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Rebuilding After Climate-Related Disasters

May 25, 2011

Anyone who still denies the reality of climate change is a moron, an asshole and, most likely a fan of Fox News. The evidence is overwhelming to any open-minded news junkie. A storm hit my area on April 9th with hail 2.3″ in diameter – almost twice the size of a golf ball. Then on May 11th, a killer windstorm hit my entire county, toppling a poplar tree that crushed my shed. There hasn’t been such widespread damage and power disruption here since Hurricane Hugo in 1989. As bad as all this was for me and my neighbors, it was nothing in comparison to this Spring’s damage in the midwest. The epic snowstorms of this past winter melted, causing record flooding of the Mississippi river. If that wasn’t bad enough, Mother Nature piled insult onto injury with twice the normal number of tornadoes, many of which were so powerful that entire towns no longer exist. The death toll has been double the normal count. As I write this, Joplin Missouri is digging out from an EF-5, and Kansas, Arkansas and Oklahoma are being pummeled by 69 tornadoes. Today, it’s 93 degrees and humid at my house – oppressive August weather in May. Mother Nature is pissed, and she’s paying us back for a century of human disregard for the planet’s well-being.

The surviving victims of all these horrible, climate-related disasters vow to rebuild and move on with their lives. I want to point out that any such rebuilding must be done with the knowledge that things will never again be as they used to be. We are now in a new, devastating normal. If they rebuild along the river, they will be flooded out again. If they build the same kinds of dwellings that escaped tornado damage in the past, they will lose everything again. One episode of total destruction in a lifetime is once too often.

There are ways to build “smart” with this new normal in mind. People should stop building homes along the rivers and oceans altogether but, if they insist on doing so, the new homes should be designed so they float with the rising waters. Homes in high-wind and tornado-prone areas should ideally be built underground. If that’s not practical, homes should be downsized and built as reinforced concrete domes with concrete block safe rooms in the middle. I’m surrounded by trees and I love them… until they fall on my house or car. Trees really should be cleared for a distance of 100′ from all homes. This is good advice for surviving wildfires as well.

Our planet is changing in such a way as to make human survival much more challenging. The problems are global. Look at Japan, China, Haiti, Chile, Iceland, Pakistan, The Arctic Circle, and America. If we don’t adjust to this new paradigm, we will likely perish. Climate change deniers need to get their heads out of the sand, and those of us with a brain need to let go of the past and begin designing for the future.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. May 29, 2011 12:13 AM

    Exactly right. Now why can’t I get someone to make me a basement?! I’m sure you heard me screaming the other night when the siren went off.

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