Yes, Climate Change Is Real — Ask Puerto Rico!

As you are wakening this morning, Puerto Rico is once again in the path of what could become another major hurricane.  The latest from The Weather Channel as I write this around 1:00 a.m. EST …

Tropical Storm Fiona is producing flooding rainfall and strong wind gusts in the northeastern Caribbean and it may strengthen into a hurricane as it tracks near Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

A hurricane warning has been issued for Puerto Rico and parts of the Dominica Republic and a hurricane watch has been issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Once again, climate change rears its ugly head.  Still yet, people aren’t taking it seriously.  An article I read this week in The Washington Post caught my eye.  The author is Ricia Anne Chansky Sancinito, a professor at the University of Puerto Rico, senior climate justice fellow at the Humanities Action Lab and co-editor of “Mi María: Surviving the Storm, Voices from Puerto Rico.”  In her article, she attempts to understand why we humans are so resistant to making the changes needed to protect life on earth from the devastation of climate change.  It is an interesting and thought-provoking read.


Climate disaster isn’t a game. When will the U.S. stop pretending it is?

By Ricia Anne Chansky Sancinito

14 September 2022

A friend recently texted me a photo of a “game” she and her son happened upon while taking a break from their back-to-school shopping: Hurricane Simulator.

Its description promises that players can “step inside and get blown away, without the worry of physical danger.” It lets people “feel winds up to 75 mph” while a 42-inch LCD screen shows “animations of physical destruction.” People can experience a storm safe from “the danger of flying debris, rising tides, horizontal rain.” Its promoters promise the simulator is “all for fun,” which equals “a big profit for operators!”

The friend who sent the photo is from Puerto Rico, a survivor of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria, which made landfall five years ago this month. As is her son. As am I.

It’s strange for us to imagine the person who wants to step inside a hurricane simulator and watch animations of destruction. It’s hard to fathom a communal trauma — one shared by the 3.3 million people who lived in Puerto Rico when Maria struck — functioning as amusement. But I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that the game exists — and is a moneymaker.

That a company would package disaster as entertainment makes sense when we think of the widespread efficacy of climate change deniers, who have underplayed the impact corporations have on the environment, largely by divorcing disaster from its very human costs.

The latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was described by António Guterres, the U.N. secretary general, as a “code red for humanity.” Why is such a declaration, about such an enormous crisis, not enough to impel more people to act?

George Marshall, co-founder of Climate Outreach and author of “Don’t Even Think About It: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change,” argues that although the science has long been clear, scholarship isn’t enough to persuade people to take it seriously — because scientific data “does not galvanize our emotional brain into action.”

Paul Slovic, president of Decision Research, has suggested it’s difficult to motivate people because many can’t conceive of how climate change will affect their lives. “The question is often ‘Do I feel vulnerable?’” he told Time in 2018.  “For the most part, we don’t, and that shapes our behavior.”

Seen this way, the Hurricane Simulator is an apt metaphor for the separation between abstract notions about climate disasters and their tangible real-life outcomes. The “game” is a “unique attraction,” a seemingly harmless thrill — so much easier to step inside a box than to confront the true stories of hardship, courage and survival like those I’ve recorded over the past five years. For instance:

Carlos Bonilla Rodríguez, a farmer in San Sebastián, watched from a neighbor’s house as Hurricane Maria peeled back the roof of his home. “When everything was taken by the wind … and I knew we had nothing,” Carlos said, “the only thing to do was cry.” Although this was the second time Carlos’s home had been destroyed — the first was during Hurricane Georges in September 1998 — he received no government aid. As he put it: “not even a nail.”

Belle Marie Torres Velázquez, the only doctor on the island municipality of Culebra, was forced to deliver a premature baby in a supply closet because almost two months after the hurricane, there was still no electricity, and the closet was the only space close enough to hook into a generator. “This baby was coming under very poor conditions — with no access to special equipment, no transportation and no possible communication with an obstetrician,” she recalled, adding: “All those same feelings of desperation are inside me still.”

The Hurricane Simulator isn’t the problem. The game is a symptom and reflection of a larger crisis, built by individuals, corporations and governments that have not faced up to a global emergency caused by human degradation of the environment.

