Fourteen people are now confirmed dead and as many as 176 people are missing following a mudslide in Washington State. Authorities admit that the 176 missing might be over inflated. This tragedy occurred when the side of a mountain gave out and caused everything in its way to be covered and or destroyed. According to NBC News, “The mudslide Saturday flattened dozens of homes in an area that was 4,400 feet wide by 4,400 feet long — shy of a square mile — leaving a jumble of muck and debris in its wake. It peeled off a section of the hill that is 1,500 feet wide and 600 feet high. The concern was the land behind that so-called head-scarp might be unstable.” This instability is of course hampering rescue efforts as it’s simply to dangerous to move in large rescue teams to search for the dead and missing. While terribly tragic, we must at last arrive at the realization that if we continue to build homes on mountains and homes by the ocean, or homes in the center of “tornado alley” weather related fatalities will continue to rise. The homes on this mountain have always been at risk. It just so happened that this is when the mountain had enough. Maybe the homes caused the instability. Of course it will be easier to simply blame climate change.
Katrina was nothing more than a time bomb waiting to go off. It had absolutely nothing to do with the severity of Katrina. If you build homes near the Gulf Of Mexico that are below sea level, odds are that eventually the water will spill over its banks and flood everything in its path. If there were no houses there, the tragedy would have been avoided. Blame the lack of infrastructure and the fact that most of those who died and lost homes were poor so they received the least attention. That was the primary cause of the devastation.
With millions of people now living near or on all of our coasts, the chances for widespread destruction and death has increased substantially regardless of climate change. Even weak hurricanes will cause devastation. Hurricane Sandy hit New York as barely a Category 1. Not only wasn’t the wind associated with Sandy impressive, it didn’t rain. The old infrastructure of New York City and Long Island was the cause of most of the devastation. Sewers backed up and water crashed over sea walls that are simply insufficient. They have always been insufficient but when the storm moved inland and brought with it the storm surge, poor engineering was put to the test and it failed. The southern most end of Manhattan that was flooded is man made, built from the excavation of the original World Trade Center site. But nobody points to poor engineering as the cause. It must obviously be climate change.
With more people choosing to live in tornado alley, one need not be a fortune-teller to know for certain that many more people will be injured and killed by tornadoes this hurricane season. Only good forecasting will save lives. Tornados have always been an issue in the midwest. So much so, that in 1939 there was a movie about a house being lifted by one and carried away. That wasn’t just someone’s creative imagination.
In closing, let’s keep focussed on the real issues of climate change and not label every blizzard, tornado, hurricane and mudslide as caused by climate change because it simply isn’t true. If those who legitimately campaign for change don’t cry wolf at every weather related event, they will be far move effective. They are partly to blame for the reason that fewer and fewer people are believing. If you live in Minneapolis where there were close to 60 days below zero Farenheit this winter, it’s difficult to buy in to climate change. In fact, you might welcome it. Are you listening Bill Maher?