Hurricanes and Hot Air

Increasingly violent storms put people, and rational thought, at risk

| August 30, 2007

It's been two years since Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, and recovery efforts are still underway and underfunded. The government-sponsored news service Voice of America reports that many New Orleans families are still living in the FEMA trailers designed as temporary emergency structures. What's more alarming is that those families could be stuck in those trailers when another devastating hurricane hits.

Many meteorologists believe that the United States may be in for more Katrina-like storms in the near future. Hurricane Dean, which tore through the Caribbean last week, was the ninth most intense Atlantic hurricane in recorded history, according to Chris Mooney of the Daily Green. Mooney reports that six of the ten most intense Atlantic hurricanes on record -- including Katrina and Dean -- happened in the past 10 years. He's careful to point out that '[n]o one storm says anything about climate change,' but the pattern of intense storms worldwide is definitely cause for alarm.

A new theory coming out of the climate change skeptic world, though, argues that it's time to relax and let capitalism work its disaster-healing magic. A recent post from a go-to-blog for global-warming-skeptics, World Climate Report (WCR), argues that it's 'silly' to devote resources to averting global climate change. 'Global trade and economic development' offer the best chance to stand up to future hurricanes by generating the necessary cash for technologies and infrastructure that can protect people from Mother Nature. To bolster this case, the blogger compares Hurricane Dean and Hurricane Janet, a similar storm that struck Mexico 50 years ago when per-capita income in the country was lower. While Janet killed hundreds of people, according to the WCR, 'Dean killed no one.'

In realty, though, the Los Angeles Times reported (subscription required) a day after the WCR post that Hurricane Dean was responsible for the deaths of eight people in Mexico (not to mention several more in the Caribbean). And New Orleans, squarely situated inside of one of the most economically successful countries in the world, is still reeling from Hurricane Katrina two years after it hit.


Go there >> Two Years After Katrina, Revisiting New Orleans and Its Struggles