Environment

The global geopolitics of disaster: The case of the Nepali floods

Medium and low development countries experienced 64% of all disasters globally, but 92% of the deaths and 97% of the populations severely affected by them.

Medium and low development countries experienced 64% of all disasters globally, but 92% of the deaths and 97% of the populations severely affected by them.

The recent onslaught of flooding created by a succession of devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean and the U.S. southeast has ever-so-slightly heightened the media and political conversation about the effects of global climate change. While this dialogue is obviously beneficial in waking a skeptical public and political system to the rapid development of climate change impacts, it is not a sufficiently deep analysis of the notion of disaster.

Climate change is the most significant consequence of a global economic system that has developed over the past several hundred years, depending as it does on constant expansion of production and consumption with little concern for the planetary system that sustains us. However, climate change isn’t the only human-induced factor that transforms natural events like hurricanes or earthquakes into disasters.

The present structure of the global system is governed by an empire of global capital based on geopolitical inequities and power imbalances that produce varying levels of vulnerability, including those relevant to framing natural events as disasters.

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