The work of God or that of man? Storm-battered Louisians aren’t sure

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Hurricane Delta floodwaters are seen near structures damaged by Hurricane Laura

Lake Charles, United States:

Daniel Schexnayder has ankle-deep water as he stands outside, monitoring damage to his home from Hurricane Laura six weeks before Louisiana was hit by a second storm, Delta.

But he still doesn’t believe in climate change.

“I’m on the other side. I’m with Trump,” said the 58-year-old carpenter just hours after Delta growled destructively in the small Louisiana town of Iowa, just outside of Lake Charles.

And yet scientists agree that global warming is a proven phenomenon, caused by humans, making hurricanes both more frequent and more severe.

This phenomenon has made coastal regions of the United States, including southern Louisiana, much more vulnerable to powerful storms like Laura, in late August and the Delta – with potentially disastrous consequences for human health and safety, the American economy and ecology.

“There are good scientists and there are bad scientists,” Schexnayder said as he stepped out of his van with a can of gasoline to power the generator at his mother’s house.

He said he had learned to live with hurricanes. “It’s nothing you can do, but go with it. And take it as it comes. I mean, we have no control over it, only the good Lord does.”

In the streets of nearby Lake Charles, makeshift signs pleading for divine protection were seen everywhere before Delta arrived; similar denominational calls seemed to be on everyone’s lips.

Louisiana is part of the “Bible Belt” in the southern United States, a conservative and deeply religious region that voted for Donald Trump in 2016.

A 2020 study by a team at Yale University found that among the US states most affected by hurricanes, Louisiana is home to the highest percentage of climate change skeptics (55%).

But most Louisianans interviewed by AFP were unsure of Schexnayder.

Many people said they did not know what caused global warming and natural disasters in recent years.

“It could very well be (global warming),” said Tracy Fontenot, adding, “It might just be, you know, God’s way of doing his thing.”

“And I don’t know what we could do to prevent it,” added the 55-year-old educator.

Sea level rise

But on Friday morning, amid the heavy rain that foreshadowed Delta’s arrival, Kristy Olmster, a 41-year-old electric utility worker, said there was no doubt in her mind.

“Global warming is a real thing,” she grimaced, putting sheets of plywood on her windows and door.

On a nearby street, Arthur Durham, 56, a Texas-born restaurateur, shared this opinion.

“I think those who deny that there is climate change are pretty stupid,” he said.

“I mean, it’s pretty obvious. I’ve lived near the Gulf Coast for most of my life. And, and this – it’s unprecedented. You know, it doesn’t happen without it. ‘human involvement. “

As a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, Durham admits to feeling a bit lonely in the conservative parish of Calcasieu, the Louisiana equivalent of a county.

Donald Trump passed Hillary Clinton in Calcasieu by more than two to one in 2016.

Perhaps, Durham added, economic and cultural factors influence people’s views on the environment.

For example, her son evacuated before Delta arrived to ensure a good internet connection for his training program with Tesla, the electric car maker, but many of Lake Charles’ poorest residents fled just to save themselves. themselves and their meager personal effects.

More importantly, Durham added, may be the pervasive influence of the oil industry.

Louisiana is home to 20% of the country’s oil refining capacity. On a clear day in Calcasieu, one can see or hear the sprawling refineries from miles away.

For the thousands of people who work in the oil industry, Durham said, restrictions on the fossil fuel industries could cost their jobs and their livelihoods.

Yet these same oil companies, with their offshore oil drilling platforms, are increasingly concerned about an inescapable reality: sea levels are rising and hurricanes have become more frequent, more destructive and threatening to their results.

(This story was not edited by GalacticGaming staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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