Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Avalances - one thing I don't worry about.
Anders Fagerjord worries about the global warming and fears the end of the world as we know it. It's very, very hard not to point out that rain in Eastern Norway, particularly Oslo in July always makes the people at the other side of the mountains worry about the global climate. While even the specialists share some of his concerns, I want to put at least one of his worries to rest: the worry about the avalances at the western coast taking new paths.

It's not really the avalances choosing new routes, it's the humans who have forgotten how to avoid them. Modern developers plan in new manners: they worry about traffic-flow, about water, waste and electricity and the untapped potential represented by undeveloped land between properties which have to be supplied with cables and piping anyway. And so these spots fill up: nobody have ever seen an avalance do any damage there, right? Sometimes I wonder if these developers all practice the fashionable off-pist skiing...

Most of the recent damage by avalances on modern settlements is due not to global warming, but to urban planners who go by text-books rather than asking the people who have lived in the area. Avalances are after all directed not by temperature, but by the lay of the land - temperature changes influence the probability of an avalance, not the direction it will take. Around here, if you build at the wrong spot probability is a bad gamble: if an avalance can hit your house, sooner or later it will, in this century or the next.

(And do you think I am exaggerating in order to make Volda sound interesting? Avalances are like the wind: something to be considered and included in weather reports, this one from the NATO exercise Strong Resolve this winter/spring.)

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