ConsumerismGlobal Warming/Climate ChangeNuclear

Superstorm Sandy – the New Normal?

Pondering whether this type of weather will be the new normal, and how we can prepare ourselves.

by Zaia Kendall

A freak storm, never before seen. After the end of the normal hurricane season, this ‘superstorm’ developed and severely affected the Caribbean and northern US, killing people and causing devastation everywhere. But are we really that surprised? Is nature trying to point out the error in our ways?

How can New Yorkers possibly think that they are innocent in creating this storm? How is it possible that we are so far removed from our environment, that we cannot comprehend that large cities, made from concrete, steel and glass (all highly reflective surfaces), create their own micro climate and subsequently affect the world around them? The amount of heat that is created in a city the size of New York must be astronomical. Start taking responsibility for your actions people – we are all guilty in creating this damage!

Every year lately we have had enormous disasters in all corners of the globe: major flooding, earthquakes, tsunamis, superstorms…. And this is possibly only the beginning. We have now mistreated this planet for decades, and the major effects are only just starting to show. If this is the beginning, and we do not heed these warning signs, imagine how bad things will be 10 or 20 years from now. Superstorms, erratic weather, droughts, flooding and major damage. We will not have to worry about having enough energy to keep the economy growing anymore, because power plants will end up being shut down from continuing storm and weather damage. Considering there were apparently three nuclear plants shut down and one on alert in the New York area after superstorm Sandy, and electricity was no longer available to over seven million homes, I strongly believe we need to find alternative solutions to ensure people can survive natural disasters. We have to get rid of the ‘head in the sand’ mentality, and start acting pro-actively by re-empowering people to become self reliant again. What will people do when a disaster occurs that disables government and utilities?

We can no longer rely on government supplied resources or trust that our way of life will continue to improve or even stay the same as it is now. The damage after Sandy is only just lifting the curtain on the effects of what we have created with our energy and resource hungry society. We all bear the guilt, now we all have to create solutions.

Small, reliable communities in your local area, where everyone knows who they can go to for certain skills or resources are a great start for urban or rural areas. And, people will have to start making a commitment to stop consuming. We now have so much stuff, we really do not need anymore. Who knew they needed an iAnything 10 years ago? Nobody had mobile phones 30 years ago, and we all got by fine! Public phone booths did a great job (most of the time, if they were well maintained…). We need to connect more with people who are in physical proximity, and not spend all our time on Facebook trying to connect with people on the other side of the planet. Yes, it is great to be able to be in contact with friends and family around the world, but don’t forget the people where you live!

And, playing Farmville or other computer games will not necessarily help you in day to day, real life situations. We need to get our youth back in touch with the earth, take them on survival camp trips, and teach them how to live with little. A large portion of the problem in relation to violence, depression and aimlessness in today’s youth stems from losing touch with reality and nature, and the only way we will survive as a species is to create offspring that can survive on a planet where resources are depleted; where the air and the soil is polluted, and where they will have to make do with much less.


There seems to be remarkably little news about the nuclear situation in the US. Three nuclear power stations were down and one was on alert. Apparently nuclear power stations need to be connected to the grid to be able to cool the reactors and spent fuel pools. Is this really a smart position to be in?

Zaia Kendall

Zaia grew up in a family of musicians in Holland, and has a background in top sport and web development and design. She co-founded the PRI Luganville and PRI Sunshine Coast Inc with Tom, and runs all the background stuff, like finances, business administration, website design and maintenance, writes articles, records and edits videos and also organises the cooking and the kitchen on site. She has been researching and studying nutrition and health for 20+ years, has a certificate in Nutrition and continues to study by research, reading and daily observation. She is a certified member of the International Institute of Complementary Therapists and is a holistic food, health and lifestyle coach. She is also an active member of several musical projects and bands, involved in community music and runs occasional percussion workshops. Visit Zaia's website at DIY Food and Health.


  1. This is a rather insensitive article, and one that presents ZERO facts. I hope people don’t see this and think all permaculturists think like this.

  2. This is pure alarmism, anyone who knows history knows that storms do hit the northeast at this time of the year, and it was due by now. And hurrican season does not end until November 30. And since peaking around 2005, hurricane numbers and intensity has decreased in recent times. I live in Florida, this is just what happens.

  3. The last thing the world needs right now is for people to be sensitive and polite to the idiots that refuse to acknowledge common sense. I was one of the 7 million without power after Sandy and seeing how people responded to this type of situation was horrifying. Within just a couple days neighbors are robbing eachother and people are desperate enough to risk what’s left of their gas to find more, literally driving a hundred miles upstate with a dozen gas cans so they can bring some back for their generators. I’m sorry if it makes people uncomfortable but when the simplest and most obvious solutions, like having a hand pump for emergencies, are too radical for people then they need a serious wake up call. I have family getting ready to build a new house who still refuse to even consider passive solar designs, using natural materials or compost toilets. And I’m practically putting my life at risk when I suggest replacing the lawn with a garden. If we’re serious about restoring community resiliency and ecological sanity we’re all being way too nice about it.

