For the past four weeks most of my thoughts have been on Hurricane Michael, its power, and the sheer devastation it caused to our community and our neighbors. Tonight I sat down and watched the nightly news for the first time in a month. It is no consolation, but others in the world are dealing with their own weather issues just as challenging as our own.
The wildfires in California have burned with unprecedented fury these past few days, leaving dozens dead and hundreds missing. People had little time to escape their homes, many leaving their cars beside the road when the fire began moving faster than the traffic. Ninety percent of Paradise, California was destroyed.
I have seen the aftermath of a California wildfire. The scorched path of the fire leaves almost nothing alive. Fueled by the Santa Ana winds with speeds topping 70 miles per hour, the flames of these particular fires can be particularly horrific.
Some of the scenes on televisions were of places I have visited several times, particularly the beach community of Malibu. It was hard to believe the flames were coming down those beautiful mountains toward the sea.
Many homes of the rich and famous were destroyed. Like hurricanes, wildfires do not discriminate. They destroy anything in their path, without regard to wealth or station in life.
It is hard to remember that it was only two months ago that Hurricane Florence left so much of its own devastation in the Carolinas. Unlike Michael, Florence moved very slowly which led to torrential rains that caused heavy flooding throughout several states.
Other weather related events in 2018 have been more subtle, but caused great concern. The length of the red tide or algae bloom along our southern coasts stretched for over 100 miles. Thousands of fish died from the toxins caused by the bloom before washing ashore.
All of these weather events followed the hottest July on record, which was part of the hottest Summer on record. It was a brutal Summer, part of a string of hotter and hotter years for the past few decades.
Something is going on here and it is time we pay a bit more attention. Global warming is a fact and its impact on our planet is increasing at a faster and faster pace. To ignore it as some sort of normal trend or pattern is to ignore science. Doing so puts the future of our planet potentially at risk.
People around here are just too worn out to think about a heavy subject like global warming. Just getting the trees out of our yards saps most of our available energy. However, we have seen what these ever more powerful storms are capable of. Michael was not even a named storm four days before it hit land and became the most powerful hurricane to ever hit Georgia.
One day before too many more years, we will have to face that our own actions are a significant cause of nature’s growing fury. I hope it will not be too late to tame this increasingly angry earth’s wind, water and fire.
Dan Ponder can be reached at [email protected]