Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Natural Disasters

Sorry for my recent absence. I was moving my mother to senior citizen housing. She's made the move but the ordeal for me is far from over, since I'll be dealing with liquidating the house and contents and otherwise managing her affairs. It's incredibly complicated dealing with all the financial issues, utilities, change of address, and getting the power of attorney to all of the relevant institutions and having them accept it. I do have to wonder what happens to people who don't have a family member to cope with everything when their capacity diminishes.

Anyway, that's really just a personal note, not the main subject of this post. With the Houston metro area and much of south Texas drowning, we're reminded of a key truth of natural disasters -- most of the time, they are only partly natural. In the case of Houston, lack of zoning regulations (which are a commie plot) has led to massive, unregulated urban sprawl without regard to environmental consequences. That accomplishes 2 things:

  1. It fills in and paves over the lowlands that formerly absorbed storm water and mitigated flooding; and
  2.  It puts a whole lot of houses and businesses into flood plains.
On top of that, Houston has experienced 3 of what were thought to be 100 year floods in the past two years. What's happening now is supposed to be a million year flood, i.e. something that couldn't happen. It's bad luck that this particular storm has lingered within a small area for a long time, but the fact is severe rain events are becoming more common, in south Texas and many other places.

Flooding and landslides also occur in more hilly or mountainous terrain when the hillsides are deforested; and there has been a whole lot of coastal development that puts more property and people in harm's way from storms regardless. We just cannot continue to be so heedless of our impact on the environment. For the sake of short term gain and libertarian ideology, we are trashing ourselves. It's time to wise up.


Anonymous said...

There is no planning for 50 in rainfall.

40-50 inches of rainfall within a short period of time would flood most any city.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous is a perverse idiot, as usual.

I lived in Houston for almost a year. I was in Hurricane Alicia. It was a disaster. But yes, the horrible lack of zoning and disregard for nature has compounded the current disaster. It reminds me of Bush (jr.) and others in his administration saying, "Who could have predicted such a disaster?" about New Orleans years ago...when there was a National Geographic article THE YEAR BEFORE, describing exactly what would occur WHEN--not IF--a confluence of events occurred to create the disaster that did in fact happen.

Don Quixote said...

Oops, forgot to add my handle...I am not a perverse idiot!

Don Quixote said...

BTW, I lived in Houston in 1983-84. The urban sprawl even then was unbelievable...horrible pollution, ugly buildings stretching on for miles in each direction with no geographical relief, but hey, some people like that. The fact that the Bushes have lived and worked there is enough to keep me away (from Kennebunkport, too).

Mark P said...

About your mother, I feel for you. We went through that with my mother and my wife's mother and father. It was no fun for them or us. My wife and I will find out what happens to the elderly who have no family members to help out. We're childless and far from any younger relatives who might possibly be willing to help.

You can't plan for 50 inches of rainfall? Of course you can. You won't necessarily build the infrastructure to deal with an extremely unlikely event, but you can certainly plan and build for something of lesser magnitude and try to make sure that your planning at least mitigates some of the damage an unlikely event will cause. Of course, that presupposes some willingness to engage in social cooperation, which, as any Houston resident can tell you, is the next best thing to godless communism. But they will look to the rest of us to help them dig out of the hole they dug themselves into with their freedom-loving, self-reliant ways..

Anonymous said...

It's just weird to see collectivists politicize this catastrophe claiming that lack of big government exacerbated the situation when there is no evidence whatsoever.

The article cited came from Slate (need I say more) and when you drill down, it's all based upon articles from ProPublica, a "news" organization that funded by wealthy Democratic operatives that develop stories that are then released to other news organizations out of the goodness of their hearts.

Here's what makes these arguments specious:

Beaumont, Port Arthur, China and other smaller towns east of Houston that got pretty much the same amount of rain had the same catastrophic flooding. NO urban sprawl...NO massive amounts of development.

These are all low lying areas near the coast. Even the areas that are not developed at all are also flooded.

It's the 50 in of RAIN, stupid!

Name one coastal city that you think would have not had a similar outcome with 50 in of rain within a couple of days.

Mark P said...

No one is saying that 50 inches of rain would not cause a disaster. The question is whether the disaster had to be as big as it was. Here, let me give you an example of the type of thing that can help lessen flood damage from storms. Some coastal areas of Florida require homes to be built on pilings that put the living levels above flood level. It floods, but the damage is mitigated. I'm not suggesting that Houston be put on pilings; it's just an example of the fact that the effect of natural disasters can be mitigated, but then, of course, it did require Florida collectivists' big government to do it.

But it doesn't matter. You can tell who's losing the argument by who first calls names.

Anonymous said...

I was goofing on Clinton's "It's the economy, stupid"

Anonymous said...

@ Mark,

Galveston, right on the coast, has many houses on pilings. There are incentives to do so such as lower insurance premiums or even the ability to get insurance at all. There is no need for government forcing conformity. Those who are willing to take the personal risk can do so.

Look, I know there is a role for government. There is also a role for individual liberty. Where we draw the balance between the two is where we differ.

What's frightening is when people from both sides of the aisle only consider one of them and dismiss the other as useless when making their arguments.