In contested spaces such as Puerto Rico, this is an emergency with consequences compounded by existing inequities, systemic racism, colonial practices and predatory maneuvers such as “disaster capitalism,” which enriches private profiteers at the expense of the rest of us.

As Puerto Rico prepares for the height of the 2022 storm season, our recently privatized electric grid frequently crashes, leaving many without power. Thousands of homes haven’t been rebuilt. Medical care is extremely difficult to access. And schools, roads and health-care facilities remain in a state of deterioration. What happens if we find ourselves in the path of another Category 5 hurricane?

This is not a simulation. It’s not a drill. But for the many stakeholders who find climate issues too removed from their own experiences to worry about, or too inconvenient to worry about when there are corporate profit margins to consider, this global crisis will remain merely a game — until it’s far too late for any of us to win.


Note to readers:  The often lengthy comment threads on a few of my posts for the past week or so have rather overwhelmed me and as a result, I am still trying to catch up on responding to comments.  I love the back-and-forth discussion in these threads … this is how we find common ground!  However, there are only so many hours in a day and I am but one person.  So, if I have not responded to all comments, know that I am still trying to get caught up and will answer as many as I possibly can, but inevitably some may fall through the cracks.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.

53 thoughts on “Yes, Climate Change Is Real — Ask Puerto Rico!

  1. That’s not a hurricane simulator. To have a hurricane simulator you’d need something the size of a large aircraft hanger, with two wind tunnel generators and several fire department hoses turned in one direction, then something that makes a screaming sound of a high wind…and finally the shmucks that pay would have to stay in it for five or six hours…and that’s without the random debris thrower……See if they grin through that…..
    OR they can hightail over to Japan right now
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-62952942
    The only use I can see for that damn obscenity is locking Trump in it.
    Meanwhile the World reacts to too many humans not paying attention to the small print of living on a planet.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you … that is a toy, not a hurricane simulator! And … the biggest difference … the occupant can simply open the door and step out of that cylinder … the people of Puerto Rico had their houses blown in around their heads and there was no ‘stepping out’ of it all.

      9 million people told to evacuate in Japan! Unbelievable … and yet, here we are. Having ignored the warnings of scientists for many decades now, we are only just beginning to pay the price for our perfidy. Only just beginning. And still, people deny and go on about their merry little lives. Someday it will hit them directly and it will be no more nor less than they signed on for.

      Hey, I rather like your idea of locking Trump in it. Actually, I would contribute to a fund to buy about 250 or those things and lock a whole bunch more besides Trump in them!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. We are just, currently experiencing the effects of climate change, the typhoons that usually comes, at latest, in September now, visit close to October, and, each of the previous years, these, com-lately typhoons bring about, more damages of too much rain, flood, landslides, and, more, deaths.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many thanks for the reblog, dear friend. And I am so concerned for the people of Puerto Rico when tonight I read about the catastrophic flooding. You and MJ are in Florida at the moment, right? Take care, my friend, and my heart goes out to all the people of Puerto Rico.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Most welcome! Thank YOU for this post! Yes, we are in FL.
        I don’t know if you are aware that MJ’s only son passed, first born pases away 8/22 — we Gad planned to travel early August. Had to cancel bc of his illness. His service & memorial was on 9/16. MJ’s family is still here – will leave tomorrow.

        We’d planned to travel to PR by end of this month. Now … don’t know when we’ll be able too.

        What I’ve seen so far, I think it will be a while before we can return. 🥲

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing!!.. one doesn’t have to wait for a Puerto Rico to be aware of climate changes, etc., it comes down to if one wishes to… there are many who have found their “comfort zone” and will deny any actions they may see as a threat… and they will ignore anything that does not affect them directly… of course, for the leadership to stay in power, they try to cater to the wishes of the deniers to get their vote… but there are little things everyone can do and hopefully together can make a difference, but only if they want to…. 🙂

    Hope all is well in your part of the world and until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly what I just responded to Orca’s comment … it doesn’t require us to do a lot, but there are many things each of us can do to help make a difference. Too many people greedily insist on driving their car to the end of the street to get the mail or dump the trash, when it would be more economical, healthy, and help the environment to put on some shoes and walk! Turn the heat down and put on a sweater! Boycott food producers that still continue to use harmful chemicals. And reduce plastic use. But, as you say, people don’t want to budge from their comfort zone. Heck, if they won’t even wear a mask in public to protect their own health and their family, they surely won’t turn out a few lights and drive their cars less!

