Each day brings more news of the pain lingering in the Greater New York area: more than 100 dead, countless homes and businesses destroyed, tens of thousands of people displaced.
Scientists have been careful about linking the storm itself to global warming; an individual storm can't be linked to long-term climate changes. But scientists haven't hesitated to link Sandy's horrific damage to global warming – and to warn that we'll see more storms like this one in the future, and more damage, because of it.
Too many political leaders aren't facing up to the danger of global warming, cowed by pressure from fossil-fuel business interests and an irrational fear of the fringe right.
Meanwhile, we've delayed upgrading our infrastructure, from storm sewers to the power grid. And we have let development destroy wetlands that help protect low areas from storm surges.
We've become a woefully anti-intellectual nation, lagging behind in education in science, math, engineering, and technology, and literally sneering at science and scientists.
On occasion, we wake up to obvious threats. Most of us recognize the danger of tobacco use, and we've accepted both regulations and taxes to limit it. Tobacco's carnage has taken place one individual death at a time, the pain isolated and private; it shouldn't be hard, then, to grasp the broader threat of global warming.
And yet: In 2005, we saw death and destruction on a massive scale in the Gulf Coast, after years of ignoring both scientific evidence and warnings. We've had evidence and warnings about what could happen on the East Coast, too. But rather than uniting behind the scientists and pushing, at last, for action – rather than insisting that we lead the world in the effort to combat global warming – US political leaders have dawdled and argued, finding a pinhead to dance on, agreeing that change might have happened but questioning humans' role in it.
And so the pain of Sandy lingers in Manhattan and the Rockaways and Red Hook and Staten Island. And we wait for the next storm.
This week's print edition headed to press before polls closed on Tuesday, but we'll have plenty of election coverage on our website, rochestercitynewspaper.com. Join us there.
Our City publishing family lost an important member late last month with the death of our former circulation manager, Bill Harter.
Bill was a lively, funny, influential, creative, fascinating, and adorable member of our staff from 1979 to 1991. A wiry, gray-haired, pony-tailed retired Postal Service worker, Bill learned the needs and quirks of our business quickly. He wrestled with postal regulations, made sure that our circulation grew, and made sure that our newsstand distribution was effective and efficient.
He was endlessly patient, not only with our staff and customers but with successive groups of teenagers who, in that pre-computerized period, helped with circulation duties. And his non-work interests were as zany and wonderful as he was: Old cars. Flying (not surprising for a former World War II fighter pilot). Roller coasters (the object of many trips). Downhill skiing (including a stint on the Ski Patrol). The Rolling Stones (leading to his winning – to great shouts from the staff here – a trip to a Stones concert in England, in a local radio contest).
He was a devoted family man – and a devoted member of our City staff, keeping in touch long after he moved to Florida, e-mailing from there and stopping by to visit when he was back in town.
Bill left a hole in our staff when he moved away from Rochester. And his death has left a great big hole in our hearts.