AN ILL WIND

1. It’s Friday, September 8, 2017.

2. It’s the 513th anniversary of the unveiling of the David, Michelangelo’s massive statue that now stands in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence.

It’s one of the world’s most impressive pieces of human creation – Italian, of course. Hopefully, on a day like this, it’s a reminder that there will be beauty in the world again, even beauty from the hands of creatures such as us.

3. There is no good thing to be said about a Category 4 hurricane striking the heart of Florida, other than perhaps at least it’s not a Category 5 anymore.

Unless something amazing happens in the next few hours, Irma will devastate cities such as Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. It threatens the national playground of Orlando. People will die. Structure of all kinds will be destroyed. There will be misery and hardship for days.

There will be lots to be angry about in the days ahead. Has our failure to address climate change triggered storms that are more powerful and frequent than those of the past? Have we overbuilt in places such as Houston and Miami that are prone to these freaks of nature?

Those are good questions that need to be asked and answered. Trump and his idiots will dodge them because they don’t suit their narrative.

So let’s just hope they’re as focused as the rest of us on the safety and wellbeing of Floridians over the next few days. We will be watching – another tip of the hat to former colleagues at CNN and other networks for their courage and diligence. And we will be hoping for the best.

4. When Sandy struck in 2012, my family was faced with two big problems.

One was that we had no power for eight days. In late October-early November, that really stinks. By the eighth night, we fled for a hotel in New Jersey.

The other problem was gas. The price skyrocketed to nearly $5 a gallon – if you could find it. We spent a whole Saturday afternoon lined up for an Upper Nyack Citgo station. Police monitored the line to stop cut-ins.

At the time, I lamented our dependence on fossil fuels, shouting that there has to be a better way to power the world in the 21st century.

Since then, to the credit of the Obama administration and the governments of other nations, the world has moved closer to safer, cleaner alternatives.

I just spent a week in California, where you’re far more likely to see hybrid and electric vehicles than you are in greater New York. Driving through Ontario about four years ago, there were windmills for miles on end, and now you see them in places like New Haven and San Diego. There are solar panels everywhere.

Clearly, we haven’t come far enough. Proof is the line of traffic on Interstate 75 in Florida today. Not to mention the fact that a significant percentage of Florida gas stations are dry as millions try to flee this storm.

The fact that gas prices have tumbled in recent years, to below $2 a gallon at some times, actually hasn’t helped. People are again addicted to cheap gas – when they are, vehicles that get good mileage or don’t use gas at all tend to get passed over for the biggest honkin’ pick-up or SUV.

And, unfortunately, now that oil and coal are the toast of the Trump administration, continued progress toward making America more secure through alternative fuels can’t be expected.

So I’ll say it again. There’s gotta be something better than running the world on fossil fuels. Every time we have a storm, we’re reminded of that. Let’s see if Harvey, Irma and whatever else comes along this year helps more people get a brain.

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