FOR MORE THAN A CENTURY, scholars worldwide have held up “cellar door” as the most elegant sounding phrase in the English language. It’s OK, but I prefer “storm’s coming”—not just on the merits of its implied drawl and languidly silent G, but because of the image it elicits: air so pregnant with action that you feel the swelling wind seeping into your ears. It’s awe-inspiring.
On October 29, 2012, I was in San Francisco on business while my wife rode out a terrifying storm in our Brooklyn apartment. As we checked in over the phone, she asked, “Did you hear that?” She was referring to a crashing boom that, yes, I had heard. Soon after, the call cut out, and for the next six hours, the only contact I had with New York was a series of texted photos from a close friend on Staten Island: floodwaters climbing his home’s stairs nearly as fast as he could ascend.
Hurricane Sandy was unlike any violent storm New York City had experienced. My first morning home I rode my bicycle through the darkened, signalless Manhattan streets, amazed to see the world’s greatest city felled by wind and water. This tempest was on a new level. The scientific community agrees.
Ninety-seven percent of the world’s climatologists concur that the planet is getting warmer. And that it’s our fault. With this worldwide fever will come furious weather events we haven’t yet endured and that are only going to get worse. But that’s not cause for despair. We can live in this new world—as long as we don’t remain ignorant. And that’s the point of this issue: to shine honest light on our changed conditions, and to inspire us to meet their challenges with clear eyes.
Storm’s coming. A beautiful phrase. Here’s another: Bring it.