In David Wallace-Well’s worthwhile and worrying book on climate change – “The Uninhabitable Earth” – he writes this:

The United States Geological Survey… recently “war-gamed” an extreme weather scenario they called “ARkStorm”: winter storms strike California, producing flooding in the Central Valley three hundred miles long and twenty miles wide, and more destructive flooding in Los Angeles, Orange County and the Bay Area up north, altogether forcing the evacuation of more than a million Californians …

Hard to get your head around the idea of evacuating a million people in sudden and stormy circumstances.  Unless you’re Indian, in the impoverished state of Odisha hit by a severe cyclone :

… the authorities, sobered by past tragedies, moved a million people to safety, really fast.  …

On Thursday morning, Odisha government officials released a five-page action plan. They seemed to have left nothing uncovered. The most important part was to get people to the shelters. Since Odisha has been hit by many killer storms, state emergency officers said they had drilled on their evacuation plans many times. …

Krishan Kumar, an officer in the Khordha district of the Odisha government, said the government’s success reflected an accumulated wisdom.

How likely is it that California could do the same? Maybe.  Maybe they have the plans, the training, the experience – and the generals.  Those in charge, those accountable, those with the mandate and resources to face the threat and mobilize people – as Odisha did.

People in the sustainability community tend not to be fans of the idea that we need generals – and should be including them now in our ‘Climate Emergency’ strategies.  But when it comes to evacuating a million people in response to climate emergencies, how could you do without them?


  1. It’s getting warmer. Get used to it. 200, 400 or 600 parts of CO2 PER MILLION makes no difference here.

    Hurricanes, floods or earthquakes not more frequent than 100 or 200 years ago. The only difference is more attention seeking TV or ubiquitous internet, 24 x 7, AND far more humans living today in places where they did not live, or in far smaller numbers than 100-200 years ago ie coastal areas prone to flooding, river flats, dry desert canyons or up volcanoes.

    1. I think I’ll trust the scientists on this one and not a prickly blog commenter who has zero education in climate science. What special kind of outrageous arrogance does it take to boldly assert that you know more than the thousands of scientists from all over the world who study this day in and day out? It’s entirely fascinating and truly scary.

      Thankfully Beyer’s ilk now make up a small and shrinking percentage of society. The truth eventually comes out even as fossil industry propaganda captures and packages the Beyers of the world.

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