As a lifelong resident of the U.S. eastern seaboard until moving to Singapore a few weeks ago, I took the early reports about Hurricane Sandy in stride. After all, this was hurricane season, we usually have some sort of weather event on the East Coast. Besides, I hadn’t been glued to CNN or any other Western-focused news outlet; I had been watching the news and events of my new surroundings in Southeast Asia.
Then people here in Singapore starting tell me they were so sorry for what was happening in the U.S. Alarmed, I started Skyping and emailing family and friends and checking the newscasts. Sure enough, I was wrong to tune out. Soon my daughter would be fleeing her apartment in Brooklyn for safer ground; a college friend in lower Manhattan lost power as we Skyped. The deadly “superstorm” was to wash away much of my childhood stomping grounds on the Jersey Shore, and has my adopted hometown of Boston feeling like it dodged a bullet but may not be so lucky next time. (A friend from high school, Kevin Coyne, a journalist who teaches at Columbia, wrote a moving piece on the storm’s aftermath here).
This was a week before the presidential election. Up until then, the issue of climate change and what to do about it never came up in the three presidential debates, nor the vice presidential debate, nor the campaign in general. This despite 2012 seeing one of the hottest summers and worst droughts on record, leading to deadly wildfires and crop damage that cost the American economy billions of dollars. Continue reading