      Many thanks for the wonderful Irish Saying, my friend! Have a good week ahead!

      Like

  4. Yes, of course is climate change real, a reality of life. I guess no serious inhabitant of this planet will deny that. The question is just if it’s manmade or a natural occurance. We know ice ages start with warming up at first. And honestly, what are we going to do? Such a heavy swing in temperatures is in the works since hundreds, maybe thousands of years, not much we can do about it. I won’t dump my gas guzzler and buy an even more damaging EV that I’m not able to afford anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Certainly it is likely that there would be gradual changes in the environment over the centuries even without human intervention. However, I think science has proven that many human activities have altered the earth’s atmosphere in very dangerous ways. Humans would likely have evolved to survive nature’s changes, but I don’t think, if we continue putting this much carbon into the atmosphere, polluting our oceans, rivers and streams with plastic, and our soil with lethal chemicals, that humans will be able to adapt quickly enough to ensure their survival. My view … better safe than sorry. Many people cannot afford to ‘dump’ their gasoline-powered vehicles for electric ones at the moment, but we CAN consolidate trips, walk whenever feasible, use mass transit whenever possible, and thus reduce our carbon footprint. We can adjust our thermostats … put on a sweater instead of turning the heat up. Invest in energy-efficient appliances. It doesn’t take much to help make a difference.

      Like

    • Nan, I’m not Jill but if you look closely in the line where all the Likes and our avatar pics are, in front you’ll find a Reblog button. You can add a text of your own – perfect for mentioning and thanking the original article – and then, after a refresh, it should show up in your own blog.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the response, but the Reblog button is what I’m looking for. I read most of received posts by click on the bell in the R-hanjd corner and that version doesn’t have reblog on it. Then when I go to the original source on Reader it also often doesn’t have Reblog on it. I was just searching for the reblog button, which I guess I found by going through the Reader, diane ravitch’s blog is another which doesn’t often have a reblog button on her home blog.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Sometimes when I am using Firefox as my browser, I don’t see a reblog button on people’s blog posts, but if I switch to Chrome, then it miraculously reappears! You might want to try a different browser?

          Like

            • True, and for that very reason I don’t use it as my primary browser, but when Opera and Firefox fail, I turn to Chrome which usually solves whatever problem, such as a missing reblog button, I’m having.

              Like

              • “True, and for that very reason I don’t use it as my primary browser, but when Opera and Firefox fail, I turn to Chrome which usually solves whatever problem, such as a missing reblog button, I’m having.”

                Thing is Firefox has never ever failed me. And even if, I’d rather use the wurst FF fork-off than caving in to Chrome. I’m a grrl of principles you must know.

                Liked by 1 person

    • Oh that’s for sure! Our own backtracked completely in 2017 when, under the “leadership” of a madman, we withdrew from the Paris Climate Accords and instead undid most of the good that had been done to that point. However, hopefully we’re back on track now and will stay that way! We are definitely making a push toward much more renewable energy and toward reducing fossil fuels significantly. It’s a start, but maybe still not enough.

      Like

    • “It was once about future generations, yet it’s moved on and now it’s”
      … about generations after the future, so the futurefuture, the nextnext gen future, the superfuture. We won’t be alive by then so why worry now?

      Like

        • “Our children and grandchildren and their children will, though. Don’t future generations matter to you, Orca?”

          Hubs and me made a conscious decision not to have kids. We’re going on 8 billion assholes on this marble and I think that’s more than enough. My man and me, we live as environmentally friendly as possible, is all we can do. We only buy used cars and motorcycles and keep them alive as long as possible, we don’t use any heating or AC, we don’t waste food, we use as little plastic as possible, we didn’t fly since almost 4 years now and we only buy new clothes when the old rags are falling apart. We’re really good, well-behaved kids.

          And there’s also the frightening aspect that after the Donbass referendum the people decide they wanna be part of the Russian federation (which they will 100% do with a great majority) that some unstable US general will push the button in frustration and nuke us all to heaven. In that case we don’t need to worry about future generations anyway. 😦

          Liked by 1 person

          • And I applaud your decision. Were I just now starting my adult life, I would likely make the same decision. But, I did have three children, one of whom died 3 years ago, but the other two live and I have a cherished granddaughter, so I’d like to preserve life on earth for them.

