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A couple of summers ago, my sons encouraged me to read Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, a novel about a father and son fighting for survival as they traverse a cold, sunless, ash-covered landscape. What touched me most about the book was the way the father tried to explain, even normalize, this post-apocalyptic world for his son.

In this fictional world, other people pose a threat. They may help you, but they are more likely to kill you. The father helped his son understand this dangerous world by dividing it into good guys and bad guys.

“This is what the good guys do,” he told his son. “They keep trying. They don’t give up.”

Amid the devastation left by Hurricane Sandy, I imagine parents up and down the Eastern Seaboard are doing the same for their children. They have to put a hopeful spin on their new reality and project an optimistic future.

Fortunately, in today’s post-Sandy, nonfiction catastrophe, most people are “the good guys.” Together, they are helping each other navigate their devastated lives.

I’ve watched this video taken in Rockaway Queens over and over again.

I can’t get the images out of my head: streets buried in sand, cars scattered into piles like pick-up sticks. “It’s like a scene from some end-of-the-world movie,” says the film’s narrator. It has been weeks since Sandy raged through this neighborhood, and many people are still without power, heat, or hot water.

This is where we are. We can’t go back. We can only move forward. But the fork in the road that will take us toward McCarthy’s dystopian future is ever closer.

These superstorms are the new normal. And while it will take decades to bring our planet back from the brink, actions we take now can slow and maybe even halt climate change tomorrow.

We have to be like the good guys in McCarthy’s book, who keep trying  and don’t give up.

Fighting for a clean and safe environment is like every other battle we’ve undertaken.  We haven’t made progress in attaining civil rights, equality for women, or gay rights by asking politely. We demand those rights, loudly, consistently — because we are entitled to them.

We must do no less in our fight to stop climate change. Not only are we and future generations entitled to a clean and healthy environment, our lives, and theirs, depend on it.

A slightly different version of this post appeared on Moms Clean Air Force. Click here to act now and join the good guys.

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