Natural Disasters: Strategic Rhetoric and Practical Action In The EU, U.S., and Transatlantic Partnership
May 24, 2011
The human costs of natural disasters are well-known. The January 2010 Haiti earthquake has accounted for around 250,000 fatalities, drawing comparisons to the equally-tragic 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed more than 230,000 people. And natural disasters do not merely strike poor or developing countries; the 2010 Chilean earthquake killed more than 500 people, and more than 1,800 people died in Hurricane Katrina on America’s Gulf Coast.
According to a 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, future geologic changes are likely to lead to more extreme weather events, which may lead to more frequent natural disasters.107 In addition, the growth of large cities located in fault zones is only likely to increase the human effects of major earthquakes. All of these factors come together at a time when the rise of globalization ensures that disasters like earthquakes, floods, and tornados affect individuals from a range of countries and backgrounds (hundreds of non-Haitians, including 104 Americans, died in the January earthquake; nearly 2,000 Europeans were killed during the 2004 tsunami). In short, largescale natural disasters cannot simply be thought of as isolated or contained events, because they often result from global environmental phenomena, like climate change, and can wreak havoc in places far removed from the center of crisis.