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Natural Disasters

Disaster Recovery Efforts Can Serve More Than One Goal

In the aftermath of last week’s floods, my home state of Vermont faces a daunting path to recovery. Flooding damaged homes and businesses. Roads and bridges washed out, and communities have been cut off from the rest of the state. Vermont has walked this path before, after Tropical Storm Irene, and we are not alone in facing a recovery now. As the climate crisis deepens, more places will be spending more time in recovery mode. Recovery isn’t just a difficult task. It’s also one with lasting consequences. Rebuilt infrastructure will — hopefully — stand for decades to come. Over its lifetime, it will influence climate resilience, carbon emissions, health, well-being and social equity.

Volcanic Eruptions In Mexico And The Dangers Of Fetishizing Natural Disasters In The Global South

On Sunday, I came home and washed the volcanic ash out of my hair. My eyes were irritated. I had to wash my clothes and shoes, too. You could see the ash falling in the streets of Puebla, in central Mexico, near the currently erupting Popocatépetl volcano. It looked like snow, but gray. The whole city was coated in light gray, from the roads and trees to the rooftops, benches, and bins. It was all mildly apocalyptic. Ash from the volcano has been falling heavily for a few weeks now, but Sunday was much worse. Nevertheless, many people still had to work outside all day, despite the hazards. The fish and vegetable street vendors were working, a woman was pacing up and down my street selling flower bouquets, the pizza and taco and corn sellers on other nearby corners were working, too.

US Sanctions Block Aid To Syria, After Earthquake Killed Thousands

Illegal US and EU sanctions have prevented some humanitarian aid from being sent to Syria, after a devastating earthquake killed thousands of people. The death toll is increasing by the day, but at least 3000 Syrians had lost their lives due to the earthquake as of February 9. Thousands of buildings were also destroyed. This is especially damaging because Syria had already been destabilized by a decade of war, fueled with billions of dollars and foreign meddling by the US, Europe, and Israel. Syrian Arab Red Crescent director Khaled Hboubati told the Associated Press that unilateral Western sanctions have exacerbated the “difficult humanitarian situation”. “There is no fuel even to send (aid and rescue) convoys, and this is because of the blockade and sanctions”, Hboubati warned. Syria’s United Nations Ambassador Bassam al-Sabbagh explained that US and EU sanctions have prevented planes from landing in Syrian airports, “So even those countries who want to send humanitarian assistance, they cannot use the airplane cargo because of the sanctions”.

Sanctions Hamper Relief And Rescue Work In Earthquake-Devastated Syria

The head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, Khaled Hboubati, demanded on Tuesday, February 7, that Western countries, specifically the US and its allies, lift their siege and sanctions on Syria so that rescue and relief work can proceed unimpeded, after the country was devastated by a powerful earthquake on Monday. “We need heavy equipment, ambulances and fire fighting vehicles to continue to rescue and remove the rubble, and this entails lifting sanctions on Syria as soon as possible,” Hboubati said at a press conference on Tuesday, as reported by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA). A powerful earthquake registering a magnitude of 7.8 struck Turkey and Syria on Monday. Over 5,000 people have been reported dead so far. In Syria alone the death toll was 1,602 on Monday. These numbers are only expected to rise as a large number of people are suspected to be still buried under the debris of houses that collapsed in the earthquake and its aftershocks.

10 Costliest Climate Disasters Of 2022

In 2022, there were 10 climate-fueled extreme weather events that caused more than $3 billion worth of damage each. That’s the disturbing conclusion of UK charity Christian Aid’s annual review of the year’s costliest and most destructive climate disasters, released December 27. “Having ten separate climate disasters in the last year that each cost more than $3 billion points to the financial cost of inaction on the climate crisis,” Christian Aid CEO Patrick Watt said in a press release. “But behind the dollar figures lie millions of stories of human loss and suffering. Without major cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, this human and financial toll will only increase.” The report, “Counting the Cost 2022: A Year of Climate Breakdown,” first listed the 10 costliest extreme weather disasters of the past year. The $3 billion floor is an escalation from 2021’s report, which listed 10 disasters that cost $1.5 billion or more.

UN Report: Nations Aren’t Doing Enough To Prepare For Climate Impacts

As extreme weather events this year from flooding in Pakistan to historic global heat waves make clear, the climate crisis is already with us. Yet nations are not doing enough to adapt to this new normal, especially when it comes to funding adaptation projects in the most vulnerable countries. That’s the conclusion of the UN Environment Programme’s Adaptation Gap Report 2022, released Thursday ahead of the COP27 climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, from November 6 to 18. “Adaptation needs in the developing world are set to skyrocket to as much as $340 billion a year by 2030. Yet adaptation support today stands at less than one-tenth of that amount. The most vulnerable people and communities are paying the price.

