I am scrolling through photos of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy posted on The Atlantic Magazine’s website. Two strike me with their metaphorical value. The first shows seawater cascading into the 9/11 Ground Zero construction site. On the exact spot where some seek to rebuild the national psyche in the aftermath of 9/11, Hurricane Sandy emphasizes ongoing vulnerabilities. The seawater will subside and the monument will be built, but damage done by climate change will remain worldwide and relentless. In 2000, an official at the world’s sixth largest insurance company warned that property damage from climate change could bankrupt the world economy by 2065. What kind of a monument do you build to that?
The second photo is of an underground parking garage in New York’s financial district that Sandy has retrofitted into a marina for marooned minivans.
What better place than America’s financial district to learn the one lesson missing from most business schools and economics textbooks: Mother Nature bats last. The vehicles are submerged, end out of the water, in total submission to the superstorm souped up by the carbon they’ve spewed. Each one looks like it has been piloted into a pond by a person not paying attention. As far as the metaphorical value of the photo is concerned, each is exactly that.