Watching the coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Michael is disconcerting. The storm, a few scant mph short of being a category 5 monster, devastated coastal communities.
At the risk of seeming callous, my major reaction to news stories like these is to nerd out. This sort of destruction happened at the intersection of global warming and the sort of lax regulatory environment which leads to the construction of flimsy buildings altogether too close to the oceanfront. The IPCC just issued a report detailing the dangers of global warming as the storm was bearing down on the Florida panhandle, most of the residents of which voted for politicians who tried to legislate away global warming, by which I mean any mention of global warming.
I live on a hill in a city of hills but work in a low-lying area near a tributary of the Hudson River, so development in littoral zones holds a particular fascination for me. Beachfronts strike me as particularly bad places to build 'permanent' structures- proper foundations can't be built, storm surges are devastating. One look at the debris left behind by Michael had me thinking uncharacteristically biblical thoughts.
This being the second devastating hurricane to hit the Southeastern US this hurricane season, Michael should be the wakeup call that our government has been ignoring for the past two decades, but I doubt it will lead to substantive policy changes... it seems that not even the primal forces of nature can change the primal forces of nature.