Tuesday, August 30, 2005

On Katrina

The final paragraphs of today's USA Today story are instructive:

More lessons will emerge in the days and weeks to come as the full impact sets in of what is shaping up to be the most costly hurricane in U.S. history. Those lessons will surely need to be applied to future disasters; the only question is when.

Will another such storm strike in a year? Five? Thirty? When will that long-predicted killer earthquake hit Los Angeles or San Francisco? What about another tsunami?

They're all nature's secrets.

But are they all secrets, really? For all such phenomena are merely a question of when, not if. They will happen, though it surpasses current human knowledge to predict the date of their coming.

But I would make a distinction. While the chaotic mathematics of plate tectonics may make earthquake prediction, and any corresponding tsunamis an almost impenetrable cipher, Gulf coast hurricanes, and the damage they inflict to low lying land masses, like New Orleans, are subject to much more knowable causation.

Simply put, as the atmosphere warms, ice caps melt, sea levels rise, and areas at or just above sea level become areas at or just below sea level.

And while nothing made by man, not even nuclear weapons detonated just so by some would be Lex Luthor can really cause an earthquake, the works of man can, and increasingly are elevating global atmospheric temperatures.

So while BushCorp™'s faith-based "scientific" advisors keep whispering that any effects of global warming are no doubt decades or centuries away, if they exist at all of course, let me suggest that its effects can be felt now, and can destroy in a matter of days, in a matter of hours.


tim said...

This was an interesting post. I find the idea that President Bush is responsible for the hurricane in New Orleans and all the loss of life a new idea. However, the conservative blogs and talk radio personalities were predicting the Democratic Party would somehow try to blame President Bush for ths disaster from the first day of this disaster.

Let me see if I am clear on the argument. 1. Hurricane causes extensive damage. 2. Hurricane is caused by global warming. 3. President Bush does not believe global warming is man made. 4. President Bush is against environmental regulations that may reduce global warming. 5. President Bush is anti-science and pro-faith so he lack understanding of the real science associated with global warming. 6. Since he lacks understanding of the true science and has a faith based approach to creationsim, he cannot deal with global warming and the negative impact that this will cause the environment.

OK, I think I have it now. However, when we say President Bush is responsible for hurricane damage in New Orleans, we must develop a cause and effect relationship using a scientific method. In scientific terms, developing an obsolute cause and effect relationship in reseach is indeed difficult. The variables in this case are numerous. I will not tackle them at this time.

This is a better argument. President Bush would have numerous National Guard and Army reserve units available to help in this disaster, if he had not sent them to Iraq.

This is just one centrist crying in the wilderness.

Take care.

Citizen Kang said...

This is a better argument. President Bush would have numerous National Guard and Army reserve units available to help in this disaster, if he had not sent them to Iraq.

I've seen that argument before and I entirely agree. It might also be noted that if instead of pouring billions into a pointless quagmire we spent money on things like shoring up levees, re-creating lost barrier islands, and revitalizing wetlands, the damage to New Orleans would be less.

The USA Today article just kind of pissed me off because of its all too typical, there was nothing we could do about it attitude. I'm not suggesting that we can prevent hurricanes, I'm just suggesting that there still is plenty that we can and should be doing. I'm also suggesting that the BushCorp™ head in the sand attitude is less than helpful.

In addition to efforts to reduce global warming, there were many site-specific actions which could have ameliorated the devastation visted on NOLA: From the LA Times:
Experts have recommended replenishing the more than 1 million acres of coastal marshland that have vanished into the sea since 1930, largely the result of human intrusion. A study panel concluded the cost could top $14 billion.

Other proposals have included rebuilding barrier islands, erecting more levees and restricting the flow of water into channels and canals. A Louisiana State University professor even proposed building a two-story wall with floodgates to secure the southern part of the city, saying the walled zone could serve as a municipal refuge in a killer storm.

tim said...

President Bush's Iraqi War is using up our resources quickly. Our ability to plan ahead for disasters has been hampered. You are correct in suggesting he should spend more resources in preparation for things that may arise.

Over the last several decades, Washington has not done enough to protect Americans against natural disasters and terrorism. I don't want to get started on the lack of national security planning against possible terrorist attacks.

Take care.