The Oil Drum: New York City

Helping New Yorkers understand, prepare and adapt to the implications of Peak Oil

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Heartbreaking News from New Orleans

So I'm sitting at home watching and reading about the unfolding disaster happening in New Orleans, Southern LA and Mississippi. I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of empathy for those caught in the storm's wake, particularly after reading about the death, destruction, looting and general chaos that reigns in the area. Then I read this:

With conditions in the hurricane-ravaged city of New Orleans rapidly
deteriorating, Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Tuesday that everyone still in the
city, now huddled in the Superdome and other rescue centers, needs to be

"The situation is untenable," Blanco said, pausing to choke back tears
at a news conference. "It's just heartbreaking."

The breach of two levees Tuesday meant the city was rapidly filling with water and the prospect of having power was a long time off, the governor said. She said the storm also severed a major water main, leaving the city without drinkable water.
"The goal is to bring enough supplies to sustain the people until we can establish a network to get them out," Blanco said.

It is heartbreaking. One of the oldest and most important US cities and trading ports has effectively been abandoned to the sea for an undefined period of time. Hundreds of thousands of people will be homeless for weeks to months.

Please dig deep into your compassion and donate whatever you can to the Red Cross Hurricane Fund.


At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to be the bad guy here and go out on a limb: I don't feel bad for victims of the disaster in New Orleans . . . viewed from another perspective, it's a clear win for the non-human members of the earth.

I mean, look, it's pretty clear at this point that mother nature is fighting back against the plague of humans that has overrun the earth (6.4 billion of us, projected to hit 9 billion by 2050). There are too many people, and we're wreaking too much damage. I think that's plain and simple.

Now, who are you going to point a finger at? The guy who owns that factory that's damaging the environment ? The guy who works in the factory that's damaging the environment ? Or is is the person driving a car ? The fact is, all of us are partly to blame by our mere existence as consumers. For too long we've thought people were special. Exempt from the food chain. Able to run the show. Maybe it's about time we paid our dues.

So in the big picture, it's not heart breaking. It's like a fire burning off the underbrush so future generations will grow better. Given that the people of the world seem utterly incapable of living in harmony with the world, thank goodness the earth is able to self-regulate itself against our species.

Look at it this way: if you want to build your house below sea level, then drive around in your car dumping CO2's into the atmosphere, don't get upset when you wake up and find yourself under water.

At 10:44 AM, Blogger peakguy said...

jk, I understand your frustration with inaction on Global Warming and I do believe that this is a wake-up call for people on that issue, but I do not share your lack of empathy for the victims of this tragedy. Please consider ways of convincing people of your point of view on Global Warming without showing concern for the victims. No one likes to follow those who wish disaster on fellow humans.

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that wishing diaster on one's fellow human beings is not a particularily good position, ethically speaking. But once you come to the conclusion that there are simply too many people for the planet to support, where do you go from there ?

I'm sure you've read that without an oil-based factory farming system, the earth can support around 3 billion people (the pre-industrial world population).

That means if you subtract the oil, we're about 3 billion people too many. This seems like a basic fact. It's not a pleasant fact. It's not a fact that's easy to swallow (nor is Peak Oil). But it's pretty fundamental.
And with absolutely no sign of population control in sight, where does that leave us?
It leaves us with 200,000 more people on the planet every day.
So you can draw borders and be sympathetic to those in New Orleans but not worry about those in Niger who are, frankly, much worse off.
Or you can worry about Niger but not Dafur, which is possibly worse still.

In the end, if you accept the oil-food dependency relationship, and you agree that oil supplies are going to inevitably decline, perhaps drastically and quickly, I think a lot of social morals about sympathy towards one's fellow humans are going to be very hard to sustain in practice.

At 8:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's how much sympathy citizens of New Orleans have for each other:

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