By Dan Pool
Realizing this is a not a popular subject, I ask readers to give a little thought but in a different manner to climate change. In the age of divisive politics, there is no middle ground so I am not advocating any extreme measures other than giving some consideration from this perspective:
In case there is something to man-made emissions causing climate change which subsequently causes extreme weather it wouldn’t hurt to see if there are things we could do now to limit damage in the future.
Nothing radical there, no plot to let the UN take over the country, not even a scheme with liberal elements to wreck the economy or force some kind of green code.
Consider this a better-safe-than-sorry position, much like the following:
• Insurance for your house – Even if you don’t think your house is likely to burn down this year, it is usually agreed that insurance is necessary to protect where you live.
• Wearing a seatbelt – If you thought it’s scientifically-proven you would have a wreck the next time you drove, you wouldn’t leave the house. However, in the face of an unlikely, but possible, scenario – car accidents do happen frequently – most of us put on a seatbelt just in case.
• If you were experiencing symptoms that medical experts say might signal a heart attack, how much convincing would it take for you to visit a doctor and maybe even make a few lifestyle changes?
I normally don’t address any national issues, and I’m sure a few responses will be this wasn’t the one to start with. But, in this case, it may very well be a local issue as well.
At the annual meeting of the Firewise community held in April at the Monument Road fire station, a forestry official said that he considers the Burnt Mountain area as at a “pretty high” risk of a wildfire. He noted he personally wouldn’t say the words climate change, but then pointed out that over his 20 year career the weather has changed. Specifically he cited a “crazy” increase in the number of days in the southeast with air humidity at very low levels, a noticeable change from the mugginess people associate with the south.
The city of Jasper is still trying to arrive at a cost to replace a culvert on Gennett Drive which has been blown out by floods twice in recent years. Flooding was rarely an issue in Pickens County in the past but in the past few years as one person said, “I will hop in my kayak and go check my garden.”
Weird weather is nothing new and the rest of this year and next decade may go back to stable, normal weather for Pickens and the world. It’s impossible for anyone to say with certainty what the weather will do. But it’s also pretty plain with our weather here and around the world, we are in an unstable pattern and surely no one wants to see Mother Nature even more turbulent.
• Earlier this summer Portland, a place where many didn’t even consider air conditioning a necessity, hit a high of 112, which broke a high of 108 earlier this year.
•The parched American west has more than 80 large fires burning at this point.
• The flooding in Germany and Belgium, which left at least 200 dead, shocked many as two of the wealthiest and most technologically advanced countries’ efforts to contain flood waters, were in hindsight, mostly ineffective.
• Finally, one group that has taken notice of the dollar costs of whatever is happening with the weather, are insurance companies where some are questioning how they will continue covering properties in areas now prone to flood or drought/fire.
Going back to our local situation, if our city keeps replacing the Gennett Road culvert (latest price unknown) or the county has more situations like the portion of Jones Mountain Road that went down in a 2019 mudslide (more than $1.8 million) or the city’s Cove Road, twice closed in mudslides, (latest repair in 2019 was $95,000) things can get expensive.
Besides the costs, who wants the world’s weather to be more frequently turbulent and possibly will get even worse?
Just like insurance, medical check-ups and seat-belts, maybe it’s time to see if there are climate change actions that might help down the road.
The plan of only cleaning up damage after big weather events is no plan.