I live 24 miles from mid-town Manhattan as the crow flies, the center of the world, where the action never stops, and the lights never dim. Yet in my corner of NJ, where most people live in single family homes with front and back yards, mature trees, several cars in the driveway and multiple TV’s in the house, time has stopped for thousands, and the lights have not only dimmed, but they are out! For many, power has been off for more than 4 days, food in refrigerators and freezers has spoiled, schools have been closed now for 3 days, and Halloween was even cancelled!
So, take a moment around your dinner table tonight and discuss the “precariousness of our lives” with the kids in your life. While we ponder in this country if climate change is real, if Kim Kardashian ever meant to stay married, and if David Arquette should have been booted off Dancing with the Stars should we not also consider who will fix our aging infrastructure and ensure that the lights and power stay on? I know it migh seem kind of mundane but if we don’t start making a “fuss” who will? We need to tell our government officals that we do expect them to “put people to work” and that a good idea might be getting people to rebuilding our out of date infrastructure so we can withstand and mitigate the damages of these “freak” storms that “from where I sit” seem to be happening with increasing regularity and intensity. Even Fox news, which isn’t always the most supportive or forthcoming with climate change facts, ran a segment on November 1st that discusses a study linking extreme weather to climate change.
In a Bergen County, New Jersey newspaper the Governor of NJ is quoted as follows: “ The last time I asked someone at the utilities about this, they estimated the costs of putting all the wires underground at about $1 million a mile. Now, here’s what I want to ask the citizens of New Jersey – do you want to pay for that?” My answer Governor, confirm your $$ with the utilities, and probably yes!
Also Governor Christie, while you are at it, can you ask some of the many people who work for you to figure out how much my municipal, school, county and state taxes go up with each passing storm and ensuing clean up? As well, my home insurance continues to mount as damage costs of storm clean ups from around the country are passed on to me. I would like to compare these costs to more permanent and secure fixes and one option in the tool box might be the buried electrical wires that you mention. We need to start somewhere planning for a future that includes a changing climate and more extreme weather and rather than just putting on Band-Aids, why not begin with buried cables?
This is my rant…so please excuse me while I lament our country’s failing bridges, roadways, electrical grids, water treatment and power plants, as well as the fact that more Americans are out of work then at any time since the great depression. I’sn’t it time to be bold and create our own American “Marshall” plan? Shouldn’t we be “connecting the dots” and not burying our heads in the sand and begin doing something like burying power cables instead?
I will be in DC this weekend, where I have drawn my line in the sand on an infrastructure project that doesn’t put very many people to work, and that perpetuates our reliance and addiction to fossil fuels. Check out the Tar Sands Action site for more information and stay tuned next week for my overview of the event. Look for “live tweets” on November 6th as well!