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Virus Without Borders: Chapter Thirty

With thanks to Marika Cinque Condos for permission to use her photo, "Birds Awaiting the Storm @ Montauk."

  

Storms

 

 

 

A new Cold War-like atmosphere is engulfing science. The science we need to solve world problems like pandemics and challenges from climate change cannot be achieved without politically neutral agendas where the global public good is paramount.

 

– Helle Porsdam, Professor of Law and Humanities and UNESCO Chair in Cultural Rights at the University of Copenhagen

 

 

   

We have just recovered from a fast-moving, fierce, too-early- in- the-season hurricane, Hurricane Isaias. It ripped down trees and wires, knocked out power and cable. Like the arrival of a dread, still mysterious virus, our 21st century digital lives were upended. If we are poor, our lives continue to upend. Hardship on top of hardship.


When I was a kid in New York City, I always wanted to watch the hurricanes arriving. All up and down West End Avenue, canopies were taken down and, on Broadway, protections raised on plate glass windows. I could hardly contain my excitement that I'd have a day off school. Weather drama. Hurricane Holiday. But storms have worsened, and drama is not what we want or need any more, especially during a pandemic. The two events are scientifically connected; it's long past time to pay attention.


The U.S. National Hurricane Center started naming hurricanes in the early 1950s. Now, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), a UN agency with 193 member countries, generates the list of hurricane names--male and female these days-- and oversees the global response to climate change and the effects of climate change.


"Still no internet here," I wrote on my FB page the morning after the storm as I answered posts from near and far. Like COVID, everyone's experience was different, on a spectrum of "sheltering in a basement with two cats" to "not much, a mild case." It's a reminder that every human life and circumstance is of concern, no story to be disregarded. When a storm or a pandemic hits one country and one family, it hits us all.

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