Socialist Worker

Storms and flooding aren't just natural disasters

Issue No. 2100

Thousands dead and more than a million homeless – a grim statistic from Burma in the aftermath of the severe cyclone that hit the country last weekend.

Many commentators are quick to put the devastation – like similar events around the world – down to a “natural disaster”. Yet there is nothing natural or inevitable about the scale of the impact of violent weather.

About 10 percent of the world’s population live on the 2 percent of land especially vulnerable to flooding and tidal surges.

The combination of climate change and migration into such danger areas means that the frequency of such disasters is set to increase.

An emergency programme of defences and precautionary measures in the costal areas of Bangladesh, Burma, China and Thailand could save millions of lives.

In the longer term migration away from the most affected zones and serious action to limit the effects of climate change will be necessary – and will cost money.

It is a damning indictment of capitalism that it will not countenance such expenditure.

Put simply, there’s too little profit to be made from the lives of the world’s poorest for even the most limited measures to be “viable”.

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What We Think
Tue 6 May 2008, 18:23 BST
Issue No. 2100
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