Proof Of Tornadoes
I recently drove past St. Louis’ Lambert International airport. You can easily see the boarded up main terminal from the highway. Tornado season has been pretty busy here. The tornado that touched down on Good Friday took out the airport raked a devastating path of destruction all the way from Warrenton, Missouri, far west of the airport all the way to Madison, Illinois. While driving down Riverview Drive that runs along the Mississippi River just north of the city, I ran across an area of freshly splintered trees. No doubt the path the tornado took as it crossed the river to Illinois. And earlier this year a tornado touched down on the north side of the city damaging or destroying a series of homes. That same day a tornado touched down in the suburb of Sunset Hills devastating a number of neighborhoods.
What happened in Alabama and all across the southern states yesterday is just the latest round of twisters to occur in a seriously busy tornado season. As I listened to the local public radio station (probably the only station dedicated to reporting real news on this royal wedding day), it was estimated that the death toll from yesterday’s storm was just shy of three hundred.
As far as tornado activity goes, April is shattering all kinds of records. And to make matters even worse, April isn’t the tornado season’s busy month. That title falls to May. And what if this year is no different than the norm and May picks up right where April left off and then some? Are we looking forward to daily reports about killer tornadoes? And what if this year’s tornado season goes into overtime and June continues to kick our ass?
Is all this related to global warming? Who knows? According to some meteorologist on the PBS news last night, there is a simple scientific explanation for what’s going on and it’s nothing to get alarmed about. From what I can remember there’s this unusually strong jet stream screaming along the upper atmosphere that’s spawning all the tornado activity and not global warming. But is it not possible that it is the affects of global warming that is causing the unusual jet stream? Who knows for sure? The only thing we really can do is wait and see what’s going to happen in the future. The only way for us to know for sure what the weather is going to do tomorrow is to wait for tomorrow and go through it. No matter how refined our weather science gets, for the most part it remains a crapshoot.
For many people, it’s just a coincidence that the past few years has bore all kinds of killer storms. Tornado and hurricane activity has risen to record breaking levels almost on a year by year basis. One hundred and five hundred year storms are happening every few years now. And some of us continue to think that the jury is still out on whether or not we need to do anything to prepare and help minimize the damage we’ve done to our atmosphere. Taking the steps to stop the pollution that might be aggravating our weather problems is way too expensive. Building levees and other defenses to counter devastating weather’s affects would cost too much of our national treasure. We should wait until it is proven beyond a reasonable doubt that there is a connection between human activity and our weather system. And if the proof comes only after we see an even more intense increase in catastrophic weather, oh well. At least somebody is bound to get rich while the rest of us continue to wait for proof.
In the meantime, corporate America will save money by continuing to do what might be helping to give our weather more energy to kick our collective ass. And while somebody is saving money, we will continue to watch the news (when there’s no royal wedding) and see more stories of people who just lost all their worldly possessions. We will continue to watch in amazement at the tornadoes and hurricanes and waves of waters along the coast strike homes and businesses. We will sit back and watch the annual five hundred year floods impact entire cities. We will look at pictures of neighborhoods wiped clean off the face of the earth and will dismiss it all as nothing more than business as usual.
However, if we as a people really took a long critical, thoughtful look at what’s actually going on, we really would see that it would be smart to hope for the best and prepare for the worse. We shouldn’t wait for proof or for things to get worse before we take action and do what we can to protect ourselves. The weather might change back to its more docile and usual self. But it is rather foolish to sit back and think that such wishful, hopeful thinking is enough, especially when the next five hundred year tornado or hurricane or tidal wave or flood is forming in your neighborhood or the neighborhood of your loved ones.
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