A Tour Guide To Hell On Earth, Small Town-Style

"Dixie did far more than take out entire forests. It razed Greenville, my hometown since 1975. It reduced house after house to rubble, leaving only chimneys where children once had hung Christmas stockings, and dead century-old oaks where families, spanning four generations, had not so long ago built tree forts. The fire left our downtown with scorched, bent-over lampposts touching debris-strewn sidewalks. The historic sheriff’s office is just a series of naked half-round windows eerily showcasing devastation. Like natural disasters everywhere, this fire has upended entire communities."

After Ida, This Louisiana Tribe Is Organizing Its Own Recovery

After the hurricane, the garden took on a new role as a staging ground for the tribe’s disaster response to distribute supplies, coordinate mutual aid groups and help tribal members, who, along with other Native people in south Louisiana, were among the hardest hit. In the long run, Aronson hopes Yakani Ekelanna can combine these functions to become a sort of “laboratory”— a place for building tribal sovereignty and resilience against an uncertain future.

We Need Public Control Of Our Energy Systems

When natural disasters like Hurricane Ida occur, policymakers often wave away the damage and devastation as an unavoidable “act of god” (to use common insurance language). However, these types of response ignore deep structural deficiencies and inequities in the way critical infrastructure systems are often designed and operated in the United States. Specifically, they obscure the role of private, for-profit ownership and control of these services.

Once Again, The Vultures Circle Haiti

During a visit to Haiti in early April, 2010, I traveled with a friend to the Club Indigo Hotel. Club Indigo was located 45 minutes north of Port-au-Prince near the small community of Montrouis. Formerly Club Med Haiti (and currently the Royal Decameron Indigo), the resort was promoted as “a unique residential, leisure and business hotel complex” and a “naturally privileged, protected place.” Set in a large tropical park, Club Indigo was situated between the Côte des Arcadins, one of Haiti’s longest stretches of pure white sand beaches, and a long mountain range. My trip to Club Indigo occurred just three months after the January 12, 2010, 7.0 magnitude earthquake that killed around 200,000 people and left more than a million people without homes.

The Haiti Earthquake And Its Invisibilities

Eleven years after that fateful January 12, 2010, Haiti once again suffered, last Saturday, August 14, 2021, the tremendous blows of an earthquake that has already claimed the lives of at least 1,400 people, according to the preliminary report released yesterday by the Haitian authorities. The terrible news spread in real time throughout the world. The call for international solidarity with the Haitian people was not long in coming. However, in the midst of the pain that the Haitian people are suffering, it is necessary to ask some questions about the actions and responses that are being given and will continue to be given to this difficult situation, from now on. We need to be vigilant, in particular, with the so-called humanitarian actions.

Hot Again: 2020 Sets Yet Another Global Temperature Record

Earth’s rising fever hit or neared record hot temperature levels in 2020, global weather groups reported Thursday. While NASA and a couple of other measurement groups said 2020 passed or essentially tied 2016 as the hottest year on record, more agencies, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, said last year came in a close second or third. The differences in rankings mostly turned on how scientists accounted for data gaps in the Arctic, which is warming faster than the rest of the globe. “It’s like the film ‘Groundhog Day.’ Another year, same story — record global warmth,” said Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who wasn’t part of the measurement teams.

Philadelphia: Stop Denying Disaster Relief To Puerto Rico!

Demonstrators gathered in Philadelphia on Jan. 15 in front of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Mid-Atlantic Region, with signs and Puerto Rican flags. Speaker after speaker criticized the Trump administration for refusing to allow $18 billion in post-hurricane aid to be sent to the U.S. island colony. Without citing a valid reason to deny the Congress-approved aid...

How 2,000 People Of Darker Skin Were Used As Barriers At Gunpoint During The Great Mississippi Flood Of 1927

When Hurricane Katrina pounded the southeast of New Orleans on August 29, 2005, the resultant flooding affected Greater New Orleans and claimed some 1,464 lives leaving damage worth $70 billion. The haunting images of Black babies, mothers and males stuck on roof tops and the support services’ poor handling of the coordination and relief effort where Black people were left to drown, starve or die of dehydration or from lack of medical care exposed the U.S. capitalist government’s disregard for Negroid life and the needs of its people.

Get Ready For Unnatural Disasters This Hurricane Season

Donald Trump discusses immigration as if the benefits of residence in the U.S. are a pie. When immigrants get more, the people who were already here get less. In general, that’s not true. When immigrants come here, they don’t just take some jobs (often low-wage jobs U.S. citizens don’t want), they also create new jobs. They need housing, transportation, food, and clothes, and they buy all of those things, creating more jobs for other people in this country.
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