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  • Writer's pictureErika Andresen

Wishful Thinking

When I do blog posts, I think about them in advance, and then current events throws me off plan. But, hey, I'm agile. It's what I empower business owners to be.

Wishful thinking is having writing on the wall regarding something that either usually doesn't happen or almost never happens. Or...has never happened but there are reasons to believe that course of history will change...and that information is made available to you. Yet, you believe things will remain in the status quo and you'll never, ever have to deal with it.

Let's specifically look at wildfires, earthquakes, and a pandemic.

It is such a shame that Maui is suffering through what is now the deadliest US wildfire in 100 years. There will always be some Monday-morning quarterbacking (kudos to Senator Mazie Hirono for saying she isn't going to make any excuses for the tragedy), but it really is a kick in the pants when instead of "shoulda" and "coulda"s based on theory, there was actual reports about the increased risk of wildfires, the specific recommended actions that should have been taken to reduce the risk, and some straight up "huh, it seems obvious but we didn't think about that" (like NOT activating the largest warning siren system in the US to alert residents of the danger).

Maui County published a report in 2021 that cited to an increase in the number of acres burned by wildfires and that the funds to deal with it were inadequate and, further, that was seen as a "significant oversight." HI's Emergency Management Agency used fires from 2018 to call for a "real-world wakeup" in 2019. Years of drought plus people bringing in a non-native species of grass that was highly flammable were known issues that elevated the risk but were acknowledged but not dealt with. That same report from 2021 recommended an "aggressive plan" to replace the grass, but it doesn't appear local officials did anything. This wildfire was a odd thing, though: the winds from a hurricane that never made landfall is a natural disaster that exacerbated the problem. The western part of the US is used to high winds making wildland fires (and fighting them) worse, but they don't come from hurricanes.

In Texas it is now common knowledge that fracking causes earthquakes. So much so that of the 2,805 earthquakes measuring 2.5 or more, a whopping 2,159, or 77%, of them have been since 2020. The recording of earthquakes with a 2.5 on the Richter Scale started in 1900. This is from induced seismology...which is a result of forcing the wastewater from fracking back into the earth. Either change the fracking practices (like Oklahoma did, which lead to an appreciable decrease in their artificial increase in earthquakes) or do some serious earthquake education, drills, and earthquake-proofing of structures. Both would be ideal, though.

Pandemics. I am a big fan of looking at what exercises major organizations are doing to

prepare. The full-scale exercise held by FEMA in Baton Rouge, LA, "Hurricane Pam" was held summer 2004. It envisioned a Cat 5 hurricane that made landfall in NOLA and breached the levees. They predicted Katrina almost exactly a year to the day. Ready for some scary reality? This a from a headline of an article written November 6, 2019:

Event 201, hosted by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, envisions a fast-spreading coronavirus with a devastating impact

Here, the article is downright scary with its predictions and what they exercised when compared to what happened in 2020, so read it in full yourself. Highlights: private sector and businesses were included to make it more realistic; it was world-wide; and saw, based on how slow the vaccine process was, something like this would be so devastating. Of 195 countries, the average score for pandemic preparedness was a 40 out of a possible 100.

What is common in all 3 of the examples here? Preparedness taken seriously too late. Wishful thinking and taking things seriously tend to be mutually exclusive. Stop the insanity.

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