Katrina – people beginning to ask questions

Amid the ongoing state of emergency, chaos and destruction, not to mention mortalities, in the three southern states due to Hurricane Katrina, questions are now starting to be asked re possible causes and if the disaster could have been limited if not avoided.

Can lessons be learnt to avoid similar calamities in the future?

Why city’s defences were down

Cuts in spending to raise levees blamed on cost of war in Iraq

John Vidal, environment editor, and Duncan Campbell
Thursday September 1, 2005
The Guardian

The Louisiana coastline may have been so badly damaged by the hurricane because manmade engineering of the delta has led to erosion of natural defences, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers.

The engineering of the last 100 years that has reworked the Mississippi delta with thousands of miles of levees and flood barriers to protect communities and aid navigation, has also disturbed natural barriers which traditionally prevented storm surges and protected against hurricanes, says the society.

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“Human activity, directly or indirectly, has caused 1,500 square miles of natural coastal barriers to be eroded in the past 50 years. Human activity has clearly been a significant factor in coastal Louisiana land losses, along with subsidence, saltwater intrusion, storm events, barrier island degradation, and relative sea level changes,” the society said in a paper last year.

It warned that “New Orleans and surrounding areas would now experience the full force of hurricanes, including storm surges that top levee systems and cause severe flooding as well as high winds”.

The damage done this time may be also linked to White House cuts in funding for hurricane defence to pay for homeland security terrorist defences.

Lloyd Dumas, professor of political economy and economics at the University of Texas at Dallas, criticised the government’s failure to oversee a more efficient evacuation. “It’s remarkable that with the massive restructuring of the federal government that took place with the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, they don’t have more well thought-out plans to evacuate a city like New Orleans,” he said.

“An emphasis should be placed on plans that have multiple purposes, like evacuation plans for a city like New Orleans that can of course be useful in the event of a terrorist attack but also in the event of a natural disaster like this one … There were plans during the cold war to evacuate major cities in a few days.”

Professor Dumas added that not enough provision seemed to have been made for poor people. “There doesn’t seem to have been much attention paid to people who didn’t have private automobiles,” he said. “I didn’t hear anything about school buses or city buses being used to aim people out of town.” He said that there appeared to be little forward planning to cater to those on low incomes who would be unable to return to their homes for up to two months but who would not have the money to pay for that time in a hotel. “The Department of Homeland Security says on its website that it deals with natural disasters,” he said. “They don’t seem to have done a very good job. There doesn’t seem to have been any long-term planning.”

The war in Iraq was also being seen as playing a part in the federal response to the crisis. Many members of the National Guard who would normally have been swiftly mobilised to help in evacuation are on duty in Iraq. Although US air force, navy and army units were deployed to assist, the locally-based National Guard is depleted by the demands of the war.

New Orleans, which is in a natural basin on the Mississippi floodplain, is on average about six feet below sea level and theoretically protected by the most sophisticated levee system in the world. According to the US corps of army engineers, which is responsible for maintaining flood defences, more than 1,200 miles of levees and floodwalls have been built to protect the city from the Mississippi and from hurricanes.

The corps has long wanted to strengthen some of the levees which have been sinking, and on its website yesterday said it planned to build a further 74 miles of hurricane defences. But according to local media, it was last year refused extra funding by the White House which wanted to save money to pay for homeland security against terrorism. “In its budget, the Bush administration proposed a significant reduction in funding for south-east Louisiana’s chief hurricane protection project. Bush proposed $10.4m, a sixth of what local officials say they need,” reported Newhouse News Service yesterday.

Local officials are saying, the article claimed, that had Washington heeded warnings about the dire need for extra hurricane protection, including building up levees and repairing barrier islands, “the damage might not have been nearly as bad as it turned out to be”.

Last year Walter Maestri, emergency chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, one of the worst affected areas, reportedly told the Times-Picayune newspaper: “It appears that the money [for strengthening levees against hurricanes] has been moved in the president’s budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that’s the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can’t be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us.”

In June 2004, the corps’ project manager, Al Naomi, went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and requested $2m for “urgent work” that Washington was now unable to pay for. “The levees are sinking,” he said. “Everything is sinking, and if we don’t get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can’t stay ahead of the settlement.”

