Constituent policy

Five important political reminders after a stormy week

Line technicians, contractors and shaft specialists were in high demand following Ian’s impact. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

North Carolina endured the wrath of another powerful hurricane last week. And while that may bring little comfort to those who have lost their homes, businesses or, in a few tragic cases, loved ones, overall the situation could have been much worse. One only has to look at the devastation Ian inflicted on Southwest Florida to remember what these storms can produce and how lucky we have been in comparison.

And indeed, although life goes on for most North Carolinians while barely missing a beat, it would be a huge mistake not to take a minute or two to reflect on some of the powerful reminders that Hurricane Ian has books. Here are five that stand out:

1 – First, the growing urgency of the global climate emergency. Yes, hurricanes and other severe storms have long plagued many parts of the world, including the southeastern United States, but the science is absolutely clear: our warming planet and rising seas are making these disasters more frequent and more intense. Indeed, hurricanes like Ian are part of what has become the inexorable disappearance of barrier islands, wetlands and other coastal areas around the world.

And sadly, while there is no magic solution to this sobering situation, it is also clear that to salvage what we can and avoid massive and hugely destructive global disruption, humanity must phase out the use of fossil fuels and move to a carbon neutral environment. economically as quickly as possible. And while using market forces to facilitate this transition is an obvious priority, ultimately the urgency of the situation demands that elected leaders take whatever action is necessary, including granting large public sustainable energy subsidies of the type long sprinkled on the fossil fuel industry.

2 – Ian also provided the latest in a long line of reminders about the need to strengthen and improve public infrastructure and resilience. In some places, this means relatively obvious (but by no means simple or inexpensive) actions such as modernizing and improving basic public structures such as the electricity grid, water and sewage pipes, transportation and communication and emergency response networks. In many others, however, it means making difficult but badly needed choices about the planned removal of extremely vulnerable coastal areas and floodplains.

And in many other places, it simply means recognizing the reality that life will be different and will require increased investment in a variety of other basic public structures. Last weekend, for example, the city of Raleigh managed to organize a large and successful music festival attended by thousands of people from all over the world which had long been planned as an outdoor event. And the only reason the show went on was the foresight city leaders showed many years ago when they built (over the frantic objections of the local political right) a first-class convention center that easily absorbed the crowds.

3 – Long-term planning and patience are more important than ever. In the 21st century, Americans live in a society of instant gratification in which we expect quick answers to our problems and our needs, but the stark reality of the climate emergency is that much of what we do is at benefit of future generations. That’s not to say we shouldn’t demand immediate action – it’s actually essential – but a big part of that necessary immediate action is ultimately about doing all we can to reduce the likelihood of more hurricanes from categories 4 and 5 (as well as floods, droughts, intense heat waves and crippling ice storms) in 2042 and 2062.

4 – Partisanship should have no place in disaster response and relief. It was one of former President Donald Trump’s many great sins that he sought on more than one occasion to punish state and local officials whom he perceived to be critics of distribute disaster relief to their constituents. Fortunately and to his great credit, however, this is a practice that President Joe Biden quickly abandoned. His declared commitment hours after the storm left to do everything in its power to help the State of Florida – the home of a governor who refuses climate change who attacks him personally at every opportunity – was just the latest example of this honorable approach in action.

5 – We are all in the same boat. While it is true that the poor here and around the world are the group most likely to be on the front lines of the global environmental crisis (as well as the least positioned to avoid its worst impacts and the most likely to become refugees climatic conditions), the hard truth is that almost no one will be spared in the decades to come. millionaires who lost their homes on posh Sanibel Island in Florida last weekto the comfortable commuters of the coming decades who will see their way of life negatively affected by product shortages, rising prices, inclement weather, and increased societal unrest brought on by mass migration, there will be no way out hide from climate change.

One can only hope and pray that last week’s storm has awakened many millions more Americans to this sad truth.