            Like you, I keep a car until it draws its last breath, and I drive very little … about 3 miles per week, as it were. I do use heating and air-conditioning, so I’m behind you there, but I don’t care about clothes … what I have will last me for the rest of my life. Not going to get into the discussion about Russia v Ukraine tonight … I have enough angst at the moment.

            Like

            • “And I applaud your decision. Were I just now starting my adult life, I would likely make the same decision.”
              LOL, we’re no starters, having 25th anniversary coming up in December, 35 years of being in the relationship.

              “But, I did have three children, one of whom died 3 years ago, but the other two live and I have a cherished granddaughter, so I’d like to preserve life on earth for them.”
              Understandable. As I said hubby and me are living a fairly wholesome lifestyle with as little impact on the planet as possible. Except our 3l V6 Ford gas guzzler. Bur buying an EV here in South Africa isn’t even an option. And even if it were these things are sooo super bad for the environment, our 55 y/o van couldn’t do as much damage if it tried.

              “Like you, I keep a car until it draws its last breath, and I drive very little … about 3 miles per week, as it were. I do use heating and air-conditioning, so I’m behind you there, but I don’t care about clothes … what I have will last me for the rest of my life. Not going to get into the discussion about Russia v Ukraine tonight … I have enough angst at the moment.”
              Likewise. And for me the discussion is over and done with. Them lovely Russkies finally created facts, and when the referendums in Donbass and some areas/cities are decided the world will be a much better place … until our angst becomes reality. 😦

              Well-informed discussion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qskLuWb0GEM Needless to say that I agree with their analysis. of the recent situation. Particularly OCD Alexander is good in going in deep.

              Like

  5. Pingback: Yes, Climate Change Is Real — Ask Puerto Rico! | Ned Hamson's Second Line View of the News

  6. I don’t understand the climate change deniers either. If the science isn’t convincing enough, how about the extreme weather events we have had for several years? My thoughts and prayers to the people of Puerto Rico…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Jill, the post I wrote where I pulled the excerpts from the article on oil companies admitting to gaslighting people about climate change in documents sent to Congress is yet one more confirmation of the lengths the industry went to obfuscate the truth. Fortunately, the US passed the Inflation Reduction Act with its major funding of renewable energy and electric car charging stations. It sent a notice to the world that we are going to take this more seriously. Fortunately, many companies and states ignored the attempts by the oil industry to limit renewables, while saying they were not. Even Texas has 20% of its electricity powered by renewables and actually quietly developed power lines to harness the wind energy being created.

    Climate change is here. It is impacting us costing lives, relocations, and money. In 2011, the major pension investors around the world conducted a study through Mercer Investment consulting and they predicted then, the cost of dealing with climate change would be in the tens of trillions of dollars. To be frank, they may have been a tad low on the estimate.

    Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it is here and it’s only going to get worse until we all — every nation — take some serious and dramatic steps to limit carbon emissions. I cannot understand why there are still climate deniers who are yet wearing their rosy-coloured glasses saying there isn’t any proof. Good grief … does it have to slam them in the head before they can see it? And as for the fossil fuel industry … they could have and should have been proactive from the very beginning and now companies like Shell & Exxon would be in a great position to transition to renewable energy. Instead, they were short-term thinkers, concerning themselves only with immediate profit and not the long view. The Inflation Reduction Act is a giant step and yet another reason we should be thankful we have Joe Biden in the Oval Office!

      Like

  8. Until the effects of climate change hit us personally, meaning that our homes get hit by the typhoons, hurricanes, or, tornadoes, we don’t notice just how bad it’s getting, and by the time we realize the effects of climate change, and start doing something about it, too late, damages are, already, done, and, the planet will be, beyond repair then, because we humans, don’t heed these, warning signs from nature, we keep on, raping Mother Nature, and, of course, she’s, becoming, angry…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Unfortunately, that does seem to be the case, that people won’t believe it until it’s right at their doorstep, and by then it’s too late. In fact, it may already be too late, but still some claim that it’s all a hoax. Sigh. Yep, Mother Nature is not happy with us … who can blame her?

      Like

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