By Marvin Goldman
I watched with horror as the scenes of destruction of my old New York played across my TV screen in the days following Hurricane Sandy. I have fond memories of my youth spent in many of the places that now seem like some sort of nightmare.
Many is the time I’d play on the now-destroyed beaches of western Long Island, the Rockaways, Brighton Beach and Coney Island. My sister brought up most of her family on the New Jersey shore, now so terribly mangled by the storm.
All my youth I depended on the subway to get anywhere, and it is inconceivable to me that so many of the underground lines were submerged in water. Although they were back in action shortly, only now are we realizing that Sandy was not just a hundred-year storm. It was a prelude of what we will all face in the future.
Global warming is slowly raising all the seas, warming the waters and thus charging the environment with increasing energy to produce more and larger weather crises. It is sad to hear the complaints of those who blame others for not preventing the storm losses, while not believing the scientific data that now makes it all so clear.
I’ve spent years studying and lecturing on climate change and energy risks, and I even was co-director of our National Institute of Global Environmental Change.
Then and now, I felt that I was whistling in the wind, that I was a voice in the wilderness trying to make people miserable. I don’t know why so many people fear hearing scientific information, just because they may not understand all of what’s being said, or because we all hate hearing about bad things to come.
They talk of building sea walls and massive dikes to protect New York’s extensive shorelines. Already, a few Pacific Islands have disappeared beneath the sea. I guess we could have a massive jobs program as we wall ourselves in from the encroaching oceans, but there are limits to what we can do on that score.
I am saddened by the massive losses in an area so close to my heart and more saddened by knowing that most people think this was merely a freak of nature and that they had nothing to do with its happening. I fear that Sandy has many more sisters we have yet to meet.
— Marvin Goldman is a professor emeritus at UC Davis and a longtime Davis resident.