Hurricane Ida puts low-income populations at risk – the organization for world peace
On Sunday September 29, 2021, the New York Times reported that Hurricane Ida was responsible for the deaths of at least “43 people” in more than four states – New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. The hurricane also caused intense flooding and power outages to thousands of homes in Gulf states such as Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Florida. Labeled as a Category 4 storm with wind speeds of up to 145 miles per hour, many states declared the hurricane assault as a “public health emergency” and a “major disaster”. Compounded by the effects of persistent structural inequalities and climate change, many communities, especially low-income populations, remain incredibly vulnerable to the effects of the storm.
To fully understand the potential long-term impact of the storm on the groups mentioned above, we need to look at the effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. According to Vox, similar to Hurricane Ida, Hurricane Katrina was a Category 4 storm that devastated many lives and severely destroyed city infrastructure. These effects have been very profound in New Orleans, Louisiana, where a “botched relief effort” by federal and state authorities left residents with little aid and financial compensation. Rather than government assistance, monetary compensation, and the availability of affordable housing for displaced groups, privatization has been justified by attempts to “rebuild infrastructure” for profitability. In addition, in “Chronic Disaster Syndrome: Displacement, Catastrophe Capitalism, and the Expulsion of the Poor from New OrleansThe authors point out that due to corporate interests and ineffective government response, gentrification and soaring insurance prices have exacerbated existing structural inequalities. Known as “disaster capitalism,” businesses profit from the onslaught of climate disasters while displaced people suffer the consequences.
Likewise, human-induced climate change underpins the growing severity of climate disasters internationally, disproportionately affecting the poor. According to United Nations Climate Change Report 2021, “Human influence” is the main factor affecting the “widespread and rapid changes” in the warming of the “atmosphere, ocean and land” of Earth. This warming is attributed to the Earth’s inability to absorb the increased carbon emissions that have increased dramatically over the past century. Therefore, these emissions causing the Earth to “trap additional heat”, “thereby increasing the average temperature of the Earth”, melting ice and raising sea levels, making storms more frequent, unpredictable and damaging. Subsequently, those with limited resources are most at risk because they have less ability to adapt to a sudden situation. disruption of their livelihood caused by such storms.
Additionally, in the case of Hurricane Ida, policymakers must take these factors into account to guide future decisions, as uncertainty continues to loom over climate concerns. First, as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina demonstrates, policymakers should create long-term, sustainable solutions to ensure residents have adequate access to housing options, federal assistance, and substantial government assistance. More important, however, is an increased effort to work alongside the communities that will be most affected by climate disasters. According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in the short term, local and federal governments must collaborate with civil society and its leaders to identify vulnerabilities of low-income communities to climate change. By focusing on a bottom-up approach, governments can better integrate the local concerns and knowledge of these communities into policy decisions that affect them.
At a broader level, we as a society need to seriously consider new research that dramatically describes different climate scenarios. Although global warming cannot be completely avoided, the The United Nations states that mitigating the harshest effects of climate change will require “sharp, rapid and sustained reductions” in greenhouse gas emissions. To accomplish this task, the most important contributors to these emissions will need to engage in policies that adhere to the directions of new climate research. Failure to do so will have exacerbated consequences for the aforementioned populations, who suffer the worst impacts of climate change.