The Sea Eats Miami: It’s Only a Mystery to Marco Rubio

November 20, 2012

It’s Only a Mystery to Marco Rubio…
The Sea Eats Miami

(Counterpunch) After the 1992 super-hurricane Andrew, South Florida was in a state of shock, similar to coastal New Jersey and New York today. Andrew was a compact, category five hurricane. In South Dade where the impact was strongest, the morning after the storm, sun and blue skies prevailed. The strike zone looked like a bomb had gone off.

Civic leaders quickly rallied under the proud banner, “We Will Rebuild”. How would South Florida rebuild? the blue ribbon panel asked. Twenty years later, the coastal areas of New Jersey and New York are facing a similar question after Superstorm Sandy. This time, the answers may be very different.

Twenty years ago in Florida, talk of sea level rise and climate change was in the margins. The subject had a place in the corner, where Chicken Little’s nursed their wounds, far from sight and off the political radar.

In its congratulatory essay on the Obama victory, The New Yorker put the issue startingly in front. The magazine, understandably rattled by the impacts of Sandy, followed bold statements by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The eponymous magazine, Bloomberg Businessweek, instantly put on its Nov. 1 cover, “It’s Global Warming, Stupid”, as though channeling a Clinton era ordering of priorities, largely avoiding global warming, that the former president might wish he could do over.

In Miami in 1992, a segment of the urban planning community proposed that rebuilding South Miami-Dade, hardest hit by the hurricane, ought to be done with care and with an eye toward sustainability, incorporating planned growth in flood plains such as those provided by nearby national parks. Modest plans were drawn up and circulated through well-intended public meetings. Read the rest of this entry »


Hurricane lessons for flu: Common-sense measures can minimize risk

November 5, 2005

On Tuesday, President Bush outlined a $7 billion national pandemic influenza preparedness plan. On Wednesday, the Department of Health and Human Services published backup documentation: It contemplates the costs of a moderate pandemic influenza. Read the rest of this entry »

A third way to name storms

October 25, 2005

Now that the letters of the alphabet have been exhausted in the naming of Atlantic storms, letters of the Greek alphabet will be used to name the remainder of the season’s storms: alpha, beta, comma, ditto, etc. There is a better way.

The ancients gave us enduring understanding of human nature, including hubris—overbearing pride and arrogance. Classical dramatists mined it for tragedy, showing how calamity arises when the reach of powerful kings exceeds a reasonable grasp.

And although hubris seems a long way from hurricanes, maybe it is not far after all to a new, more relevant sequence of letters to name the next hurricanes. Read the rest of this entry »

Bird flu on the horizon

September 22, 2005

As the latest Atlantic hurricane spilled into the Gulf of Mexico, 90 miles to the north, roadways were empty. A little rain fell on a city closed tighter than a drum.

The lucky people of Miami retreated behind walls from fitful gusts of wind, but if the next disaster is pandemic flu there will be no lucky people and nowhere to hide. Read the rest of this entry »

History’s actors catch a cold

September 13, 2005

Areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina look like a bomb went off. And so does the aura of invincibility described in 2004 by a senior Bush White House aide to the New York Times: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. . . . We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Well. We’ve been studying, and the levee just burst on the school term. Read the rest of this entry »

Where do mosquitoes go during hurricanes?

September 8, 2005

Late Sunday afternoon, when the weak side of Hurricane Frances dragged its scudding tail of clouds from the south like a ragged cur, we abandoned the family lockdown and took the dogs for a walk.

We’ve been married 25 years, my wife and I, and one of the accompanying joys of a long relationship is finding new things to talk about.

So I asked my wife, who was wheeling her way around puddles gingerly, trying to avoid the soaked foliage and slipping on the edges: Where do mosquitoes go during a hurricane? Read the rest of this entry »

Look who is shuddering now

September 4, 2005

Horrific. An American city descends into chaos and humanitarian tragedy. Let the finger pointing begin.

Special condemnation is reserved for every elected official or spokesperson—trained by media professionals—who stands before a television camera and fails to answer direct questions from reporters.

Next in line: every reporter who allows an elected official or spokesperson or agency official to get away with evasion, coached by media professionals. The relentless redirecting of questions by interviewers back to talking points, unchallenged in many cases by television personalities, is unacceptable.

And shouldn’t there be a law to ban television “news” channels that collaborate with interviewees—lines of questioning, talking points, and leading questions that default to pre-arranged answers? Read the rest of this entry »