Posts Tagged ‘ climate change ’

Looking Forward to Post-Sandy Humanity in a Second Obama Administration (OPINION)

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

The editors of Parents.com have been reporting on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we chose three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them offered a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)

By Sharon Lerner

The moment has finally arrived and, as with all much-anticipated events, Election Day isn’t what I once imagined it would be. Way back when this race was first getting going, it seemed like we election watchers would stay singularly obsessed with the race to the end. It almost seemed like time would stop on November 6.

But, as with all points on the timeline, the Big Day brought with it a new future, as well as present that wasn’t quite what I expected. I still desperately want Obama to win, of course. I’m already glued to the battleground election results. And I can’t stop checking Nate Silver’s blog, which, as of this writing, puts Obama’s chance of winning at 90.9 percent.

But it’s perhaps because of my faith in Silver that I’m already looking ahead. And there in the post-election tomorrow I see not just a country where we don’t have to discuss legitimate rape, Paul Ryan’s abs, or the idea that 47 percent of the country really doesn’t matter. I see a country where people care for and about the needy in a new way.

No doubt, a large part of this is Hurricane Sandy. While this may be just another election day in parts of the country less affected by the storm, here in the New York area, things are still decidedly not back to normal. Thousands of people are still without power, homes. Food and fuel are scarce. And another storm is on its way.

The beautiful thing, the compelling thing that can’t help but push the election to the back burner once you witness it, is the kind, humane and authentic response real people have to the disaster. All around me, neighbors and friends have jumped in to help, collecting coats, blankets, warm food. During the worst of the storm, a home health aide made her way against all odds from the Bronx to Brooklyn to care for my dying father-in-law. After making her way back through our ailing transit system to her own family, she called to check on him.

Sandy is, of course, a wake-up call about the importance of climate change and the size of government, FEMA in particular. But it’s also a reminder of the ties that bind us to one another and how, despite the ugliness of this election season, they have turned a nation of little folks overshadowed by politicians into one where the actual people clearly matter more.

The impulse to look out for one another is so much more compelling than anything either candidate has said, it’s made the past few months of bickering and lies seem even more heartbreaking than it actually was. Looking at the people lined up at my polling place, waiting for hours to cast their ballots, I’m heartened that, despite everything — the storm, the meanspiritedness, the endless political ads — people remember what really matters.

So on this Election Day, I’m getting on that long line and looking forward to a second Obama administration that, I truly hope, will honor and support the real needs of real people.

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The Wake-Up After the Quiet After the Storm (OPINION)

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we’ve chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)

By Sharon Lerner

I’m feeling grateful for having power, Internet access, a dry place to sleep. But even in what may be one of the least superstorm-affected houses in Brooklyn, things are not yet back to normal — especially from the kids’ perspective. The Halloween parade was cancelled. School has yet to re-open. Whenever someone calls from out of town, my boys hasten to share the terrible news that lodged itself in their uncomprehending brains: that two young people right near us were killed by a falling tree.

People talk about the calm before the storm. But, strange and upsetting as Sandy was, there’s also been a calm after this storm. Shaken free from our routine, we’ve been operating in a quiet bubble in our house, finding comfort in unlikely playdates, checker games, baking experiments.

We’ve also been enjoying a reprieve, if a short-lived one, from the election. I know I’m not alone when I say that the race between “Bronco Bamma” and Mitt Romney was getting a little, er, wearying. (I admit I had moment of irrational fear that I had somehow magically caused the storm by screaming “Make them stop!” over and over during the last debate.)

But as I watched the sun shine over my leaf-strewn street this morning, it hit me that it’s time to wake up from the quiet after the storm. Given that the mere mention of political ads and “five-point plans” had become literally nauseating in the weeks before Sandy, it was a pleasant surprise to realize that I am not only ready to glance at the poll numbers today but also alive with a new urgency to fight to make sure Obama wins this race.

This coming Tuesday — THIS COMING TUESDAY! — is election day. And if Sandy left me with nothing else of value, it’s that this contest matters in a life-and-death way. The natural disaster brought two issues into sharp focus: the size of government and climate change. Both are issues that deeply affect children — and, at least when it comes to climate change, our children’s children, and their children’s children. And both are issues on which the political candidates have starkly different, potentially world-altering positions.

Mitt Romney, of course, believes in shrinking government. He’s made this clear with health care, which he promises to restore to its former state of dysfunction. He also believes in small government when it comes the safety net — or rather the elimination of benefits on which poor families depend.

And — try telling this to the child being rescued in this picture — he even believes in whittling down the government when it comes to disaster management. At least that’s how it seemed during the Republican primary, when he said he favors shutting down the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Wednesday, he came out with another position on the matter, which as Rachel Maddow points out, raises its own questions.

And then there’s climate change. Neither candidate has given enough attention to the issue. But Romney does far worse than ignore it, going so far as to mock  President Obama’s environmental efforts at the Republican National Convention.

Not surprisingly, his actual positions on the very serious matter of our climate are hard to pin down, as the Washington Post’s Brad Plumer notes. In front of some crowds, he says that he believes climate change is real and that humans have a role in it. While in front of others, like this one at a town hall meeting, he says essentially the opposite:

Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”

“What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.”

I’m searching for a word that means the opposite of leadership now. Flip-flopping doesn’t quite do it. Pathetic politicking? Slithering?

Whatever you call it, ignoring climate change, as Romney would likely do if he were elected, would no doubt lead to only more of the catastrophic weather events like the one we just experienced. It would mean devastation for the planet our children and grandchildren will inherit. And, at least while he’d be at the helm, it would mean also getting less federal help during those disasters.

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