  4. Thanks Dave. I wanted to respond to Jason, but was glad that you – given you are on the ground in the situation – commented first. Zaia had clearly said “we are all guilty in creating this damage!” She was not ‘picking on’ New Yorkers alone, but being inclusive of all of us. She was just expressing reality, that we can’t expect nature to ‘behave’ when everything we’re doing is undermining Her functions, and throwing Her out of balance. Huge cities become what they are through massive centralisation of agricultural systems. Huge cities are fed and supplied from globalised trade, and large scale monocultures, etc. It’s all based on the consumption of fossil fuels, the destruction of natural systems, habitats and diversity, and the release of an overabundance of CO2.

    I think it’s important that despite the loss and sadness involved in these disasters that we don’t shy away from the truth of their cause. Indeed, it should be taken as an opportunity to reflect. If we don’t do this, then nothing will change, and we will see this trend of increasingly devastating natural disasters only intensify.

  5. Craig, not “all” permaculturists think in the same ways as you do (and I am seriously starting to question whether you are aware of that). I’m not arguing with the premise that human activity has significantly altered the climate, not sure why you would make that assumption about me!

    The article comes off as judgmental of the behavior of people who have not been exposed to anything different. I’ve been in those ‘unaware of the world around me’ shoes, and I’m willing to bet you (and the far majority of your writers and readers) have too. I personally think some compassion for all is in order, rather than using words like “blame”. Dave, I know many people who STILL have no power, and lost almost everything, and I can guarantee you they aren’t ready to start blaming themselves. There is a time for everything; now is the time for a little bit of comfort for these folks.

  6. Jason, I’m not sure if you’re not speed-reading. I didn’t say “all” permaculturists think as I do. I only reiterated what Zaia said, that “we are all guilty in creating this damage.” I was just trying to show that nobody is being singled out and targeted here. I’ve also been in the ‘unaware of the world around me’ phase, as we all have. I’ve suffered things, and seen others suffer things, that none of us should have to suffer, and I’m not at all unsympathetic to the victims of civilisation’s collective stupidity. Indeed, it’s my sense of compassion that has me doing what I do.

    I’m sorry if I come across the wrong way, but if I do, it’s certainly not my intent.

    The world is simply running out of time, and we need to face hard realities, and learn our lessons as we receive them, while we still have some hope of turning things around.

  7. Craig, as you know I generally agree with your points, I think we just differ on our approach. I’ll leave it at that.

  8. Thanks Jason. Also, don’t forget that I didn’t write the post. I leave people to express their own views. I just commented as I felt you’d missed a key part of her post (that she wasn’t singling out New Yorkers).

  9. Thank you all for your comments. In relation to the issues raised I would like to ask how long we would have to comfort people for? I am aware this sounds harsh, but it is from feelings of compassion for what is going on in the world that I wrote the article and ask this question.

    It is not just the Americans who suffer, as Sandy went through the Caribbean as well, affecting countries such as Haiti, which is still recovering from the 2010 earthquake (and has been dealing with continual power shortages for years). A cyclone hit India earlier this month and affected tens of thousands of people, Japan is still trying to recover from last year’s tsunami and Christchurch is still rebuilding from last year’s earthquakes, to only name a few. These are all terrible events, but the fact remains that we as the human race need to take responsibility for the increase in intensity and occurrence of these events. If I make people upset by pointing that out, so be it. But at least they will be thinking about it, and perhaps eventually come to realise that there are actions they can start taking personally to help themselves and the planet. Unfortunately comforting people usually does not achieve this.

    The word “blame” does not actually appear in the article Jason, it must have been the way you interpreted the article.
    I feel time could be spent better by thinking about creative solutions to the problem at hand, rather than shooting the messengers (whose only aim is to awaken people).

  10. Zaia, I know where you are coming from. I just think it is not the time to use this event as a way to drum up awareness, especially as these same people are being pummeled by another storm right now (we can agree to disagree I’m comfortable with that). By “blame” I meant, ‘finding blame’, and the word itself doesn’t need to appear for that to be occurring.

    And, I would be delighted to see an article written about using oyster beds and engineered mangroves as ways to protect shorelines. Fact is these storms are going to keep occurring whether we all stop burning fossil fuels or not, they have always occurred, and yes, they are getting more frequent and intense, but it’s a bit late for the awareness campaign. Time for turning the problem into the solution, by replanting maritime forests and wetlands, engineering bivalve organism habitat, reestablishing barrier island overwash dynamics, site selection for coastal home siting, etc. I’d love to see an article about that. It would serve a lot of people.

  11. Hi Jason – your article idea sounds great. Please feel free to write it up and send it through for publishing.

  12. Jason- I would like to see an article on restoring mangroves and oysterbeds as well. As a southwest Florida native, I grew up in mangrove country and know first hand how beautifully they preform their functions. What I don’t know- and am interested in learning- is how to incorporate marine environments into permaculture.

  13. I’ll draw one up in my spare time, as I am actually very interested in gaining more solid thinking around this. I’m not the most appropriate person to do this, being that I live mid-continent, but I’ve been researching coastal ecology and history on and off for the last three years. I hope someone else with actual experience steps up in the meantime, but I’ll make my offering. What interests me about this is taking permaculture design and applying it anywhere. This was the brilliance of Mollison to me in that he could go anywhere and use the principles and design thinking to develop solutions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Back to top button