Thursday, September 22, 2005

Hurricane Rita

We are watching Hurricane Rita approach the Gulf Coast with a lot of interest. We have friends, many friends, in the Houston area and also own an apartment in the Museum District (for sale, 4 stories off the ground, concrete structure, interested?) and our website, focalplane.com, is served from Houston. It has already shut down, no doubt mothballed or waterproofed or whatever you do to computers in the path of a Category 5, now 4, maybe 3 hurricane.

Rita appears to be the perfect storm. Looking at NOAA images, the spinning wheel of mass destruction is inexorably heading toward the Houston-Galveston metropolis. What does this have to do with global warming? Quite honestly, not very much. The last calamitous hurricane to hit the area was in 1900 when between 10,000 and 16,000 people perished in Galveston. These storms have been happening for a long, long time. For some reason, as we have become technologically more proficient we have started to believe that we can control such events. In fact, we have largely exacerbated the situation by removing natural shoreline defences, developing areas that were natural defences, ignoring the power of Nature and starting to believe that our technology has the answers.

For Rita, just like Katrina, is a natural disaster that knows nothing about humankind. Rita is not driven by a venegeful god, neither is it a visitation upon America by its enemies' wishful thinking. But it's still a storm and it can still do a lot of damage to life and property. It would be so easy to kneel and pray, wouldn't it? So much harder to face the music and admit that we have failed to appreciate the perennial strength of Nature.

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