Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

Union Beach, NJ, Saturday, November 24, 2012. To many people in New Jersey and New York hurricane Sandy is a bad memory. To those living in Union Beach, New Jersey, a working class community on Raritan Bay, it’s an ever-present nightmare, one that I experienced first-hand as a volunteer helping homeowners to clean up the mess they call home.

When I arrived in Union Beach on Saturday morning I was astonished to see how many volunteers where there to help. And I was told that it’s the same every weekend. Whether they were men, women, teens or seniors, they came ready to work and to go home dirty.

This is my work-group. It was assembled by a progressive advocacy organization called BlueWaveNj, which is headquartered in Montclair. See below for contact information.

To volunteer for Sandy clean-up call (201) 247-4668 or email info@bluewavenj.org.

I was also astonished to see how much work still needs to get done. First floors are a shambles and debris is piled everywhere. In the two houses my group worked on we removed water damaged sheetrock, still-soaked insulation, hardwood floors, paneling and a couple of unusable toilets.

This is the first of two houses our group worked on.

Piles of debris such as this litter many of the streets of Union Beach.

While helping one homeowner get a new boiler out of his car, he pointed to a 20-odd ft. boat sitting on blocks in his back yard. He said that storm surge water lifted that boat to the height of an upper story window where he was able to hang on to it as it slammed against his house. Without doubt there are many stories like that in this ravaged town, but the overarching story is that lots of people who used to feel secure about where they live don’t feel like that any longer. Sandy is a bad memory that just won’t go away.

FEMA is on the case.

Food tents serve hot food to both volunteers and homeowners.

Enough said…

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The Discovery of Global Warming

Image via Wikipedia

This was written in early 2005. It is as relevant today as it was then.

I was recently in Florida for a couple of days. During the trip I had lunch with two people of the evangelical/Republican persuasion. Inevitably, the conversation turned toward the recent presidential election (Bush 2). Because I like to frustrate myself, I made the point that I would have voted against George Bush even if Iraq hadn’t happened, arguing that his environmental, economic and civil rights records were more than enough to convince me he was bad for America. They were, not surprisingly, uncomfortable with this heresy, but I pressed on. I voiced my concern about global warming and what it might mean for my children and their children. Unimpressed, one of my two luncheon companions reminded me that she was a Christian woman, and that I was wrong for not putting more faith in God. She reminded me that if the world was going to come to an end, then it was God’s will.

I thought better of mentioning it at the time, but what she said reminded me of three song titles: “Don’t worry, be happy”; “What will be, will be”; and that perennial favorite, “I feel better when I outsource to God any personal responsibility that I might have for future generations.”

That evening I had dinner with someone of a similar mind. She is a nice woman who described herself as a “believer,” and did so often. We, too, discussed the election and, not being too bright, I shared with her my luncheon conversation in between the entre and dessert. She listened quietly. When I suggested that it was irresponsible for America not to take steps to reduce greenhouse emissions to protect future generations, she continued to listen quietly. So, with that sign of encouragement, I foolishly pressed on: Believing that God is going to solve the world’s problems is okay, I said, but when those beliefs influence America’s policies, they must become part of the national political debate. Seemed pretty reasonable to me.

Then we finished our coffee in silence and quietly left the restaurant.