(12o) Haiti - Victim of natural disasters

Poor Haitians. One disaster after another.

In 2010, thus only 6 years ago, a minimum of 100,000 people died during a terrible earthquake that hid the area of the capital Port-au-Prince while lots of the infrastructure but also many houses, including the presidential palace, were destroyed making many people homeless.

Then, as a result of foreign UN soldiers who tried to help the people in the aftermath of the earthquake, cholera was imported into the country, killing about 10,000 people over the years after the earthquake.

And now, probably as a consequence of climate change although still many people will deny, about 1,000 people died during the passage of a very strong hurricane, named Matthew while more buildings and infrastructure are damaged or completely destroyed, including a cathedral. In addition, as a result of flooding, it is very likely that the cholera epidemic will resurface and thus kill many more people over the coming weeks, months and maybe even years, certainly as parts of the health infrastructure are probably also damaged. I say "probably as a consequence of climate change" because storms became bigger over the years, both in strength and area. But fortunately, although it was predicted Matthew would make landslide in Florida, it did not and thus it is not as bad as predicted although the storm surge caused flooding while there is damage. But as people were prepared and most did what the government requested, i.e. leave the area although some people remained, only a small number of people died (it is more difficult to leave an island). Personally, I think that in such extreme conditions, when people ignore warnings and advise and then get into troubles, they should wait for help until it is considered to be save for lifeguards to help so the guards don't risk their lives - unless there was a very good reason why people didn't leave. It is different when people are not warned and get into troubles so help should be provided if necessary and possible.

And thus, as after the earthquake, religious people may again claim that God is angry with Haiti and therefore caused the hurricane (they claim the same after other major natural disasters) and thus climate change is not the cause of the storm while Haitians should repent. Still, one day the West will also be less lucky and the destruction brought to Haiti may one day reach our countries, certainly because still many people deny climate change and the need to intervene as it makes them rich while many others can't imagine renewables are already sufficiently advanced they can be used to provide sufficient energy. New Orleans already knows the destructive violence of certain storms. And when climate change may cause more havoc and some prophecies seem to be true or religious organisations provide help, people may start to believe the extremists that God punishes us for defending human rights, including gay and women rights and the right for people to have different (or no) religions, and thus these groups may be the first to suffer. Still, the melting of the ice caps on both Arctic and Antarctic as well as on Greenland that seems to happen much quicker than previously thought may also cause instability to the earth (less weight on certain parts of the earth because ice melts while more weight at other parts because of an increase in sea level) and this may maybe cause an increase in volcanic activity and earthquakes and this together with stronger storms - all in the same period.

I feel sorry for the Haitians. For a long time, we blamed them for the severity of the 2010 earthquake as we claimed the damage was made worse because people destroyed their land such as deforestation and therefore landslides were possible (while also in developed countries woodlands are still cut). Still, are those people solely responsible? Look at the damage after the hurricane and you can see that in certain areas most trees lay broken on the ground. And thus I am no longer sure Haitians are solely responsible for the destruction of their land. Indeed, the country is often the victim of a passing hurricane before these storms move northwards to reach, often weaker, the east coast of the USA. And with each passing storm, trees and homes are destroyed. Of course, if the infrastructure is good, there will be less destruction although a storm like Matthew would still have caused major damage. But, as Haiti is very poor and only part of the money that was promised to rebuild the country after the 2010 earthquake reached the country, wood is used to rebuild homes. And thus, after this new disaster that already killed many trees, people will probably kill more trees to rebuild homes (and religious monument to please the gods - is this a repetition of what happened before at the Easter Islands that ended without trees???). Therefore, after each passing storm, trees are killed by winds and then by humans rebuilding their homes and as a result, each time fewer trees remain. Thus, I think the deforestation of Haiti may be largely due to the natural disasters and the rebuilding of the infrastructure; as a result this country remains poor.

But each disaster also has major consequences on other aspects of daily life. After the earthquake, elections were held while now after the hurricane the elections are postponed. It can't be good for a democracy when the normal democratic processes are interrupted and people have other things on their mind than listening to politicians, certainly when Haitians still have to learn democracy after years of dictatorship. But also, how can a country progress if every few years politicians have to rebuild their country? Therefore, the international community must help Haiti so the country can finally build stronger houses and infrastructure that at least can survive moderate storms and earthquakes (Japan's latest earthquake proved that when nature's forces are in excess, even the best prepared countries can fail). Of course, it is important Haiti's political class accepts the advice of the international community or much of the help will be useless. Still, if houses are not destroyed each time, less trees need to be cut to rebuild homes and thus nature will be able to recover easier after disasters. On the other hand, the international community will also need to accept that Haitians will continue to leave a country where people continue to become demoralised as it seems they always have to rebuild their country, and certainly now more and more violent storms can be expected due to climate change while rising sea levels will reduce the size of islands. Even when houses can survive storms, crops will be destroyed so the country remains dependent upon the goodwill of others. Indeed, there is often a reason why countries are instable and poor and people leave. And thus, climate change will further increase mass immigration, worldwide, whether we like it or not.


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