Wait a minute. Hurricanes have been a fact of life for the forests of southeastern North America ever since there were forests, and that’s a pretty long time.
The natural vegetation of the coastal southeast consists largely of a mixture of Pine and Oak species. That’s not what it is today, because today’s vegetation isn’t natural. Rather, it’s virtually all a commercial mix of softwoods designed to grow fast and tall, so the trees can quickly be sawed into houses. Today’s forest probably maintains a higher vertical profile than the one that was here before, and it’s also largely protected from fire, but not from hurricanes.
Back before us, believe it or not, weather was pretty much the same as it is now. Consider the very severe drought currently plaguing the Deep South. Remember those forest fires in Georgia late last summer? The only reason they didn’t burn down most of the state’s forests was that they were unnaturally extinguished.
It’s fair to say that the integrated intensity of the southeastern drought may be a one‐in‐fifty year occurrence. That would mean, in a “natural” world (i.e., one without human sprawl) a southeastern forest would go about fifty years before combusting.
Or, perhaps, taken down by a hurricane. Pines and oaks have been around about 100 million years. Hurricanes have been around longer.
Here’s the cool part: the present era. Ninety‐five percent of the last 100 million years were warmer than now. It’s only about 5 million years or so ago that we began to slip into the current ice‐age climate (from which carbon dioxide may mercifully extricate us, some say).