hurricane sandy

I’m a little concerned at the particular way in which we’ve all been watching the news, trolling every weather site for new photos and videos of sensational storm coverage. Though initially it comes from a place of concern and awareness, it can also border on selfish– as if we’re using serious damage and danger for entertainment. I know it’s “exciting” to be in the middle of things—I felt the same way, with the whole country’s attention on New York (to which I’ve recently relocated)… Receiving text messages and emails of concern every five minutes from friends and family around the world is actually quite touching, and shows genuine care in a way that we don’t often grant one another.

But when I step back and check myself, I realize that to continue watching dramatic mass-media news from a place of fascinated pornographic greed seems excessive, wrong, and unjust. As if we’re doing “our part” by gluing our eyes to the weather channel and marveling the destruction. Why did nobody (including me) pay this level of attention– or even know– when Sandy hit Cuba (see photo below)? And where are the practical articles telling us what we can do to help with the relief efforts, or how we can raise awareness about climate change and extreme weather for the upcoming elections?

hurricane in Cuba

There are important lessons to be learned from this type of extreme weather. For one thing, nature is not a force to be reckoned with. It’s been a long time since the phrase “climate change” has appeared on the national stage, but maybe it’s time to reignite discussions? With the recent presidential debates completely skipping over the topic, and no mention of it in the otherwise robust news coverage of the hurricane, I wonder how we went from being climate-obsessed to climate-indifferent?

Take me for example: I organized around climate change non-stop in college… I encouraged people to reduce, reuse, and recycle at every chance I got, and constantly worried about my fellow global citizens who stood to be most affected by climate change and extreme weather. Now that it’s here, I realize that not only am I no longer an activist… I literally don’t even think about climate change. I still recycle, when possible, and moved to New York so I wouldn’t have to be car-reliant, but come on! I eat meat, fly thoughtlessly, and consume products with greater frequency than I ever have. Where has my climate consciousness gone??

I am now focusing on praying for the safety of those most vulnerable: the homeless, the sick, the old, the displaced. A little less TV, but a little more tuning in. Here’s hoping that although it’s been fun for a day for the privileged (being cozy inside, with an excuse to watch movies, binge eat, and catch up on writing), the weather will ease up and life can go back to normal for those living in shelters and the folks working overtime (news reporters included!) to ensure our systems are up and running. I personally resolve to be a bit more climate-conscious in the upcoming year… and to voice this to the congress(wo)men elected to represent me! For more on climate justice, and to stay up to date on important issues, read my friend and former classmate Monica’s blog here: http://climatemigrants.wordpress.com/.


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