What do Irma and Harvey teach us?

Tropical Hurricane Irma has left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean and Florida, claiming at least 61 lives. Commentators criticise that manmade climate change is still being ignored and that some politicians have promised too much to the storm's many victims.

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RussEurope (FR) /

Macron's craving for recognition is regrettable

Macron visited the French Caribbean island of Saint Martin on Tuesday and announced that one of the largest air lifts of aid since the end of World War II would be carried out. All just hot air, economist Jacques Sapir writes on his blog RussEurope:

“The president's announcement reveals an outrageous pomposity that makes one wonder about his mental state. This urge to put himself in the limelight no matter what the cost, and even to spread enormous falsehoods is worrying. ... But the declaration also raises questions about his PR team. ... The fact that they either didn't inform him about the reality of the situation or didn't warn him about the dangers of making such declarations makes one wonder about his relationship to his own team.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

Climate reality can no longer be denied

The hurricanes are forerunners of a climate disaster into which mankind is plunging headlong, writes 24 Chasa:

“Harvey and Irma have taught the climate sceptics a lesson. They were the strongest storms ever and a consequence of global warming and climate change. The damage they have caused could have been less if mankind wasn't closing its eyes to the consequences of environmental pollution. Never before has a hurricane brought as much rain as Harvey did. Never before has a hurricane raged for 37 hours with winds of 300 kilometres per hour. … There will be more and more such storms in future, scientists warn. … For most of them global warming and climate change are a reality that can no longer be reversed, no matter how much we deny it.”

Die Tageszeitung taz (DE) /

Disaster mainly affects the poor

It's only partially true that the poor and the rich are equally affected by environmental disasters, the taz points out:

“Certainly, rich neighbourhoods were also flooded, but the poor black neighbourhoods were hit far worse in Houston. The municipal social housing is mostly inhabited by Afro-Americans and is situated in low lying areas in Houston - because the land is cheaper there. Rich people can afford homes in higher locations. ... In Miami, too, above all the rich will be protected against storm damage. While wealthy Miami Beach protects itself with anti-flooding projects worth hundreds of millions of dollars, many poor areas in Miami's Dade County don't even have drainage systems. Hurricanes may not differentiate between the poor and the rich - but the socio-economic situation in the US certainly does.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Will Trump change his stance?

Despite the likely connection between the tropical storms and man-made climate change Večernji list doesn't believe the US will change its climate policy:

“A look at the data shows that the intervals between the hurricanes are getting shorter and shorter. That means that mankind really is having an impact on the climate, because the disasters are multiplying. … Will Trump's stance on the Paris climate agreement change? Perhaps, because 'the Donald' changes his mind from one day to the next. But that doesn't mean he'll acknowledge human influence on Hurricane Irma. Because he claims that environmental activists are plotting against the United States and its economic recovery based on oil and coal. Perhaps Irma is just part of that conspiracy.”

The Guardian (GB) /

Polluters belong in court

The hurricanes should serve as a wake-up call and incite the courts to take action against the climate sinners in the fossil fuels industry, The Guardian writes:

“Corporations have made handsome profits as the globe ended up a degree warmer than it should be. These polluters privatised the fossil-fuel profits and socialised the cost to the world's poor, global taxpayers and future generations. ... Legal warfare has a two-fold aim: to overhaul transgressors' business models so that they are in line with the global commitment to phase out fossil fuels and limit temperature rises to 1.5C; and to get them to pay for damages resulting from global warming. Climate litigation is the inevitable result of a failure of two decades of talks.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

France failed in the Carribean

The Caribbean island of Saint Martin, which has been badly hit Hurricane Irma, is half-French and half-Dutch. While the Dutch government took appropriate measures the French government's crisis management was a complete failure, Le Figaro criticises:

“For Irma the worst scenario was predictable. But did everyone take that into account? Listening to the minister of the interior reel off on Sunday the list of all the men and materials that will arrive there in the coming hours, you wonder why these steps weren't taken before the disaster. In the Dutch part of Saint Martin, the Netherlands stationed soldiers there before the storm arrived, and pillaging was limited. In Florida many inhabitants were evacuated and all the necessary precautions were taken. Couldn't Paris have done the same at the start of last week?”