Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Post 1 August 28, 2012

Og On The Lam Progress Report:
A Pleasant Surprise At Montgomery, Alabama.


And An Epiphany

Og and "She Who Would be Obeyed" (SWWBO) managed to get on the road ahead of the rush as mandatory hurricane evacuations were ordered for parts of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, and Jefferson Parishes. We made it past New Orleans East and over to Mississippi with nothing worse than ordinary week day traffic. Cruising along at the speed limit with the radio tuned to the high power AM channel that was blasting out the storm news we could hear the evacuation traffic breaking out behind us but we had the jump on the crowd and had a pleasant ride into Montgomery, Alabama where we had a much coveted motel reservation. Montgomery was a town that I simply passed through or spent the night in some Interstate national chain motel on my frequent 22 hour runs between Annapolis, MD and New Orleans, LA. I noticed the new car plants on the outskirts and thought that it was pretty cool that anyone was making cars in the Deep South. During most of my youth when the "late unpleasantness" which we then called "the War of Northern Aggression" wasn't even a hundred years in our cultural rear view mirrors it was well known that the Yankee government in Washington did all in its power to keep manufacturing out of the South. They weren't after all about to let us have the makings of a cannon plant. That sentiment on both sides pretty much died out with my Grandparents generation. The south is attracting quite a bit of manufacturing in this "post industrial era". Other than that observation, I hadn't given Montgomery a second thought.

 I selected Montgomery simply because it was about 150 miles east of the pitifully inaccurately predicted storm center and just about 100 miles straight inland from the beach at Pensacola, FL. It was reachable from New Orleans by all Interstate highways in excellent repair and if necessary could just be reached by one tank of gas in our Honda Civic. The other less gas miserly vehicle has been left to its fate in our driveway. Also the city is about 80 to 100 feet above sea level.  It is unsettling  to be a refugee with only an insured home and insured vehicle and several tons of uninsured stuff at risk, with no real risk to income or medical benefits, etc.. Its expensive to do it in style as we are doing, imagine the strain of doing this as a young family with children and pets and tight budget.

 There is no assurance that you will only have to do this once a year if you live on the Gulf Coast. It is unsettling for us because in our sixties we find ourselves cut off from our usual sources of medical care and out of contact with family and friends all of whom make individual decisions on when, where , and how to evacuate. The problem is no one owns a big multi-generational house on high ground that could accommodate the entire extended tribe and withstand Force 3 Hurricane Winds. Also, no one is rich enough to spring for all of the evacuation expenses of several families some with as many as 5 kids in the style to which they would like to become accustomed. So its every nuclear family for themselves. She Who Would Be Obeyed (SWWBO) and I just slink out early because we can and there really isn't anything else you can do in the face of a natural force the size of Texas, and packing all of the kinetic energy of an atom bomb. We are usually resigned to hunkering down and  spending several rainy nights in the best motel room we can come up with at a safe distance for the storms coming ashore point. We really didn't expect much from Montgomery this being a hurricane evacuation trip and all.

 Well, we're here and pleased to report that in fact Montgomery is a pleasant state capitol with a vibrant downtown and River Walk with a nice excursion boat called the HARRIOTT II named for the first commercial steamboat to carry cotton out of Montgomery on the Alabama river down to Mobile on the Gulf for export. But the waterfront here isn't just a backdrop for a steamboat replica, they even hold dragon boat races here. This town that hosts plants owned by global enterprises is way more cosmopolitan than I ever imagined. The landscaping is Old south with a touch of tropicality with various palm trees and plantains in the landscaping, it is after all only about 100 miles north of Pensacola beaches. This is a state capitol with a large population of legal professionals and the types of watering holes and eateries it takes to support that particular brand of Yuppie, the kind of joints that in fact we all like. So being on the lam sucks, being uncertain about the future of your largest single investment sucks. Wondering how your adult children are doing in the face of the beast sucks.

 But if you have to be a refugee, I could think of far worse places to be than Montgomery and I have been in far worse places under far worse circumstances. Having said all that the circumstances do come with some real short comings for someone who is supposed to be spending 8 hours a day on research and writing. First,  I'm confined to some pretty small quarters with SWWBO for the duration. She views my work as "playing with your computer.". We both of course are anxious about what is happening in our home town and the TV is on constantly tuned to news and weather about two feet from my ear where I'm trying to draft my postings. Six hours was spent on driving and most of last night and the hours between 0500 and 0900 CST spent packing up vital papers and some changes of cloths  and my minimal computer gear for blogging on the fly. It is all very distracting. But, in undergoing this experience I am seeing an opportunity to develop a theme for the week.

SWWBO and  I are going through a more comfortable version of a literal affliction that more than a million other storm refugees are going through , many without the resources we enjoy. This is a minor climatic bubble, a heat bubble to be specific that disrupts our usual climatic norms in the short term on an irregular but anticipated basis. These storms come in cycles, sometimes we get a relatively quiet period of twenty years. Then we experience periods of up to five years when the tropics hiccup the heat bubbles that hit our Gulf shores with high winds, rough seas, and tidal surges and send millions scrambling for cover, thousands homeless, and often more than a few dead. All of this from a well known, even expected weather event that is just part of an annual cycle (hurricane season June through November) which increases and decreases on a cyclic basis.

  Now imagine the upheaval from a real dramatic and almost instant climate change that changes entire crop belts, and dramatically affects the world's food and natural fiber supplies. These are the events that come not from a more active hurricane season, or a record blizzard. These are the type of real climate changes that can come from planetary orbit irregularities, axis wobble, solar flares, heavy volcanism, comet and meteor strikes and all sorts of combinations of these events. These are the events that we built the NAMAZU SCHOOL around.

 The NAMAZU SCHOOL is so far just a collection of widely separated blog postings on these sudden and potentially dramatic naturally generated climate changes. The NAMAZU School isn't about the changes that may be occurring because of our own carbon foot print, and may or may not be reversible by our own actions. The NAMAZU School reminds us the dinosaurs died out almost over night, probably due to climate change caused by a giant meteor strike. Something similar has been associated with the woolly mammoths. The questions that the Namazu school wants to discuss are, what are the measures that governments, and industry, and individuals should take to reduce the possibility of human extinction in the event of the next cosmic climatic event. We of course are especially interested in what needs to be done in the maritime sectors. A related question that seems appropriate at the moment may be; should certain cities be abandoned as simply uninhabitable based on increasing frequency of disaster and vulnerability to a major climate change event? Perhaps it is time to bring the widely scattered NAMAZU posts together and address some of the questions. Our goal is to generate comments and hopefully a guest blog or two. After all what the people of the Gulf's major ports are experiencing this week are nothing compared to what will happen with a three foot rise in sea level , not the one that takes a century or more to get here because of green house gases emissions, the one that happens over night because of a meteor strike or similar event.

 Lets start with perhaps the most immediate question. Should we abandon New Orleans?

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