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Hullabaloo


Sunday, August 21, 2016

 

A creeping, man-made disaster

by Tom Sullivan

Days ago, a remote Inuit village in Alaska voted to relocate:

Residents of Shishmaref, Alaska, voted Wednesday to relocate its ancestral island home to safer ground, escaping eroding shores and rising seas brought on by climate change.

Melting sea ice has strengthened the storms that beat along the island's shores, causing chunks to drop off into the ocean, even as the permafrost on which the community is built is rapidly disappearing.
We are going to see more of this.

Farther south, flooding in Louisiana is already receding ... from the country's newsrooms and living rooms. A couple days of disaster porn, of people being rescued by boat from flooded homes after an unbranded storm, then it's back to Donald Trump: The Greatest Show on Earth.

Sean Illing last week took the media and the country to task at Salon:
In Louisiana, there’s a gnawing sense that the national media seems wholly uninterested in this disaster. One listens in vain for a mention of the floods amid the breathless coverage of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton’s email testimony. I monitored the news over the weekend and was disturbed by the indifference. The historic floods felt like an afterthought, a throwaway segment sandwiched between Buick commercials.
Illing writes, it is just "a story that doesn’t fit neatly into pre-established media narratives. It’s just regular people living out their Sisyphean nightmares in places no one cares about." Like Shishmaref. It's news filler like the "Media Break" segments from Robocop. A day of mourning for a country. We'll be right back.

One football field of land disappears from Louisiana's coast every hour, writes Zack Kopplin at Slate, so why care?
If we must blame something for this flood, we should direct our blame at climate change. According to the National Weather Service, there was only a 0.1 percent chance of this flood according to historical models. This storm shouldn’t have happened. Many of the homes that were destroyed weren’t in a flood zone. (Unlike in New York and New Jersey after Hurricane Sandy, where the flooding was well-predicted.)
But after Hurricane Katrina, Kopplin sneers, a former Slate editor wrote approvingly of then-Speaker Dennis Hastert's suggestion that New Orleans be bulldozed:
What that decade-old commentary about bulldozing New Orleans missed is that we weren’t looking for opinions, we were looking for help. But Louisiana is viewed as a backwater, so instead we just got paternalistic think pieces about why we didn’t deserve help. We’re too poor, we’re too corrupt, and our schools were failing. “New Orleans puts the ‘D’ into dysfunctional,” Shafer wrote, suggesting residents stay in Texas.

But because we, as a country, have collectively endangered our future by overusing fossil fuels, that doesn’t mean Louisiana has sacrificed its right to exist and its people should leave. Climate change could sink all of our major coastal cities, but Louisiana is being held to a different standard, because we’ve already been hit with so many disasters. We’ve suffered so much that people are tired of hearing about us. In fact, we’ve suffered so much that people outside of Louisiana assume that we want to leave.

They don't. But we won't care until it happens in places we care about. Meanwhile, disaster brings out the predators. Scammers are already taking advantage of others' misfortune to try to make their own:

Around the corner from Schexnayder, a woman absorbed in salvaging her home said she was approached by a man claiming to be from a popular Baton Rouge church. He had his young daughter with him and said he was helping organize federal assistance.

She asked that CNN not embarrass her, so we'll just use her first name, Chasin. She's a fraud investigator so she should have known better when he asked for her FEMA identification number, she said.

She wasn't in the best state of mind. Her home had just been destroyed by flooding, and the guy had a little girl with him. A kid! She didn't realize until later it was a scam.

"You've got to be a real piece of s***," Chasin's husband said.
Right on cue, D.R. Tucker at Political Animal has some choice words for some other predators. Fueling U.S. Forward, a $10 million-a-year effort by the Koch brothers to promote the positive aspects of burning fossil fuels and attack government subsidies for electric vehicles got off the ground at the Red State Gathering 2016 in Denver last week. "While Louisiana drowned." Tucker writes:
Charles and David Koch built this, this monument to malevolence. We always knew they were ruthless…but to do this while Louisiana drowned as a clear result of fossil-fueled climate change is beyond heartless. This is Trumpian in its treachery.

[...]

The sociopathy of the Kochs shocks the conscience. Looking at a world on fire, they call for the use of more fossil fuels to further increase their profits as they further inflame the planet. If Joseph Welch were alive today, he wouldn’t ask the Kochs if they had any sense of decency; he’d tell them he already knew they had none.
Why didn't the people in Louisiana and Alaska just move onto their yachts?