Two lessons of Katrina

Writing at Tech Central Station, Vaclav Smil, a specialist in energy issues who teaches at the University of Manitoba, finds two lessons in the hurricane. The first is that a serious society does not allow dense construction of permanent buildings in areas such as the Gulf Coast that predictably will be overwhelmed by catastrophic sea surges.

The second lesson has to do with how the aftermath of the hurricane

exposed the frightening fragility of urban America and the increasingly Third-World nature of much of its urban environment and population: the world’s only remaining superpower is rotting from the inside….

The one lesson that would be easiest to act on is to remember that large segments of all major US cities are inhabited by populations whose standard of living is more African than American. In any massive catastrophe, all young, sick, helpless and decent people of this population will became instant victims, while the predatory, violent segment of this population will take control of the chaotic place…. If Katrina will teach at least one limited lesson it should be this: do not let Los Angeles or San Francisco, after a 9.0 magnitude quake, pass into the hands of gangs.

According to Smil, the growth of Third-world-type populations in our midst means nothing less than that our society is “rotting from the inside.” That is obviously a bigger long-term threat to the well-being and survival of our society than a single natural disaster or terrorist attack. Yet, aside from pro-active police measures to prevent lawlessness after a disaster, Smil, whose theme is the lessons of Katrina, has no suggestions on how to stop or reverse this rot.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 10, 2005 10:25 AM | Send

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