Recently a hurricane hit the East Coast of the United States. In particular, the hurricane hit South Carolina fairly hard, and they are still recovering. With all the news on TV it is hard to keep up with tragedy. It also seems that we've become a bit desensitized to the tragedy of flooding and coastal inundation. Hurricanes, storm surges, sea level rise once the subject of panic stricken legislators and scientists is mere background noise, perhaps the human toll wasn't high enough to merit attention. NPR released a fascinating analysis of what happened in South Carolina and why we should care - when I say we, I mean the we of the global community. Maybe we can learn from this failure.
The tragedy that occurred in South Carolina was not just about a storm, human cost, and loss of economic value to communities. It is another highlight of the potential major danger in the aging infrastructure in America - not just any aging infrastructure, but infrastructure that Americans trust and build their lives around according to that trust. The article includes some easy to navigate figures that capture the bind we are in - since we have no real cash in our current accounts - it has all gotten tied up in Medicare for the Babyboomers and our engagements overseas - we won't really be able to address this easily. Perhaps the solution is bonds, banks, taxing the rich - but who wants to talk about such things in an election year? We simply trust that the Army Corps of Engineers made decisions 60 years ago that were foolproof. But with privatization, much seems to have fallen out of the public responsibility and the public eye. Of the 87,000 dams in America, 65% are privately managed/owned and there is a major backlog on repairs.
For the Republicans in the audience - this is a perfect example of why privatization is not the answer - you don't have enough morality, responsibility, or ethical motivation in the private sector.
We need another G.F. White. You probably haven't hear of him, but this brilliant geographer reasoned that while floods are an act of God, losses due to flooding is largely due to us, to human communities making poor decisions of development, perception, and trust.
He also went beyond this in his scholarship. His contributions, according to Wikipedia citation, include the following: