DN Editorial: GETTING WARM: Why it was a 'Frankenstorm' - and why we worry

Posted: October 31, 2012

RESCUE missions continued yesterday and power was restored to some of the millions who lost it during what was, according to several measures, an unprecedented storm. It was the kind of weather event, with its combination of rain, snow and wind, that isn't supposed to happen, according to scientists. October tropical-storm systems typically weaken as they move north over cold water and then bend out to sea.

This storm was different, in part because the Atlantic Ocean is five degrees warmer than usual for this time of year, meaning that it got farther north than hurricanes usually do. While hurricanes per se aren't caused by global warming, the way Sandy blasted the Northeast and Midwest certainly could have been.

Early on, CNN banned use of the nickname "Frankenstorm," which it deemed unserious. Yet Frankenstorm is exactly the right metaphor for what has happened over the past few days. It - and the other recent extreme weather and natural disasters that have struck in recent months - represent what Dr. Frankenstein's monster signified: an unholy and uncontrollable melding of the natural with the unintended consequences of modern technology.

On Tuesday, Twitter continued to transmit safety instructions. Inevitably, politicians will be evaluated on their preparedness and response. But it's downright surreal to express concern about safety and preparedness today while we also continue to downplay the crisis of global warming. That must not continue.

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