Monday, November 11, 2013

Thoughts on Typhoon Haiyan

It is only a matter of time before some fundamentalist Christian pundit ascribes the devastating Typhoon Haiyan to God's wrath. I don't believe that God punishes people with natural disasters. I do think though, in a very real way, human sin is responsible for the devastation in and around Tacloban.

According to a story in the Huffington Post:

"The 7,000 islands of the Philippines sit in the middle of the world's most storm-prone region, which gets some of the biggest typhoons because of vast expanses of warm water that act as fuel and few pieces of land to slow storms down. Half the storms on an informal list of the strongest ones to hit land in the 20th and 21st centuries ended up striking the Philippines, according to research by Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the Weather Underground.

Humans played a big role in this disaster, too — probably bigger than nature's, meteorologists said. University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy figures that 75 to 80 percent of the devastation can be blamed on the human factor. Meteorologists point to extreme poverty and huge growth in population — much of it in vulnerable coastal areas with poor construction, including storm shelters that didn't hold up against Haiyan."

In other words, typhoons and earthquakes and other natural disasters are an integral part of how our planet functions. They happen and have always happened and will continue to happen. They are morally neutral. We don't need the wrath of God or weather-controlling demonic forces to pin the blame on. But poverty is a global moral issue and our man-made systems and structures that perpetuate poverty are culpable for massive and sustained human suffering. In the days and weeks to come, relief aid will pour into the Philippines--and rightly so--as it did into Haiti and Indonesia and New Orleans. But what will change the underlying systems that leave millions of people impoverished and exposed?


Post a Comment

<< Home