February 23, 2015

Climate Change Porn: Volatility in Boston

The new reality of climate change: volatility in the environment.  Expect (as we are already seeing) more extremes.  “Global warming” is not just about a gradual and steady increase in temperature; it is about the exceptional becoming more common as energy accumulates in the biosphere and finds sudden expression.

Like this: a report on the New York Times op-ed page that describes some of the consequences from Boston’s ‘slow-motion natural disaster.’

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Boston

 

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We are being devastated by a slow-motion natural disaster of historic proportions. The disaster is eerily quiet. There are no floating bodies or vistas of destroyed homes. But there’s no denying that this is a catastrophe. …  The infamous Blizzard of 1978 brought around 27 inches of snow and shut down the region for a week. In less than a month, we’ve seen more than three times as much snow.Decades of underinvestment and alleged mismanagement of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, known as the T, have meant that the nation’s oldest subway system has been partly or entirely halted for nearly a month. …

… everybody is desperate. We’re all having to spend time and money we don’t have on plowing, car and house repairs, and heating because of the record-low temperatures. People who survive by holding down additional part-time jobs have had to skip those extra shifts.

Businesses have been hammered: Who’s going out to eat, shop or see a movie? How can businesses manufacture and deliver products or arrange deals if their workers just can’t show up? Some companies can let people work from home occasionally, but not every day for a month.…. it’s devastating for state and local governments.
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The City of Boston has spent $35 million on snow removal, more than twice what it had budgeted…. It doesn’t include how much it will cost to repair the devastated roads, sidewalks and bridges that will have been worn away by snow, freezing, salt and rust. Incoming tax revenues will fall because business and personal incomes are down.  …

The snow will melt, eventually. But that will bring more woes. The flooding will hurt the T, ruin roofs and basements and clog roads still more.

It’s snowing as I write this. We’re expecting more, along with freezing rain, this weekend. And the misery won’t end even when it all melts.

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Of course, in the face of catastrophe, we expect human resilience.  Like this – from Mashable:

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