The National Catholic Review

As this is written schools are still closed, subways are still largely sealed, thousands of New York and New Jersey citizens have had their homes damaged, demolished or washed away.

To some the real question is: What effect will the storm have on the election? Much of the turf that has been swamped is already politically committed to President Obama by history and temperament. But this horrible disaster, which has personally affected every citizen from Florida to Vermont, shoves in our faces two major questions that remain unanswered, and which have enormous impact on the lives of future generations. The first both parties have ignored, the second is implicit in every debate, whether or not spelled out.

The first, broadly speaking is climate change. Nicholas Kristof writes (Nov. 1): “President Obama and Mitt Romney seemed determined not to discuss climate change in this campaign. So thanks to Hurricane Sandy for forcing the issue.” He reminds readers that three of the 10 biggest floods in Lower Manhattan since 1900 have occurred in the last three years and "The New York City Panel on Climate Change has projected that coastal waters may rise by two feel by 2050 and four feet by the end of the century.” Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a levee system to control the ocean flow at three key points. This would cost billions of dollars. Who will pay?

Governor Mitt Romney did make one reference to climate change in his acceptance speech; and his tone was one of scorn. Between promising the “protect the sanctity of life” and accusing President Obama of making “an apology tour” to other nations, he paused and said: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise . . . is to help you and your family.” [emphasis Romney’s]

The second, related to the first, is the relationship between the federal government and the people it governs. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson begins “Romney would pass the buck on disasters.” (Oct 29). He cites a June primary debate in which moderator John King pointed out that he as a reporter had recently visited communities affected by severe weather and noted that the Federal Emergency Management Agency [FEMA] was “about to run out of money.” Some argue, said King, that “the states should take on more of this role.” Romney replied, “Absolutely. Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that’s the right direction. And if you can go further and send it back to the private sector, that’s even better.” Given the national debt, Romney asked, “what are the things we’re doing that we don’t have to do?”

King asks, “Including disaster relief, though?” Romney added that the federal investment would be “immoral” because the cost would increase the debt, which “our kids” would have to pay.

In Robinson’s interpretation Romney was clearly saying that even under the present circumstances of Sandy “the federal government should abdicate the task of responding to natural disasters.” Since Tuesday the broader media have recalled the debate statement that Romney would “privatize FEMA” and pursued it. A long CNN report, “Disaster relief: Obama, Romney differ on federal role,” (Oct 30) reports that Romney “showed little inclination to address the matter” and ignored shouted questions from reporters on whether he supported FEMA’s role in disaster relief. Finally a Romney spokeswoman stated that states should be the first responders, and this “includes help from the federal government and FEMA.” Meanwhile New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie, praised Obama’s response as “outstanding.”

This one issue is morally important because it addresses the question of whether each of us is “an island unto himself,” or a member of an inexorably interlinked interdependent community. I lived for ten years in New Orleans and grew to love it. Katrina should have taught us that everyone from Maine to Seattle is also a citizen of New Orleans, Jersey City, the Jersey Shore, of every city rich or poor in America and entitled to our tax money when they need it. Sandy should drive that message home. If we, as persons or a nation, shirk our responsibility for those who need us no matter where they may live, we will shrivel up and spiritually die.

Raymond A. Schroth, S.J.

Comments

6466379 | 11/2/2012 - 9:42pm
(#10)  Hi Stanley, Celibacy wasn't the problem, Maybe it was me! If every thing is Grace, then celibacy is Grace and millions successfully embrace it. Some cannot and gradually one realizes the truth and as Jesus said, "You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." I was not in the seminary but did spend some years in Religious Life, a wonderful way to serve the Lord and one that I heartily recommend. Glad you like my Posts. I hope our conversations do some good, for how futile it would be to just write into the wind! Thanks for YOUR learned and instructive  Posts. As far as I can see we're done, but will gladly continue if you think it useful. Peace to you and all that's good!
6466379 | 11/2/2012 - 6:11pm
(#4)     Hi Stanley,  I did the ncronline.org which produced publicity for NCR, nothing else. Is there a precise spot where I can find your Global Warming input?
I must say the info  you posted on the AMERICA site while obviously learned was for me at best only peripherally understandable as this dabbler has no serious training in scientific theory. Frankly I'd be happy to be remembered as a Catholic man who knew a little about many things, but not very much about anything!  I do read everything I can get my hands on and do come up at times with theoretical answers  to many things satisfying to me, like my Global Warming presentation, other science stuff, theological assertions which a priest friend told me he likes because I tend to leave the beaten track, writing “outside the box.” I  also do a lot of writing ever since at age 10 when  I had a poem published, and reams of other stuff which in the final analysis may mean a lot to me, but nothing to anyone else. And that’s O.K.