Katrina in numbers

110 dead in Mississippi alone; hundreds more feared dead across wider region

5m people without power

400,000 inhabitants flee New Orleans

40,000 in 200 Red Cross shelters, including 23,000 holed up in Superdome stadium

3,000 people rescued by boat and air

90% of coastal buildings in Biloxi and Gulfport destroyed

6 metres of water in New Orleans

80% of city flooded

$26bn clear-up cost

  • WestChick

    It’s a little apt for me that after Dubya’s declarations that there is no Global Warming he is struck with something like this. Also after the G8 and his reluctance to give aid to dictatorial states, should we really be helping the US with the emergency when they are refusing to help other poorer countries?

  • chucklebean

    The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was stronger than this one, before the Kyoto Protocol, global warming, or American indifference to both. It’s ridiculous to blame Bush for this – he’s been in office four years, hardly long enough to affect climate change. And surely it’s proper human decency to use this unparalleled disaster (in American terms) as an opportunity to exact revenge over our possibly wayward policies by withholding aid?

  • circles

    Chucklebean:
    Agreed the first post showed a slight degree of Schadenfreude. However I agree completely that the question of emergency help should really be posed.
    After all with 4 billion plus USD a month bleeding into Iraq, and the largest military expenditure in the world the question has to be asked if the states actually can’t help themselves by reallocating funds to american citizens.
    Additionally picking out a single event from the past isn’t helpful here. Global warming is an accepted fact amongst climatologists, and very few actually doubt that human activity is responsible for this.
    Bushs refusal to sign up to the Kyoto protocol has of course not caused global warming, but his administration are deliberately taken no action to reduce the worst effects that are yet to come.
    Above all the article unfortunately does prove the old adage that if you sow the (desert) storm, you reap the whirlwind.

  • Keith M

    “It’s a little apt for me that after Dubya’s declarations that there is no Global Warming he is struck with something like this.” Hurricanes like this have been hitting the Gulf Of Mexico since time began, the impact has more to do with where they hit land.

  • Harry Flashman

    Oh for heaven’s sake we’re not still banging on about the Kyoto Protocol are we? No major economic power signed up for this protocol (at least not in any meaningful way) George Bush was merely honest to admit it was a load of pious bunkum based on junk science.

    The only western nation which honestly applied themselves to Kyoto was New Zealand and it has resulted in this small genuinely clean green nation facing massive fines which will be paid to Russia and China two of the world’s biggest polluters.

    You know I realise Northern Ireland is a small parochial place in which the few “intellectuals” slavishly follow all the talking points of the Guardian and the Irish Times but could someone try examining issues regarding the US with a somewhat more sceptical attitude than the kneejerk “It’s Bush’s fault!”.

    Hurricanes have been hitting this stretch of coast since the beginning of written history and as has been pointed out there have been a helluva lot worse than this one before.

    Any examination of the political basis of the US will realise that the responsibility for flood prevention lies with the state government not the federal government. Guess which political party the New Orleans mayor and the state governor belong to? I’ll give you a clue it starts with’D’. The incompetence of these people with relation to evacuations, shelter and law enforcement (the New Orleans police are shockingly corrupt and some officers were seen getting involved in the looting) could fairly be contrasted with the prompt Federal response of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard.

    Indeed it’s also worth pointing out that the refugees in the New Orleans Superdrome were subjected to power cuts, leaking roofs, blocked up toilets and even gang criminality. They have been evacuated at 24 hours notice to the Austin Superbowl in Texas where food, airconditioning and hot showers were laid on for them. This was organised by the Texas Governor whose political party begins with ‘R’.

    I will accept that this is perhaps an unfair characterisation but I will stick by it until the automatic ‘Blame Bush first’ crowd learn to address discussions about US political issues without their usual foam flecked venom and learn to think outside their usual boxes.

  • circles

    Harry:
    Who exactly blamed Bush for this?
    I don’t see a single post where the hurricane is said to be Bushs fault.
    And regarding Kyoto – I think your assessment is completely wrong. Firstly New Zealand is far from being western – maybe you meant something else yb that phrase. Secondly, the states and australia (I think) were the only major industrialised countires who are not on board.
    Now you may dismiss the hypothesis that reducing carbon dioxide emissions to the atmosphere will reduce the rate at which average global temperatures are rising as junk science – but what else would you suggest? Carry on and hope that’ll stop if we’re not looking?

