Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

New York Was Warned


“Oh Great Lord of the Almighty Dollar”, the panicked voice cried out, its Wall Street owner realizing he was indeed in truly deep-water, “how could you have forsaken your devoted and faithful?” But though this poor soul lifted entreaty after entreaty to what had become his sacred deities — those of Narcissism, Hubris and Greed — reality swept in like the hurricane it was, flooding Wall Street and much around it.

The Ancients knew what happens when one worships false gods, and today many are hopefully learning a lesson long forgotten, forgotten even though the biblical proportions of Sandy’s flooding were predicted a year earlier.

In 2011, a report by New York State upon the impact of climate change had described the potential for the flooding news media have now allowed the world to witness. New York was warned, and even warned again just this September.

In September, an article in The New York Times — ‘New York Is Lagging as Seas and Risks Rise, Critics Warn’ – contained comments by Prof. Klaus Jacob, lead author of the transportation section of the state study, Jacob quoted as observing that if the storm surge from Hurricane Irene had been about a foot higher, “subway tunnels would have flooded, segments of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive and roads along the Hudson River would have turned into rivers, and sections of the commuter rail system would have been impassable or bereft of power”.

Hmmm, it seems Prof. Jacob had the right idea, especially as he went on to note that some of New York City’s (NYC) under-river subway tunnels “would have been unusable for nearly a month, or longer, at an economic loss of about $55 billion”. The study outlined NYC needed to invest between ten and twenty billion to avoid such calamities; though, it didn’t. Not a good decision.

I’ll add that The Times pointedly quoted Jacob as observing he was “disappointed that the political process hasn’t recognized that we’re playing Russian roulette.”

Last year, the activists of Occupy Wall Street filled New York’s financial centre; this year, Mother Nature decided to personally protest. Russian roulette is a dangerous game.
Bloomberg News has reported New York’s subways may indeed “take weeks of work and tens of billions of dollars” to return to full service, and while “limited” subway service has resumed, there’s no date for reopening service using the cross-river tunnels. Then, there’s electric power, not to mention that Manhattan’s electricity is distributed underground, an underground that’s speculated to need days to dry.

I won’t add anything regarding the corrosive effects which the seawater flooding New York will have on electrical equipment. And I certainly won’t dwell upon the ‘human costs’.

Neoliberalism, its Church of the Almighty Dollar, didn’t care about Global Warming – it’s money and business that are important! And so, there’s perhaps a ‘silver lining’ to the money and business ‘Frankenstorm’ so nastily stole, but only if this latest wake-up call isn’t denied, the capacity for denial seeming to be the favorite renewable resource of far too many.

I was born and raised in New York City, and there are times I indeed miss it. I used to fish in Breezy Point, the area where over a hundred homes burnt, and once — as a young man — even worked on Wall Street. Those places people are reading about – they used to be my home. But perhaps more than climate changes, perhaps people change too, and perhaps sometimes in a way that’s as destructive as Sandy has proven.

The uncaring and insatiable greed of some, the wanton destruction across so many levels of society that it’s caused – so much of what was best has been taken from us. Those who cynically (and often selfishly) have dismissed the effects of Global Warming, may well yet succeed in destroying what’s left, the fact that neither Obama nor Romney addressed the issue in debate speaking volumes.

According to an October poll by Pew Research, 85% of Democrats and 48% of Republicans believe in Global Warming. As for the rest, the capacity for denial appears indeed a favorite renewable resource, but, an increasingly and dearly expensive one.

As the very values that defined America changed, as Neoliberalism flourished, many of us have argued the effects of this are as devastating as Sandy’s — though clearly not as easily seen — but what should be evident is what can happen if one is worshiping the wrong things, New York’s devastation well highlighting what comes of it.

Ritt Goldstein is an American investigative political journalist living in Sweden. His work has appeared fairly widely, including in America’s Christian Science Monitor, Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald, Spain’s El Mundo, Austria’s Wiener Zeitung, Hong Kong’s Asia Times, and a number of other global media outlets.

Ritt Goldstein is an American investigative political journalist living in Sweden.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future