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My Blog

Climate, Change, Disaster, Death and Destruction

Today has been declared a day of national mourning in Afghanistan for hundreds, or perhaps, thousands of people killed in a mountain slide last Friday, which engulfed an entire village in the remote northeast along the borders of Pakistan, Tajikistan and China. Some 400 homes were buried in about 50 meters of mud and rocks during a landslide in the Argo District of Badakhstan province; and with the village went some 2,000 souls under rocks and thick mud. As some 600 folks from a neighboring village rushed to attempt a rescue, another mudslide occurred trapping and killing most, if not all, of the rescuers. Surviving villagers are now homeless and calling upon the Afghan government to resettle them elsewhere, away from the mountain. The provincial governor, Shah Waliullah Adib, told the BBC there was no hope for those buried. The search for survivors concluded yesterday.The former village has now become a mud encased tomb.

On March 22, this year, a mudslide at Oso, Washington State, here in the United States, killed 41 people and two people are still missing.

Last week, a serious of tornadoes wrecked havoc across the South and Western U.S. Some 35 people died as a result of the violent storms outbreak across Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kansas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Florida and North Carolina. Most of the deaths occurred in Arkansas, where the head of Homeland Security will tour today, ahead of President Barrack Obama's survey of the region on Wednesday. Moreover, heavy rains last week also collapsed part of a roadway in Baltimore, Maryland, dropping a number of parked vehicles to destruction. In many other jurisdictions subject to the violent weather of the past week, power outages were common place, bridges were washed out and many roadways and interstates were flooded.

More violent weather and associated natural disasters appear to be a modern norm. In 2004, an Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami killed about 250,000 people across Asia. In 2011, another tsunami across Japan killed some 16,000 people with more than 2,000 still unaccounted for. In December 2012, Typhoon Bopha killed about 5,000 people in the Philippines and less than a year later, in November 2013, more than 6,000 people perished in Typhoon Haiyan(Yolanda) in the Philippines.

Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, 2011, witnessed the wrath of a tornado with winds of over 200 miles per hour along a swath of 22-miles. Last May, Moore, Oklahoma, felt the might of an E5 tornado, which touched down in a two-mile-wide path with winds at 210 miles per hour, wrecking the city, killing 24, and injuring 377 . 

No slide ruler nor multi-logarithm device is needed to underscore the fact that acts of nature are becoming more violent. So, it is paramount that those of us, who are privileged to have some warning systems, heed warnings once posted. Stupidity is no excuse against winds in excess of 200 miles per hour. While not all events are predictable, we need to be cognizant of our individual contributions to climate change with a view to decreasing negative impacts on our environs.