Hurricane Watch: These aren’t ‘natural’ disasters

There’s a smart perspective in The Washington Post this week called Why it’s time to stop calling these hurricane disasters ‘natural,’ by MIT professor of atmospheric science Kerry Emanuel. He argues that it’s really on us because we’re making these disasters worse in two ways: by our flawed coastal policies (e.g., through interest groups manipulating insurance premiums down, thus not reflecting the true risk of coastal living), and by our acceleration of climate change which makes the storms more intense.

Professor Emanuel: “We must first recognize the phrase ‘natural disaster’ for what it is: a sham we hide behind to avoid our own culpability. Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires are part of nature, and the natural world has long ago adapted to them. Disasters occur when we move to risky places and build inadequate infrastructure.”

Miami Beach a year before the Category 4 storm of 1926, and this year. The reinsurance firm Swiss Re estimates that a similar storm would inflict more than $200 billion in damage if it hit Miami today. (The New York Times)

Miami Beach a year before the Category 4 storm of 1926, and this year. The reinsurance firm Swiss Re estimates that a similar storm would inflict more than $200 billion in damage if it hit Miami today. (The New York Times)

 

 

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