Monday, 29 October 2012

The Revenge of Nature: the Closure of Wall Street

The world media is aghast at the prospect that Hurricane Sandy, the storm that killed 66 people in the Caribbean last week (nearly all of them poor and largely unnoticed by the world) is today combining with an Atlantic cold front to create the so-called FRANKENSTORM, a great two thousand mile weather force that is expected to hit the eastern seaboard of the USA in the next few hours.

It is to be hoped that the carnage in the West Indies is not repeated, although two lives have already been lost. Hundreds of thousands of people are seeking shelter, including tens of thousands of homeless people on the streets and in the tunnels of New York, which is in the centre of the storm's likely path. As well as 100 mph winds, a huge tidal surge is likely to bring floods of water far inland, and it is this which seems the most threatening element.

Climate scientists have long warned that global warming is already bringing more and more powerful changes in the weather. It is not purely about increasing temperatures, but about extremes: this summer saw the ice melt from the Arctic reach new record-breaking levels - and now a cold front from the Arctic is hitting a warm front from the Jet stream to produce what may be a record breaking "weather event" as the US media likes to title these things. It has been called Frankenstorm because it is close to Halloween, yet the unintentional irony is that, like Frankenstein, human actions may well have driven the life-force that is our biosphere towards this violent revenge on us, its unwitting but very culpable creators.

The storm has grabbed the world's attention because it is about to strike some of the wealthiest districts of the richest nation on earth - while hoping harm is minimalised, we can also hope that awareness is maximised: awareness of how human activity is driving climate patterns towards ever greater hostility towards our species and our way of life; awareness of how it is the poor - swept away in the tropical storms of last week and possibly washed away in the storm drains of tonight - who bear the brunt of the impact of climate change, but only for now.

And awareness, above all, that money can't buy our way out of this; wealth can shield the richest from the tempest for only so long before they like everyone else are swept aside by Nature's revenge on our wasteful, polluting ways, where profit-seeking has trampled and exploited the environment towards exhaustion, deeply disturbing the delicate balance that allows us to exist on Planet Earth.

Tonight, the US Stock Exchange has suspended business as climate overwhelms capitalism. The pompous, self-titled Masters of the Universe are impotent before Neptune's Rage; and Wall Street is closed.


  1. Headline news around the world


    At the bottom LH corner of the page

    'Millions face starvation in Africa due to Global Warming; see page 17'.

    OK, I made the above all up; I don't imagine the starving in Africa would get a mention on any page

  2. Indeed - similarly the earlier victims of the hurricane. Or of other natural disasters like the floods in Bangladesh, equally a product of climate change but largely ignored by our media.