All along the East Coast, Americans are bracing for a weather disaster of some sort. The further north Hurricane Sandy travels, those of us in the mid-Atlantic and New England anticipate its merger with a Nor’easter and at a time when pressure systems will cause the hurricane to take a sharp westerly turn.
We are now hearing that degraded satellite and other weather monitoring equipment is likely to impact the accuracy of prediction. The infrastructure hasn’t been maintained as well as it should, and glitches and poor data quality are probable.
What they used to call ‘global warming’ had transformed into ‘climate change’ since, after all, weather wasn’t merely heating up, it was also cooling, and other weather events were significantly altering. It eventually got so out of whack that many now call it ‘global weirding,’ which seems to me an appropriate phrase. But when a National Weather Service meteorologist referred to this unprecedented storm that is about to ravage the East Coast, he called it ‘a monstrous hybrid vortex.’
Such a description seems to describe the climate events we should anticipate, not only over the next few days, and along a few hundred miles of coastline on one particular continent. Instead, we might recognize that in what some are calling the Anthropocene, the atmosphere around this planet is an aggregation of monstrous vortices that rejects accurate modelling, not purely because of our decaying technological infrastructure, but because the unfolding events confound human cognition and the devices we use to scaffold our feeble minds to an unhinged and uncontrollable natural universe. In this age, our monsters are the air we breathe, and they are far more restless than Frankenstein’s.