Mostly missed on lists for 2011 was the horrific toll of weather disasters. Globally, natural disasters are growing in number and violence. Most record-setting events in 2011 were elsewhere, but even here climate is being rocked off its 11,700-year-old perch.

Federal disasters once were rare, but 2011 saw declarations in 47 states. So-called 100-year events are happening much more often. Average damages for the 1980s, reported by re-insurance giant SwissRE, which covers other insurers against weather disasters, were $25 billion yearly. SwissRE now blows through that in 10 weeks.

The 13 warmest years recorded have all occurred in the 15 years since 1997. In 2011, the Arctic Ocean icepack had the smallest volume on record.

Ninety-seven percent of climate scientists say that climate change is real and man-made and demands immediate changes from us. The only controversy is manufactured in corporate media, board rooms and think-tanks.

Experts understated the threat. That’s why we’re always hearing news like the oceans’ acidity “has reached levels not expected until 2050.” Or “Scientists baffled by accelerating changes.” Or “Climate models appear deficient.”

Mother Nature’s planetary metabolism is ill. We’re in for more chaotic, abrupt turmoil that will deliver warmer, wetter and wilder weather than we’ve ever seen.

We had a mini-ice storm over the holidays, and five Mainers died. Future consequences will stagger us, with food and fuel shortages, economic meltdowns and vanishing governance.

It’s time to re-localize and shock-proof our communities with self-reliant strategies for sustainability and resilience. “Perfect storms” are coming, as nature’s adjustments collide head-on with the end of cheap oil.

Everyone should locate a nearby sustainability or transition group and find their own way to a meaningful future.

James Murphy


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