STORM’S COM­ING

Popular Science - - CONTENTS -

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.

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