Saturday, September 03, 2005

A World Waiting for Katrina

This photograph below shows what happened in New Orleans...


In 2002!!!


The caption below reads: "It's a matter of when, not if. Eventually a major hurricane will hit New Orleans head on, instead of being just a close call. It's happened before and it'll happen again."

This five part series Washing Away ("It's only a matter of time before South Louisiana takes a direct hit from a major hurricane. Billions have been spent to protect us, but we grow more vulnerable every day.") featured on nola.com more than 3 years back.

But why did this series give this dooms-day prophesy?

...because, as it goes on to say: "Water is never far from New Orleanians. Just outside the city, saltwater intrusion is destroying marshes... Now that cypress trees and other vegetation have died, erosion will accelerate, further stripping the region of its natural protections against hurricanes... With the land around us constantly sinking, our natural storm protection is disappearing. Levees protect us, but they're not enough"

In a way, Louisiana represents a microcosm of the world...

In July this year, a landmark assessment report - Millennieum Ecosystem Assessment Report - part of the UN Millennium Goals was released - and went, by and large, unnoticed in the mainstream media. Its verdict was:

"Over the past 50 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period of time in human history."

e.g.,
  • More land was converted to cropland since 1945 than in the 18th and 19th centuries combined
  • 20% of the world’s coral reefs were lost and 20% degraded in the last several decades
  • Withdrawals from rivers and lakes doubled since 1960
  • 50% of all the synthetic nitrogen fertilizer ever used has been used since 1985
  • 60% of the increase in the atmospheric concentration of CO2 since 1750 has taken place since 1959
    Etc. etc...

    The impact on global climate has been tremendous, as the following graph on increasing floods, in the recent times across the globe, shows:

    Floods Posted by Picasa


    Similarly, about a year back, Greenpeace posted this on their site: "Extreme weather, International — Hurricane devastation in the US, flash floods in Japan and a UK village washed into the sea. As climate change gathers pace, devastation caused by extreme weather is becoming more common."

    Meanwhile, here we are - a planet, that is sitting and waiting for Katrina to happen... so that we remember - attend to - what we know...

    ... and the Standard & Poor's report on "Impact from Katrina Big, but How Big" has the good news for investors of Disaster Capitalism:

    "...The near-term disruption cuts real GDP in the quarter of the hurricane. The damage is limited, however, since activity usually revives quickly after such an event and the expenditures on repair, rescue and reconstruction are offsets... After the current quarter, the impact on GDP is positive because of the rebuilding activity... Fundamentally, all the damage to net domestic product will appear as a positive to GDP over the coming few quarters."

    Sources:
    Washing Away
    Millenium Assessment Report
    GreenFacts
    Global Warning - Greenpeace
    S&P: Report on Impact from Katrina

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