Why Natural Disasters Are Not Natural
“Why are natural disasters never really natural?”
When a massive hurricane, flood, or wildfire hits an area, it often gets described as a natural disaster. However, the factors that make these disasters such as economic devastation, infrastructure loss, and community displacement, are not from natural factors. Rather, these are from the results of years, decades, and in some cases centuries of bad planning, corrupt leadership, and systematic discrimination.
Take New Orleans during Katrina as an example. While the city was built in an area that was safe from flooding, it was surrounded by floodplain wetlands. When it expanded under U.S control, the Army Corp of Engineers made sure to build levees to protect it. In the 20th century, the government built a wide variety of levees and dams to protect coastal cities, which ended up devastating the sediment carrying process and destroying many natural flood barriers. This was further compounded by the U.S Army Corp of Engineers miscalculating sea-level rise and rate of subsidence for the new levee which caused it to sink 5 ft further into the ground. Combine this with the fact that more vulnerable populations were placed closer to harm’s way and the impact of global warming gon making hurricanes stronger, and you get a very unnatural Hurricane Katrina Disaster. This is just one illustration of Why Natural Disasters Are Not Natural.