Depopulation Key To Reducing Damages In Disaster-Prone Areas

<p>This column from <em>The Wall Street Journal</em> argues that the best way to prevent damages from natural disasters is not to fight carbon emissions, but to prevent people from living in disaster-prone areas.</p>
August 27, 2007, 12pm PDT | Nate Berg
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

"It has become more popular than ever to reside in low-lying, coastal areas that are particularly vulnerable to extreme weather. In Florida, more people live in Dade and Broward counties today than lived in all 109 coastal counties from Texas through Virginia in 1930. It's obvious that more damage will occur when many more people with much more wealth live in harm's way."

"No matter how you look at it, however, the prospect of $1 trillion of weather-related damage by 2040 is frightening. But it is just as frightening that we have developed a blinkered focus on reducing carbon emissions as a way to somehow stop the devastation of events like Hurricane Dean."

"Presumably, our goal is to help humans and the planet. Cutting carbon is a very poor way of doing that. If coastal populations kept increasing but we managed to halt climate warming, then research shows that there would still be a 500% increase in hurricane damage in 50 years' time. On the other hand, if we let climate warming continue but stopped more people from moving into harm's way, the increase in hurricane damage would be less than 10%."

*Editor's Note: This article will be available to non-subscribers of The Wall Street Journal for up to seven days.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, August 24, 2007 in The Wall Street Journal
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email