  • Duncan Shipley Dalton

    As stated on another thread the discussion of global warming seems premature although the event could at least eventually help to turn public opinion back against those tossers peddling ‘the science is not clear nonsense’.

    The real travesty is how a nation that is supposed to have spent 4 years preparing for a major terrorist attack has not even succeeded in having a major city, and major terrorist target, like New Orleans implement a clear and effective evacuation plan. It doesn’t actually shock me as my experience of a lot of homeland security is of fights over money for other pet projects with homeland security slapped onto the top. It’s mostly just a scrabble for federal funds with seemingly little real and effective planning going on. But maybe I just haven’t seen the right bits. The real tragedy is that so many of these people will still go out next time and vote for the same dicks who have left them so vulnerable and who fail them at a time like this. It’s a shame that government in the USA can’t just for once be made really accountable. I suppose as was once said :

    “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
    H.L. Mencken (1880-1956)

  • foreign correspondent

    ´George Bush was merely honest to admit it was a load of pious bunkum based on junk science´

    I have no idea if this hurricane was connected with man-made climate change or not but I take issue with the junk science comment. Almost every day there are news reports connected with rapid climactic changes: shrinking glaciers, animals, bird and insects moving to new territories. Not so long ago the National Geographic Magazine publish an article with a long list of climate change indicators. Are all these reports really just the product of junk science, or barefaced lies that are part of some lefty scientific and journalistic community-based conspiracy???

  • willis

    Duncan

    “The real travesty is how a nation that is supposed to have spent 4 years preparing for a major terrorist attack has not even succeeded in having a major city, and major terrorist target, like New Orleans implement a clear and effective evacuation plan.”

    Bang on the money!

    Harry Flashman

    Blaming local officials is pointless. Of course a sports stadium 350 miles from New Orleans is going to be in better nick than one in the epicentre of a hurricane. I’m sure facilities in the western seaboard Democrat states are in pretty good nick too. DOH!

  • Occasional Commentator

    circles said:
    Global warming is an accepted fact amongst climatologists

    I don’t really know what to think about global warming, but the fact that a large proportion of scientists agree on something doesn’t prove anything. Science is riddled with examples of muddled thinking and outright ignorance, and it’s no better today than in the past. One minute we’re told that fat is bad for us, then a few decades later they decide that some types of fat are actually vital. We were told that all salt is bad for us, now they tell us we do need some after all. We were told to avoid the sun at all costs, and then they discover that avoiding the sun completely is a hell of a lot more dangerous than getting a “sensible” amount of sun. Most physicists today will swear that the universe has lots of dark matter, when clearly this is as much based on fantasy as was the famous “ether” which was posited in the 19th century. Most evolutionary biologists can’t work out a reason for the success of sexual reproduction (as opposed to asexual reproduction), when pressed for an explanation they give a nonsense answer because as a group they are too embarassed (like most scientists) to admit they don’t really know. If they admitted that they didn’t know everything science could make a lot more progress – there are much more plausible theories about sexual reproduction and cosmology than the excuses for theories that do the rounds at the moment.

    Science is as susceptible to myth and rumour as can be. The problem isn’t with science itself, but with the public perception of science (and the science “community” is partly to blame for the perception). Schools should teach more about the controversies, modern and historic, that affect scientific progress. And scientists shouldn’t pretend to be more certain than they are, although it’s probably because and honest scientist, who admits his/her doubts, might find it harder to get grants.

  • circles

    OK OC, put it like this.
    Average annual global temperatures ARE increasing according to worldwide measurements. Deserts ARE expanding, glaciers ARE melting, droughts ARE occurring in southern and central europe more often (see foreign correspondents post).

    Of course the myth of the all saying, all knowing scientist has replaced in many ways the clergy as our direct link to tha all knowing, and of course science does not know everything, but this still does not mean that these things are not happening.

    So I’ll change what I said – Global warming is a fact.

  • Irish in America

    Yes, it is Bush’s fault. While he was strumming a guitar on his ranch (http://cunningrealist.blogspot.com/), hundreds (we’ll soon see thousands) died, and a city is destroyed. We knew this was coming, and he did nothing. At least he was good enought to end his 5 wk vacation.

    The money to rebuild/fix the levees was sent to Iraq-authorities in N.O. knew this was a major problem, and the Feds did nothing. FEMA was dismantled, and turned back into a political appointee haven, and not a place for disaster relief. For 2 years now, lefties have been saying “this is going to be the end of W”, but now he’s finished. Never before has someone been so out of touch during a time of crisis.

  • Occasional Commentator

    OK then, the planet is warming. The question is how the warming has been caused, if indeed it was caused by anything in particular. I should have used this quote from you:
    and very few actually doubt that human activity is responsible for this.

    I used the wrong quote of yours, but the point of my post still stands – on the controversial issues, there is very little link between “being a popular theory among scientists” and said theory “turning out to have been correct”.

    If anything I’d say that the underdogs usually turn out to be right, because they’d have to be pretty sure of their thinking to keep making a fuss when they’re in the minority.

    Scientific debates should usually be left to run their course, we can never really be sure what’s true, so we should wait until 99% of scientists agree. If there’s a big disagreement, it probably means both sides are wrong, after all the side which is right should hopefully have good evidence and a convincing argument.

    But the usual procedure was thrown out with the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change – or something like that). The politicians ordered the scientists to come up with a consensus. You can’t/shouldn’t tell scientists to arrive at a consensus. The only genuine consensus in science is when all the scientists are happy that they’ve had enough to to investigate everything they want to investigate. If one scientist keeps arguing, it’s not because he’s being awkward or selfish, it’s actually because the majority have failed to come up with convincing science. What the IPCC did was the equivalent of asking scientists “What’s 2+2?”, and then saying “2+2=6” because most scientists either said 5 or 7. If the debate had been allowed to run it’s natural course they would be more likely to reach the correct answer.

  • harry flashman

    Global warming is far from accepted scientific fact, read the Sceptical Environmentalist, it shows that huge amounts of ‘facts’ about the subject are in fact wild politically inspired conjecture.

    I well remember in the 1970s being told in no uncertain terms by the same doom mongers that a new ice age was on the way on the basis of a couple of bad winters, oh and also that the world’s oil would run out in 20 years! I don’t listen to their mumbo jumbo any more.

    The green movement has been correctly defined as a watermelon – a thin green skin covering a mass of red to the core. It is no surprise that following the total and abject collapse of Marxism in 1989 the Green movement sprang up to attack the liberal/democratic/free market society. The society which has incidentally provided the greatest boost to health,liberty, well being, education, scientific advancement in the history of the human race.

    I used to listen to this stuff in the 1980s as a student I ain’t buying it no more.

  • circles

    Harry:
    The Sceptical Environmentalist,is itself extremely controversial given the rather shadowy background of the book and the authors road to damascus conversion from environmentalism to the cause of consumption. A read review where it was slated as a propaganda publication.
    The rest of your arguments Harry are simply ignorant. To defend free market economics against sustainable approaches to environmental management makes absolutely no sense, even rabid capitalists realise this. Your views on the state of the planet are equally ignorant.
    Just travel briefly outside of your industrialised nation to see the real damage the environment has sufferred as a result of mindless consumerism – the model does not work.

  • Gum

    Destruction, refugees, fires, looting, Bush sunnily declaring “there’s not a doubt in my mind!” that things will improve…

    Remind ayone else of Iraq?

  • harry flashman

    Circles, for your information I am currently living in a developing nation (that’s the correct terminology for the third world now isn’t it?) I’ve been here for several years now so I need no lectures about travelling from the sort of people whose world view was formed in the Jordanstown Student Union circa 1985 and who haven’t moved on since.

    One of the things that has become clearer and clearer to me is that the current, developed world method, of societal governance aka “the West” and going even further the Anglophonic example is far and away the best guarantee of health, education, freedom and security available at this time or indeed any other time in the known history of the world.

    If you know of any other form of society in the history of the planet Earth which has produced as many benefits for the human race as this one has please feel free to cite it and contradict me.

    But you know what? It’s not just imperialist supremacists like me (I don’t need a sarcasm tag there do I?)who feel like I do. The curious thing is that the more I travel the more I meet people desperate to create similar societies in their own home countries. Democratic societies where property rights are respected and where socialist (or fascist) ideologues can’t just sieze control of the radio stations in the morning and reorganise the society on some half baked ideology thought up by hare brained intellectuals in western universities which despise the western model which nurtured and protected them. Year Zero, where the corruption of capitalism and the city is replaced by a return to innocent agrarianism, might appeal to western radicals but to the survivors of the Killing Fields and the Cultural Revolution such charming environmentalism sums up only unbridled horror.

    These people dream of societies like ours where their children can grow up in peaceful prosperity, does that make them ravening capitalists? I doubt it, it but I still wouldn’t fault them even if it did. As one guy in India once said “I dream of emigrating to America”, “Why?” I asked, “Because I want my children to grow up in a country where the poor people are fat!” Can you really argue with his logic?

    If your such a fan of the Green movement move out of your home and live in the forest like our primitive ancestors did, that is the only logical course to take if you oppose fossil fuels, capitalism, globalisation, Western laws etc. heck even better fly to New Orleans right now where this has all broken down and create your new millenium there, hmmmm, not so pretty now is it?

  • Angel

    (the New Orleans police are shockingly corrupt and some officers were seen getting involved in the looting)

    Most of these officers were not helping the looters, they seen the dispair in the people. The news shown pictures of people running from stores with shopping carts, arms, and rafts full of “stolen” goods. What the camera didn’t show was some of these same people distributing these goods amongst the crowd of dumbfounded victims. In situations like these there will ALWAYS be those who prey on the weak. One news clip shown an armed officer standing infront of a store while people came out with loads of supplies and was quoted saying “I can’t tell ya it’s ok, but you have to do what ya can to survive”. These people, mostly poor, were plucked off of roof tops, pulled out of attics,and ferried out on makeshift rafts to what? A hot and desolate roadway and left there with no water,food, communication, medical attention or hope. Loads of National Guard trucks rattled through the streets EMPTY as victims spoke to the media hoping for some help. One woman’s husband had passed away in the night, for four hours she tried in vain to get some help. Finally she flagged someone down only to be told “You might want to get someone to help you move the body , it’ll start stinking before too long “. A plan of action does nothing if it’s saved to your laptop which is sitting on your desk under 30 foot of water. The ones in charge are just as dumbfounded as the rest.
    You can’t fight mother nature but evacuation plans should’ve been in place. New Orleans was a bog before it was developed and will continue to try to return to that state, nature will reclaim what was taken from her.

    And what about the gators?

    Those who chose to stay in there homes have one more thing to worry about.

  • Occasional Commentator

    There are a number of quite separate issues being discussed here:

    1) Did humans cause global warming?

    2) Are there other environmental issues we should worry about? For example, conservation of endangered species, GM crops et cetera.

    3) What’s the “best” economic and political system?

    Most would agree that the system in the West is the best. We’re only arguing about what use we should put our power to. For example, if the full might of our economic and technical power was deployed to protect the environment then environmentalists would love capitalism – most already do. And talking about the Killing Fields and the Cultural Revolution tell us nothing about capitalism or technology, they just tell us about Communism. There’s no reason a democratic, capitalist and technological society couldn’t live in the countryside in an agrarian paradise (although maybe we should cut the population a bit first).

    There are a lot of problems in capitalist, democratic, technologically advanced countries but those problems aren’t caused by capitalism. It’s natural to look after yourself, at the expense of the environment if necessary, every civilisation does it, it’s just that the West are more efficient in their interactions (positive and negative) with the environment.

    Also, it’s quite natural for people to trample on others when necessary to advance their own agenda. The gap between rich and poor is a sympton of humanity, not capitalism. The West’s poor are the richest poor in the world.

    If/when humanity decides it would like to look after the planet and all it’s inhabitants, the West’s model will be the obvious way to go about it. And also, we need to wait until the scientists actually know what, if anything, needs to be done.

    harry, I think that:

    First world = Developed world (e.g. the West)

    Second world = Devoloping world (e.g. South America, China and India)

    Third world = Undeveloped world (e.g. Africa)

  • Fade

    In Texas as we speak, watching the people stranded. They have suspended rescue operations due to lack of manpower and violence in New Orleans at this moment. I blame this on Bush. Our National Guard, which has been our first line of defense against National Disasters, is not here. We have a miniscule police force, and Bush waits 3 days before mobilizing every additional resource we can as well as refusing Aid from Canada and Russian due to “Homeland Security” Concerns. The levee damage was the cause of most of the damage, and thats because for the past three years the Bush administration has refused to give the full amount of funds to repair them, instead funding,. again, “Homeland Security”. But the main reason I suspect that Bush hasnt rushed to help is because the main people affected are poor and black. Yesterday he’s playing a guitar at a concert, making bs comparisons of Iraq vs. WWII. People here are pissed completely. Dont let the Government controlled media fool you. People are extremely upset with the way Bush is mishandling our country and handing it over to the rich elite and corporate interests. Homeland Security is supposed to be able to evacuate a city in an instant in case of a terrorist attack. Our Bumbling President didnt couldnt get this done with 4 days prior notice. No major emergency personnel were ready to go. 3 days later, he mobilizes. Do i Blame our president? HELL YES

  • Shay Begorrah

    When you hear the phrase “junk science” or hear TSE mentioned as a balanced look at environmental issues you have entered right wing talking point country, probably turned out by some Bush youth member in the American Enterprise Institute.

    To ram it home “JunkScience.com” is a corporate funded web site “debunking” the “myth” of climate change.

    Lastly Bjorn Lomborg is not a scientist. He is an economist of a right wing bent preaching an absurd but simple to grasp reductionist view of the world (not unlike Freakonomics). Tiresome stuff.

  • jamesonandwater

    I’m sympathetic to those who wonder what the hell happened to all the money spent on disaster planning – right now, they’re trying to figure out how to have the various response personnel communicate with each other (an issue that we seem to have been discussing here in New York for four years) and the NOLA mayor’s exasperation over the “too many cooks” is telling. But it’s fair to say that it would have to be a helluva terrorist attack (something nuclear? I don’t know) which would cause similar problems to this hurricane/flood.

  • chucklebean

    I blame the Bush Administration for bumbling through this awful mess, but certainly not for global warming. Those are two different issues entirely.

  • Bob

    I’m up there, so, I can look back on other similar events. When I was a young man, stealing, in a catastrophic event, was a death sentence, plain and simple. Imeidiate(sp), of course.

    Bob

  • Katie

    where are you from that stealing is a death sentence????? not america.

    Ken Lay has not even been tried yet, 5 years after enron.

    they are stealing what they need to survive. you WOULD steal water if you were dehydrated and hungry, you KNOW YOU WOULD!!! they are also stealing poseesion, not necesarrilly to have them but to be able to change into a clean pait of pants. they are stealing anything that is not nailed down, it is very possible that one could trade a plasma TV for nonofficial ride out of there in a less than moral FEMA truck. or a reporters car. we should kill ’em? a death sentence bob? shame on you.

    You steal because you are hungry, they steal because they are thieves, eh bob?

  • Bob

    Kat-
    You expand the issue to make your point. Common to those who have opinions, not facts. Shoot the looters, plain and simple.

  • Katie

    bob there is not a city in america that has more than a three day supply of food if transportation is disrupted, not one city bob.

    a large portion of nolas food supply was lost in the storm, an even larger portion has rotted in the 90 degree nola temperatures, people are starving to death bob. end of story.

    and we are allowing it because it is much easier judging them than ourselves bob.

    this country has made thousands of aerial food drops in the last ten years bob. why have we not done that in Nola yet? we have known of Katrinas existence for 9 days now bob. there have been dozens of books describing EXACTLY what would happen if the leveees broke. National geographic ranked a hurricane in new orleans is the top three worst things that could happen to our country. Terror attacks in NY, Earlthquakes in Cali and this. why were we not prepared? why have we not been able to at least make aerial food drops? are we bankrupt? ethnic cleansing? completely stupid? none of those things are acceptable.

    these people are starving to death you asshole. As a member of the “culture of life” I suggest you take your head out of your butt and start having respect for life other than that of fetuses and the braindead. get a clue bob!

    we have had four days to drop food and clean water onto high ground near pockets of people, there is not a city in the US that takes four days to fly from, we could have flown food in from ALASKA many times over in four days bob.

    YOU WOULD STEAL IF YOU DID NOT KNOW WHERE YOUR NEXT MEAL IS COMING FROM BOB!!!! everybody knows you are a liar when you say you won’t. Liars are worse than starving thieves bob. Your morals are HIGHLY questionable.

  • Comrade Stalin

    “The Galveston Hurricane of 1900 was stronger than this one, before the Kyoto Protocol, global warming, or American indifference to both.”

    Large-scale human industrial activity has been going on for much longer than that. The Kyoto protocol wouldn’t have stopped this disaster, but events should at the very least suggest that we need to do more to understand why these storms seem to be happening, and find out what we can do to mitigate the damage.

    “No major economic power signed up for this protocol (at least not in any meaningful way) George Bush was merely honest to admit it was a load of pious bunkum based on junk science.”

    Global warming may be disputed, but it is not junk science; I very seldom hear of scientists attempting to refute it (that tends to come more from politicians and business interests). The theories involved are valid ones and they are there waiting to be disproved. If you’ve got alternative theories that better fit the available facts concerning the size of the ice caps, weather patterns or sea levels, then let’s hear them.

  • WestChick

    Bob,
    these looters are desperate people trying to stay alive through things most of us will never have to know, thank god. What about a little compassion?
    Harry
    I may be a greenie and I may think the world is a resource to be used wisely, but I have never been accused of communism for that belief….Not really sure how you link the two at all except maybe they are both types of people who you obviously have a problem with!!

  • WestChick

    Bob,
    these looters are desperate people trying to stay alive through things most of us will never have to know, thank god. What about a little compassion?
    Harry
    I may be a greenie and I may think the world is a resource to be used wisely, but I have never been accused of communism for that belief….Not really sure how you link the two at all except maybe they are both types of people who you obviously have a problem with!!

  • micktvd

    I think that the link between rising temperatures in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and the ability of hurricanes there to intensify rapidly is a fairly straitforward one. Hurricanes have been intensifying there since the seventies. Frequency is another matter.

    Arguments that links such as this are ‘red’ plots is a dangerous distraction. There are of course lots of real debates and questions within science about aspects of human caused climate change. But the arguing about whether it is happening is over.

    Here in Australia, science courses in high schools- where I teach- would no more think of questioning the fundamental consensus on this than they would think of presenting ‘Intelligent Design’ as an alternative theory to Evolution.

    As to whether Katrina, itself was caused by global warming and what link this has to Bush and Kyoto, etc. these are more political and social judgements.

    By the way, how did we get from hurricanes to communist atrocities. A bit of whataboutery, perhaps.

  • Mick Fealty

    Some scientific references might be in order.

    The US Goverment’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s take on the Paleo (ie, long) view of Global Warming. It emphasises the need to see recent developments within the context of thousands of years of climatic change.

    Those taking a shorter view can be roughly divided into the pessimists, and the optimists on the effects of climate change. Spiked had a piece recently that suggested Europeans were verging on hysteria on the subject.

    Good local-ish blog piece here. And finally: will New Orleans ever be rebuilt?

  • Katie

    Harry flashman, I have to take issue with your statement on property rights, the US has just reworked it’s imminent domain laws, it has alwaye been possible for our government to confiscate your house to build a freeway, or a school, now it is also possible for the government to confiscate your property for a private corporations benefit. (Raze your house for a walmart) as long as the city powers that be deem it beneficial to the community.

    Its perfectly legal.

    no we are not as bad as the kmer rouge, wait, are we? we are letting our own, taxpaying people die of starvation and disease just hours away from us and doing nothing.

  • harry flashman

    Katie, as the Americans would say you’re singing to the choir honey. I find the ’eminent domain’ business to be one of the most shocking breaches of US constitutional rights in the past half century.

    Shay Begorrah, I’m not even going to consider your argument, it is so typical of the leftist mindset to simply label any independent thinker who challenges their viewpoint as a sinister right wing conspirator; if you can’t logically defeat their argument take them down to the basement of the Lubyanka right?

    Micktvd, you and your ilk are what makes me despair of public education, where no point of view that challenges the official agenda may be discussed. In the 19th century no Australian schools taught anything other than that the British empire was good and that England was the mother country and no dissenting voice was permitted, after all who could possibly argue against something so self evident? So now you sheep like teachers have merely swung the other way and brainwash your pupils with your own blinkered preconceptions, hey cut the kids a little slack and allow them to think for themselves for a change let them make their own minds up.

    You know the more I listen to the Green movement the more it seems like a religion whose tenets are simply not up for debate and anyone who steps outside the fold and challenges its teachings must be hounded down and persecuted as a dangerous heretic, Ljumberg is a witch burn him! Shay you’d have loved Salem.

  • micktvd

    Harry Flashman, please don’t despair for public education. We are still perfectly capable of recognising official agendas and legitimate dissent. Teachers still work to enable students to make judgements based on relevant evidence. We constantly look at a range of viewpoints, and in fact are criticised from the Right constantly for being ‘relativist’ these days.

    In relation to human induced global warming, there is a small and diminishing dissenting goup. There are clearly lots of debates- genuine ones- about many important issues. I for one passionately hope that our Great Barrier Reef is not doomed to die sometime before my four year old can see it. But many scientists are saying increasingly pessimistic things. I wan’t some action now! That means massive investment in renewable energy, government regulation (gasp)of of global markets and (gulp) a long hard look at the excessive consumption that drives our economy, but makes little sense ecologically or in terms of our actual happiness.

    Interesting to read the Spiked article from Mick’s links and compare it to the references from New Scientist. The Philip Stott article is rich in emotional tirades and the usual kind of abuse of ‘Guardianistas’ and febrile Europeans. It is very short on argument or scientific evidence. What it seems to come down to is: we are all too selfish to change our ways and so we had better learn to adapt to climate change. This selfishness is characterised as commonsense economic behaviour. I suspect my students would give this the attention it deserves.

  • micktvd

    By the way, Mick, thanks for the links. Silly question, but only moderators can hyperlink, right?

  • OG

    Lomborg is not an economist, he is a statistician. I enjoyed his book. The book is convenient for the technophile neoconservatives, in that it attacks the bogus proclamations of green campaign groups. But that doesn’t make it wrong or unfair. Green doom-mongering undermines the green movement, which should make arguments based on facts and honest debate, not hype and spin

  • steve48

    It is interesting that the survivors of the tsunami had a far better chance of survival post event than appears to be the case for those in New Orleans. I listened to Bush last night rattle on about the price of oil at the same time as people are dying of thirst. Having watched many US local stations on the web over the past week it is apparent that many questions are being asked of this President. From my own experience and training in emergency services I know that if a situation is not improving significantly within 36 – 48 hrs then things will take a turn for the worst. Basically all the civilian services are burned out from emt’s to police and need to be replaced. This is the point at which a military response of 1,000’s of personnel on the ground is required. In this case the Iraq commitment is having an effect and the troops are not available. In the longer term it should be noted that the defences around New Orleans were designed to withstand a 1 in 100 year event similar defences in London and Amsterdam are designed to withstand a 1 in 10,000 year event. Simply patching up the holes in the levee’s ain’t going to satisfy insurance companies or investors who are needed to rebuild the city.

  • Mick Fealty

    Mick,

    Not at all. Just post the code from below the comment and fill in appropriately with URL and the keyword you wish to link from.

  • Lucy911

    For anyone interested…there is a guy and some of his co-workers on the 27th floor of a building in New Orleans has a live blog going on…telling it like it is….Great and sad pictures…He’s at
    MGNO.com….

    Lucy

  • Lucy911

    For anyone interested…there is a guy and some of his co-workers on the 27th floor of a building in New Orleans has a live blog going on…telling it like it is….Great and sad pictures…He’s at
    MGNO.com….

    Lucy

  • Lucy911

    For anyone interested…there is a guy and some of his co-workers on the 27th floor of a building in New Orleans has a live blog going on…telling it like it is….Great and sad pictures…He’s at
    MGNO.com….

    Lucy