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MuskokaONline.com News - #GOTLOCAL



Posted: 2022-01-31 16:15:12 By: thebay

Last weekend, I called to check in on an old friend who now lives near Boston in Sharon, Massachusetts. After watching some coverage of the recent “bomb cyclone” or whatever the storm was that hit the East Coast, I thought it was propitious timing to call and find out how my old friend was doing. Roy, or Billy as his friends have called him since childhood, was one of the kids in my neighbourhood when I still lived in Buffalo, NY. His family lived 4 or 5 doors down the street from my family, and while we do not see each other frequently these days, we check in with each other from time to time. Of course, as diehard Buffalonians, we both scoffed at the reports of that recent "crippling" snowstorm, calling it a typical winter day in Buffalo.

There has been much discussion about climate change, and it seems obvious that weather patterns are changing for the worse. That said, the other day, I had a conversation with my meteorologist nephew, Larry, who spends a lot of time recording weather trends and patterns for NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (noaa.gov), and his contention is that, while greenhouse gases and man’s impact on the environment are clearly affecting the weather, it is not clear to what extent. There is ample evidence of catastrophic weather throughout the history of recorded weather events. The extent to which man is in control of those trends is debatable. My nephew gets angry as, according to him, "much of today's meteorological reporting tends to be sensationalistic". He thinks it sends the wrong “sky-is-falling” message. That is not to say that the climate is not changing, but simply that we do not know the extent to which we can affect those changes. He points out statistics that suggest that these weather patterns are cyclical, and that catastrophic weather events have likely been occurring since before the weather was scientifically recorded. Those catastrophes become increasingly apparent as populations swell and civilizations expand.

Years ago, at my nephew’s suggestion, I read a book entitled, “Isaac’s Storm” which chronicled the events leading up to a catastrophic hurricane in Galveston, Texas back in September of 1900. Though the famous San Francisco earthquake in 1906 and the 1889 Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood are much better known natural disasters, the Galveston hurricane killed far more people than both of those two natural disasters combined. “Isaac’s Storm” as it has come to be known, is considered the deadliest hurricane in recorded history, and I’d never heard of it before I read Erik Larson’s book. The storm was named after Isaac Cline who was the Chief of the U.S. Weather Service in Galveston at the time of the storm. Despite the fact that weather forecasting and communications were in their infancy at the time, at least by today’s standards, Cline used his knowledge of meteorology, as well as his intuition, to predict the impending disaster. He is considered by some to be a hero, because he warned the citizens of Galveston a day before the storm hit, and probably saved thousands of lives. That said, his warning came far too late. Years earlier, he had gone on record stating that such a storm would never take Galveston by surprise. The main theme of the book deals with man’s hubris, and the idea that, because we have the technology to predict something, we are safe. If anything has become clear to me in the past year or two, it is that we as a species, have an uncanny tendency to ignore obvious warning signs. Regardless of what we do to mitigate the environmental damage we have already done, we seem to spend more energy predicting than preparing. We can’t even seem to get ourselves on the same page! I am humbly suggesting that the horse is out of the barn and he didn’t look before he leaped.

Remember to pay attention to the lessons of the past. You can exercise your personal freedoms, and you can process “information” however you choose. Go ahead and put your buffalo horns on, rage against the sky if it makes you happy, but one way or another, Nature's Big Momma is going to win. Play nice with the other kids, be kind, and remember to respect Mother Nature. "Human use, population and technology have reached that certain stage where Mother Earth no longer accepts our presence with silence." (Dalai Lamai)


Written by Jamie Oppenheimer ©2022 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED