Galveston Bids for Darwin Award
Leaders of this fast-eroding barrier island — the scene of the deadliest hurricane in American history — are about to approve nearly 4,000 new homes and two midrise hotels despite geologists’ warnings that the massive development would sever a ridge that serves as the island’s natural storm shield.
Geology involves an awful lot of doomsaying – when you are accustomed to thinking in 10,000-year eyeblinks, rare disasters become ubiquitous threats. But I can understand how people might not be impressed when I tell them that Yellowstone is going to explode or a chunk of the Canary Islands is going to fall off and send a tsunami to New York – when I say “soon” I mean “in the next several thousand years” and really, who thinks that far ahead? Even if we do think that far ahead, how are we supposed to protect ourselves from a supervolcano? We can’t, really.
Hurricanes, though, happen several times per year and cause serious damage several times per decade, which is well within the 30-year timeframes used by planners and mortgage brokers. I expect people to be able to wrap their heads around that. And it’s not so hard to require that a ridge be left intact rather than turned into a decorative lake, or that new developments include a seawall. So the only excuse left is… utter stupidity? Or money and petty corruption?