Tuesday, October 4, 2016
Made Worse by Man
Hurricane Matthew is churning up the Caribbean. Haiti is going to suffer tremendously. A storm of this magnitude is a danger anywhere, but Haiti is especially vulnerable. The island is heavily deforested. Even moderate rainfall causes floods because there is nothing to absorb and slow down the water.
Recent cyclones in the Philippines and China had injuries and loss of life also caused by man made actions. Deforestation, the loss of mangrove swamps combined with building in areas that historically flooded are recipes for disaster. It's not an “Act of God,” when the hand of man is responsible for a disaster being much worse.
The United States has done its fair share of stupidity. Some years ago I was talking to a Floridian who remembers the way it was in the old days. There were no multi-million dollar condos on the beach. Back in the day they had little beach huts. If a storm came by and wiped them out, they'd be out a couple hundred dollars. More often than not they'd rebuild with stuff they found washed up on the beach. No worries.
I'm a little ticked off that I'm going to have to pay higher insurance rates because greedy developers constructed substandard buildings on barrier islands. There's been a huge construction boom since the last last time Florida was hit with major hurricanes.
It's not just Florida. That's been going on all along the coast, in one form or another. Hurricane Sandy showed that even New York was in danger.
There will be storms, but the actions of man can lessen or increase the impact. All this stuff is well known. The problem is that those who profited are not the ones who will pay the price. You can bet that most of the ones who profited from coastal development will not be around when the storms hit. What do they care if an old real estate project gets wiped out? They'll probably hurry to cut deals to build new places for the next batch of suckers.
We can point our finger at Haiti for deforesting their land, but that's caused by desperate poor people with no other good options. They need wood for cooking fires. It's a vicious cycle as a lot of that wood is used to boil water to make it safe to drink and it's unsafe because of deforestation.
If the Matthew impacts the United States that's what will be in the news. Haiti will be forgotten, even though they will most likely have the most human suffering.
So many times people say it's bad luck when often it's mostly bad planning.