Thursday, April 28, 2011

I don't remember tornadoes killing so many people

An article in the LA Times today reports that nearly 200 people died in the 24- to 36-hour span during which tornadoes pummeled the South. Doesn't that figure sound way out of line? This page states that only five tornadoes in the U.S. have ever killed more people than this. So it's happened before . . . yet somehow it feels like we're on a roll. There were 183 deaths in Alabama alone. That's insane. Are more on the way? Is this the new norm?

Floods everywhere, tornadoes killing people with regularity -- these events seem shocking to Americans. But I suspect we'll have to get used to it. Climate change has come home to roost. And yet we continue to do zilch about the problem of carbon emissions. As I often say on this blog, what's wrong with this picture?

Welcome to the new United States: powerless in the face of just about every obstacle. Heck, we can't even pick the right countries to start wars with, so I guess it's not surprising.

PS: Whenever there are reports of widespread tornado damage, I think of the loss of intellectual property. Yes, people lost their homes and communities and in many cases, their lives -- and that's awful. But no one ever talks about how many invisible items were lost. Had someone written a book or two and left it only on the computer, which was destroyed in the storm? Were a team's scientific findings and support materials lost? Had someone's physical collection of historic mementos been lost just before the person finally sat down to write that history book? I wonder why this sort of thing is never mentioned in news stories. Surely it's happened.