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2013 as Year Zero for Us -- and Our Planet

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Environment and Climate Resource Center page and our Organic Transitions page.

In weather terms, 2012 in New York City began for me with crocuses.  On an early February day in a week in which the temperature hit 60 degrees, I spotted their green shoots pushing up through the bare ground of a local park on a morning walk -- just as if it were spring.  The year was ending last weekend as I wandered with a friend past a communal garden in the same park and noticed that, in a December week in which the temperatures were in the mid-50s, the last few roses were still in bloom.

In between, in that park on a dark night in late October I watched a white-capped Hudson River roiling like some enraged beast, preparing for a storm surge that would flood lower Manhattan, plunging it into darkness and so turning it into "little North Korea," briefly making true islanders out of New Yorkers and flooding out whole communities.  That, of course, was Hurricane Sandy, the Frankenstorm surprise of New York's year (though anything but a worst case scenario).  And then, there was the American 2012 in which heat eternally set records and we experienced something close to an "endless summer."

If climate change had a personality in this year of so many grim records -- wildfires, drought, heat, carbon dioxide emissions -- it would definitely be saying: "I'm not the thing your grandchildren will have to deal with, I'm yours!"

In such a new world of upheaval, tradition matters.  And there is one inviolable tradition at TomDispatch: Rebecca Solnit has the last word -- as she has for years, peering into the future, sizing up the past, weighing alternatives to what is, and last year considering a season of being Occupied.  Now, for the first time in a long while, weather and climate change are a growing American preoccupation.  Of course, climate change is an area long occupied by the giant energy companies whose compassion extends no further than their bottom lines (which, like the heat, continue to set historical records).  Solnit in her year-ending, TomDispatch-closing piece suggests that it's time for us to occupy the topic ourselves, and do our best to ensure that this planet, 2013 and beyond, remains a habitable place for us, our children, and our grandchildren.  There could be no more powerful New Year's wish. Tom


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