Lester Brown on New Orleans

Lester Brown is also confused about the role of global warming in the New Orleans disaster. He calls the evacuees from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina “climate refugees”. He says,

“Those of us who track the effects of global warming had assumed that the first large flow of climate refugees would likely be in the South Pacific with the abandonment of Tuvalu or other low-lying islands. We were wrong.

The first massive movement of climate refugees has been that of people away from the Gulf Coast of the United States.”

Katrina was a disaster for New Orleans. But it was a social and political disaster, cause by government failure at all levels, racial divisions, neglect of infrastructure, lack of emergency preparedness, and an incompetent police department. Katrina was well within the range of hurricanes you can expect in the Gulf of Mexico.

The evacuees from New Orleans were “climate refugees” only in the sense that the victims of the 1953 floods in the Netherlands were “climate victims”.

Reduction of greenhouse gasses will do nothing for the people who live in or were evacuated from New Orleans. What needs to be done in New Orleans are things that should have been done anyway, climate change or no climate change.


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