part natural force and part human-made creation. What’s scary is that we are seeing weather extremes that are increasingly monstrous -- more powerful, destructive, and deadly.
Superstorm Sandy -- and its revival of the issue of climate change, most prominently through Michael Bloomberg's sudden endorsement -- probably aided Obama's reelection victory last night. But at the same time, there has been a vast debate about the true nature of the storm's connections to global warming (as well as plenty of denialism regarding those connections). In fact, there has even been the suggestion, by cognitive linguist George Lakoff, that if we all stopped thinking about causation as something direct (I pushed him, he fell) and rather as something systemic (indirect, probabilistic), then we really could say with full accuracy that global warming caused Sandy. Systemically.
Following this debate, I've been struck by the strong impression that people are making things too complicated. Here's the simple truth: Leaving aside questions of systemic causation -- and sidestepping probabilities, loaded dice, atmospheres on steroids, and so on -- we can nevertheless say that global warming made Sandy directly and unmistakably worse, because of its contribution to sea-level rise.
"I keep telling people the one lock you have here is sea-level rise," meteorologist Scott Mandia explained to me recently. "It's the one thing that absolutely made the storm worse that you can't wiggle out of."
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, all of the critical pieces of equipment were burning gasoline or diesel fuel: the pumps removing water from flooded basements and subway tunnels, the generators providing electricity to hospitals and businesses, and the cars, trucks and aircraft providing mobility.
The Sierra Club and its allies on the green left will doubtless continue their decades-long war on the oil and gas industry, but the Sandy disaster-response efforts are showing again that there is no substitute for oil.
There are a few hundred other words, but there's really not much point in reading them.
One of the hardest-hit areas of New York City is the Rockaways, a thin peninsula of land that faces out into the Atlantic Ocean. Usually, public transit users can take the subway over a long bridge that cuts straight from the main bit of Brooklyn, but post-Sandy, that's just not happening. But the MTA is working on a solution and it involves flying subway cars.
Let me start by acknowledging that there is enormous need in the wake of hurristorm Sandy. Staten Island, New Jersey, Long Island, the Rockaways. There is a lot to do, a ton to clean up, thousands displaced and struggling.
That said: Ugh.
ExxonMobil continues to work to support distribution of gasoline and fuel throughout the area affected by Hurricane Sandy and is donating $1 million to the American Red Cross for disaster relief assistance in New York, New Jersey and the Caribbean.
“Hurricane Sandy has had a devastating impact on people and communities along the east coast and in the Caribbean,” said Andrew W. Madden, vice president of supply and transportation, ExxonMobil Refining & Supply Company. “It’s our hope that ExxonMobil’s donation to the Red Cross will help provide comfort to those affected and help people rebuild their lives as quickly as possible.”
This is from a public relations statement from (obviously) ExxonMobil. It starts by assuring everyone that it is still selling gasoline so don't worry about that, oh, and also it is donating to the Red Cross. $1 million -- or 0.01 percent of its after-tax profits from 2011. Which, to put it in perspective, would be like someone who made $50,000 after taxes giving $5. Or, to more accurately put it in perspective, it would be like someone who makes $50,000 after taxes giving $5 after spending decades causing pollution that almost certainly made the storm far, far worse than it otherwise would have been. "Yeah, that's not my fault, but here's $5. Oh, and, also? If you want to pollute more, we're selling the stuff that lets you do that."
There is now consensus among computer models that a strong fall Nor’easter will begin forming election night and then move up the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast coast Wednesday and Thursday. ...
[F]rom the North Carolina Outer Banks to the shores of New England, it’s becoming more certain that the storm will whip up high seas and gusty winds, leading to a new round of coastal flooding and beach erosion on the heels of Superstorm Sandy -- though not as severe.
I mean, that's the standard? "Coastal flooding and beach erosion -- but don't worry, less than the biggest hurricane in history that killed all those people." Oh, whew.