TW: the class war, colonialism, international inequality, pandemic diseases, food insecurity
You’ve probably heard about how Hurricane Sandy has now damaged much of the Mid-Atlantic US coast on a scale unprecedented since modern innovations in meteorology. A small but consistent number of reports have talked about whether, like Katrina, global warming can be seen as a contributing factor in the increased danger to Americans posed by hurricanes. Less frequently, has it been noted that the capacity of the storm to disrupt people’s daily lives including their ability to participate in the upcoming election is uneven. Not only was the damage geographically concentrated, but the impact disproportionately falls on less powerful socio-economic classes. As one opinion piece before the storm hit warned, “If the storm were to make it harder for lower income Americans to participate in the election than middle and upper income Americans (eg, by knocking out public transportation), then we would expect this to hurt the vote for Obama.”
Even scarcer still has been any sort of analysis of how global-warming-enhanced severe weather might unequally impact people on a global scale, where living standards are even more divergent.
(One of the “tent cities” that sprang up after the 2010 earthquake in Port-au-Prince experiencing flooding as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Originally from here.)
Just as global warming has been connected with more dangerous hurricanes for a while now, the connections between class and vulnerability to climate change have a lengthy history of theorization. At what point though, do we declare a seeming connection? When a hurricane threatens Haïti with starvation and cholera? When dengue fever seasons in India are longer and more severe? It seems impossible to pinpoint the exact turning point where poverty and colonialism give way to climate change and neo-colonialism. It’s often been said that a widespread political response to global warming won’t be produced until after a critical mass of climatological instability is reached. But what if the reality’s more insidious than that? What if we don’t even recognize climatological instability because our attentions are held elsewhere? Or we gloss over climatological processes as a contributing factor to crises?
Are international inequality and global warming tag teaming us already?