 But I’m best at being husband, parenting of our  three kids  and grand-parenting seven and just befriending anyone and everyone! So if you can clue me in on how to find YOUR writing at NCR, I’d be much appreciative, because I do want to   know more.   Thanks!
Marie Rehbein | 11/2/2012 - 1:52pm
Ed and Stanley,

You both point to the greed behind the lack of effort in addressing global warming, and I agree.  Clearly, the people who run to be elected need to say and do the things that will cause the least disruption to the way we do things or they won't be elected.  Even if everyone believed the truth and understood the mechanisms of global warming, they would still not trust others to produce a solution that would not be at their expense.  This is such a large scale problem that it requires a large scale solution that includes cooperating with those we consider to be either our enemies or our competitors.  Given that our elected officials cannot even cooperate to the point of passing a budget, it appears impossible that they would be able to negotiate with other countries.  Someone needs to figure out how to make addressing global warming look profitable instead of necessary.
Stanley Kopacz | 11/2/2012 - 1:25pm
Marie,

I'm not sure people ever did understand global warming.  They were swayed for years by the general coverage in the media and then they were swayed back by obfuscation and smear campaigns, talk  of hoaxes.  The science is incontrovertible and scary, given our overpopulation and simultaneous diminishment of cheap fuel, and an unhealthy, greed-ravaged economy.I'm not sure that media engines cannot even make us forget Sandy and its aftereffects,
Marie Rehbein | 11/2/2012 - 10:59am
1.  If the reason a candidate wanted to be elected was to be able to address the issue of global warming, he or she would not stand a chance.  This is not just because people do not understand the science of global warming, but because they are suspicious of the motives of people who want to address a problem the effects of which they cannot discern.  However, the size of Hurricane Sandy is an effect of global warming.  Now we can see some of what is in store due to global warming, and it is necessary for our leaders and scientists to explain in plain language how a storm like this results from global warming.  It's not just the frog in the beaker on the hotplate thing anymore.  Then, it is necessary to develop models of things we can do can stop these effects. 

2.  I think it is hilarious in its way to think of the states being responsible for fixing their own problems after a natural disaster, particularly on the scale of this hurricane.  Perhaps, the affected states want to negotiate with my state that has escaped disaster.  They could hire, at inflated prices, the unemployed citizens of my state to help them clean up.  Better yet, a private company could handle the arrangements of bringing the unemployed from one state to work on the cleanup in another and take a big cut of the money it collects to pay investors while stiffing the actual workers.  Brilliant!, Mr. Romney.
Stanley Kopacz | 11/2/2012 - 6:36pm
Bruce, 

That's ok.  Thanks for trying. I don't know how else to get in there. They just changed their webpage and use Disqus to manage their comments.  That could be the problem.  I'll probably repeat my argument here in abridged form when somebody says it's all a hoax.  If I can't convince 'em, I'll bore them to death.  I enjoy your posts here and am happy you have been a good husband, father and grandfather.  That's what counts the most.  Do I remember correctly that you were once in the seminary?  Would you have continued if it wasn't for the mandatory celibacy tradeoff?
ed gleason | 11/2/2012 - 1:19pm
So why is the GOP against the idea of global warming? All I can surmise is they still  want to make money burning dirty coal. When I saw those coal miners, blackened with coal dust, who were forced to stand , unsmiling behind Romney while he hectored,  I wanted to scream.
6466379 | 11/2/2012 - 8:33am
(#2) Hi, Stanley,   Thanks for taking time to respond and explain. I tried to link to your NCR thread, but was unable to link. Can I do so in some other way? When it comes to addressing evidence rooted in physics I’m at a deficit, as I know little to nothing about physics. So, respectful of your knowledge I accept of necessity your evidence, unfortunately with respectful reservation.. Why? Because  being a “prober,” I can’t help but wonder if that evidence is absolutely irrefutable, without the possibility of change or alteration down the pike, or that, like most everything in science  is subject to revision as additional wonders of God’s creative intent come to light. I guess this is applicable to a degree to everything in life.

Rightly or wrongly, to me physical science is like a pot of delectable stew simmering on the investigative fires of human exploration. Its aroma is mouthwatering and some understandably place their faith, hope and love in that delightful scent. As I understand it, physics looks into the stew pot stimulated by what the aroma seems to offer and concludes rightly that the delightful aroma   from the stew is caused by everything in the pot, but then noticing that it has a carrot taste, it means   that the potpourri therein is a carrot-stew, unmindful of all the other ingredients that collectively compete.

