Friday, November 10, 2006

Local Effects of Global Climate Change

No sooner had Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski been reelected than the local television media was jumping all over him for daring to speak the truth about Oregon’s climate often being in direct conflict with the over-privileged elite’s favorite delusions.

Kulongoski’s comments implied, not too subtly, that people who build expensive houses in areas that are prone to erosion or flooding or other whims of nature have way too much money and not nearly enough brains. What Kulongoski hinted at is that building in a watershed or perching a vacation home on the edge of a cliff, facing the ocean, isn’t a smart thing to do.

It’s no secret that nature behaves in unpredictable ways. Storms happen, and when they do wind blows and rain falls, unleashing upon the unsuspecting and the unprepared all sorts of discomforts and uncertainties. Rivers rise and overflow their banks; ground saturates and turns to mud and the forces of wind and water cause trees to topple; storm surge erodes beaches and undermines the cliffs that abut them. Nature’s forces are relentless and unforgiving, and no one should be surprised by them or made indignant because of them.

Certain privileges carry certain risks. The price of a spectacular view of the Pacific is that the fabulous McMansion one enjoys it from is at risk of perishing in the next storm. The price of an intimate view of the Sandy River, or any river, is that the viewpoint is at risk of washing away in the next flood. The price of living near a volcano is the risk that, someday, you’ll be blown away by a pyroclastic floe or swept away by a lahar.

While I don’t wish adversity or misfortune on anyone, I deeply resent all the whining and bitching and complaining when disaster strikes those whom invite it. As they lament their bad luck and curse Mother Nature’s cruel acts against them, they should take a hard look into the mirror and stare deeply into the eyes of the idiot that put them in harm’s way.