Hurricane Harbor

A writer and a tropical muse. A funky Lubavitcher who enjoys watching the weather, hurricanes, listening to music while enjoying life with a sense of humor and trying to make sense of it all!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Lessons Learned from Nurgis, The Dust Bowl and Other "Weather" Tragedies...

Why did so many die?

Was this simply random chance and just the way natural disasters go or did mankind have hand in making a bad situation worse?

To understand this question and the answer you first have to understand the geography of the river delta where Cyclone Nargis made landfall.

Check out the deltaic topography by reading more about river delta's to better understand how this happened. It is sorry to say it is a natural occurrence for a delta to flood, however it is not a natural occurrence for people to try and farm these regions or build them up into densely, populated cities.

It's a simple math equation.. delta plus storm surge equals a great tragedy.

Understand that again this was a real worst case scenario because storms in this part of the Bay Of Bengal usually RE-CURVE... off towards the NNW but this time... Nargis didn't follow the game plan or follow the paths of past storms and it hooked east straight into a river delta area that had not seen such a storm in many, many, many years and as there hadn't been one people there.. like here think they are safe and they build and feel safe, a false sense of safety. But, we do it here too! I here people tell me all the time that Jacksonville and Savannah never get hurricanes. Yeah...right... sure.. well, sometimes they don't re-curve and sometimes they do but they re-curve way too late to save "Savannah" as happened in 1893 when possibly as many as 2,000 people died in the Sea Islands Hurricane. Happens.. Andrew was supposed to re-curve too and catch a front but hey... it didn't happen and it turned West and plowed into Miami in the same way that Nargis turned and plowed east into the fragile river delta area of Rangoon.

This post should be titled "Why I am not a Global Warming person vs being an Ecologist and Environmentalist?"

Global Warming we cannot yet prove however the way man farms and lives on Planet Earth we KNOW can make a big difference. We know without a doubt that the farming practices in the first part of this century led to the Dirty Thirties and the Dust Bowl. We learned the hard way that when you change the natural way the land is for short term benefits you reap untold misery and misfortune down the line.

The Dust Bowl taught us what early biblical texts taught people years ago...... that land needs to have a rest at times from being sowed. You farm one part of the field, then another, then another while letting one part rest. The Dust Bowl also taught us that if you denude the land of it's natural habitat the soil in Oklahoma and Kansas will get blown away and be gone with the wind. People came, plowed the dirt, sowed seeds.. had bumper crops and then when there were no more natural grasses to hold the dirt down in times of trouble..the topsoil blew away into the dark sky and little was able to be reaped but misery and tragedy.

The great little boomers with their surreys with the fringe on top had no idea there eager beaver farming practices and hard work wrought hard times upon the area until they learned how to farm in concert with the land's own natural habitat. Time has taught us much about something that should have been a "duh" and that is understanding geography is more than a bunch of maps and boring books.

A region is a river delta for a reason.. you can't fill it in and make it an industrial center or farming region. Prairies exist for a region and you have to work with them not against them. There is a reason that the early settlers of New Orleans lived where they did in the French Quarter as it is not as prone to flooding as other areas now known as the "9th Ward" and that area does not lend itself to being a big, large sprawling suburb. A bayou is a bayou. A river delta is a river delta. A prairie is a prairie.

This is not about Global Warming, we are blaming the wrong culprit here.. it is about an over population of a delicate, fragile, ever changing region known as a River Delta and it's over industrialization combined with poor farming practices. Since time began civilization has crowded into such areas and since time began I suppose there have been tragedies such as this but we have to look at Planet Earth a little more carefully and try to work with it and not against as we have learned much from such tragedies as The Dust Bowl, Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the levee system, Nargis and even the deforestation of Haiti and the poverty level that has risen because of the vicious cycle that has set in there.

And, we must know that if we continue to build mega cities in regions that are barely above sea level we will continue to have tremendous loss of life as well as financial losses in the dollar amount that is almost inconceivable to imagine.

Hindsight is 20/20 and there is an old great saying that is sadly all too true "We are too soon old and too late smart"


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