Being smart, you probably see the simplistic “limp” in what I said, so in a line let me say, in my uneducated opinion, scientific evidence of today I suggest, becomes the stepping stone of tomorrow, leading in an altogether other direction. I trust evidence until refuted and respectfully, I think there is enough evidence regarding Global Warming that sufficiently calls into question, at least, what many claim  Global Warming means to life on this earth. But really, Stanley, what do I know? Less than nothing compared to you. But enjoy the stew and I do!
    
ed gleason | 11/2/2012 - 9:05pm
Want a clue about coal and global warming? see John Ford's movie 1941 'How Green Is My Valley' Then watch a video of China pollution pre-Olympics. Then turnoff Fox news.
Stanley Kopacz | 11/2/2012 - 10:43am
Bruce,

You can go to www.ncronline.org , go to the eco catholic blog and my comments are under the post on "election2012: why the silence on climate change".  Climate change is based on well established science, established since Joseph Fourier figured out the basics in 1826.  One problem is trying to make the problem comprehensible to most people, especially people who think themselves scientifically challenged.  SInce I'm somebody who thinks anyone can comprehend the basics of physics if properly explained, I try to do so there.  It all starts with why the earth is 66 degrees fahrenheit warmer than the moon, though we're both at the same distance from the sun, and then ends with the fact that only 0ne-twenty-fifth of one percent of the atmosphere is doing that job, 99.5% of which is good old CO2.  IF we squeeze all that CO2 down to sea level, out of all those miles of atmosphere, the layer of CO2 would only be around 9 feet  high.  COmes out to around 800 billion tons.  After absorption by the ocean and organisms, etc, our addition to that comes out to around 11 gigatons per year.  Over a period of 100 years, that means we can double the amount of CO2.  It's not so much that I'm sayng the human race is powerful, but that we're letting a very powerful beast out of its cage.  I don't have any children or grandchildren and even if I live another 24 years to my mother's present age of 88, I will probably not see the worst of it (maybe).  But, I want the human race to prosper and not suffer, even when I'm elsewhere.

Stan
Stanley Kopacz | 11/1/2012 - 9:52pm
Sorry, Bruce, but it's physics.  I have a thread at NCR where I produce a scientific argument which I hope is accessible to the less nerdy.  It is at

 http://www.ncronline.org/blogs/eco-catholic/election-2012-why-quiet-climate

I hope it helps.  I try to show that greenhouse gases are a very small component of the atmosphere but with a very strong effect.   My goal was to communicate with rational procedure.  I don't know if I succeeded.

Unfortunately, without an understanding of the basic mechanisms involved, we end up crawling over the vast amount of data like a fly over the pieta, without a framework for interpretation.

If we ignore physical reality and it's rules, we, or our offspring, will suffer. 
6466379 | 11/1/2012 - 8:53pm
Raymond A. Schroth on “Sandy” tried to be politically neutral, but I think as a convinced Global Warming devotee, he’s pretty much pro-Pres. Obama, at least in this article, and I respect his right to do so, unsure of Gov. Romney’s sincerity on the GW issue. Speaking personally, I’m not convinced of Pres. O’s sincerity on the GW issue, because being with the rest of the herd including Gov. R a ravenous “political animal” they’ll feed on any “chunk of meat” that smells politically inviting and that means anything, even the despicable piece of rot called “character assignation.” Sorry folks, but I’m so nauseated by the hypocritical spew coming from both sides, that I’ve lost faith in the integrity of our political system, at least this time around!  I think I’ll vote for myself!

Now when it comes to Global Warming, there IS something of a “warming” trend afloat, but I don’t see   it as a damaging devil from the pit of hell, hell-bent on destroying  the earth! Six decades ago, back in the ‘50s NYC where I lived experienced long and frigid winters and some called the pattern “Global Cooling.” In those days I remember the Hudson River near West Point about fifty miles from NYC freezing over solid, so solid that people walked across from one side to the other. When normal winter thaws occurred, I remember seeing large chunks of ice floating down the Hudson around Spuyten Duyvil near the 225th St. Bridge which connects northern Manhattan to the beginning of the west Bronx. When the thaw ended the river froze over again And   so it continued through the 50s.

Many scientists believe Global Warming to be a global devastating weather pattern. Just as many scientists believe it is not, simply an inexact  cyclical happening, as do I. Personally speaking I have my own non-scientific way of explain Global Warming vs. Global Cooling. The earth is like  a living breathing organism and when Mother Nature “inhales” the earth “cools.” When Mother Nature “exhales” the earth “warms” with the warmth of the earth from within herself. I can’t prove this “theory” but it satisfies me  and based on my more than eighty years of life on this earth, I feel convinced that sooner rather  than later “Global Cooling” will once again chill-down “Global Warming.”  And so it will go, on and on, probably until Christ comes again, so to speak!