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Pray for the best, prepare for the worst

Pray for the best, prepare for the worst Scott McLeod photo

After what Haywood County has been through does anyone want to think about the hurricane season from June 1 to November 30? After watching my office being destroyed in 2004 along with most of Downtown Canton, I sure don’t want to be reminded. But we need to be.

(So here is the excellent Red Cross hurricane/flood preparedness website — just in case redcross.org/content/dam/redcross/get-help/pdfs/hurricane/en_hurricane-safety-checklist.pdf

In September 2004 Hurricanes Frances and Ivan combined to dumped 40 inches of rain on WNC. Fifty-four people in the USA died due to Ivan, which off the coast of Florida produced a 91-foot wave, the largest ever recorded. Twenty billion dollars in damage and untold sorrow. Five people died in Franklin, but miraculously no one in Haywood County. This was spoken of as a 100-year, or even a 500-year event.

But only 17 years later, Tropical Storm Fred dumped 19 inches of rain in the Pigeon River area. We all remember in sorrow the six people who perished and hundreds of damaged homes.

Last year, it got to 103 degrees — in Siberia! Waters off southern Florida recorded 101 degrees. This season’s forecasts are very worrisome, predicting 20 to 24 named storms and 8 to 12 hurricanes. Six may hit the U.S.

There is little debate among climate scientists about what is happening on our planet. Ice core samples from Antarctica date back 800,000 years. They show that since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in the early 1800’s the amount of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere has increased by over 50 percent. The result is the frightening warming of the north and south polar regions and events like the 2020 wildfires in Australia that destroyed 60 million acres (120 Great Smoky Mountain National Parks). We now see more intense and chaotic weather patterns virtually everywhere.

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A recent Mountaineer editorial quoted 2022 Nobel Prize-winning physicist John Clauser as denying any link between the burning of coal, oil and natural (methane) gas and the increase in climate disasters. Dr. Clauser was a brilliant physicist whose work back in the 1970s involved the study of particles of light. But this had nothing to do with climate. He is not a climate scientist and has never produced any climate related research.

The editorial didn’t mention that just one year before Dr. Clauser won his Nobel Prize, three actual climate scientists won the 2021 Nobel prize in physics for their work demonstrating the disastrous link between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change. It will take years, but the transition to clean energy must happen.

To quote the Nobel Prize Committee: “Dr. Klaus Hasselmann created a model that links together weather and climate, thus answering the question of why climate models can be reliable despite weather being changeable and chaotic …. An important result is that the increased temperature in the atmosphere is due to human emissions of carbon dioxide.

If you have a broken hip, you don’t go to a neurosurgeon to fix it, no matter how brilliant the neurosurgeon may be. If you want to understand why our climate is changing dramatically, you ask someone who made climate research their life’s work.

Pray that we in Haywood County don’t face another Ivan or Fred. But just in case, be informed and prepared.

(Dr. Steve Wall is a retired pediatrician who lives in Waynesville.)

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