Storms and Elections

Neil Smith, writing about the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina:
The final lesson of environmental geography concerning disasters is that far from flattening the social differences, disaster reconstruction invariably cuts deeper the ruts and grooves of social oppression and exploitation.
He ends with this:
In the end, the reconstruction question is only secondarily technical. It is in the first place political, and the same corporate and federal abandonment that fostered such a widespread disaster can hardly be expected to perform an about-turn by empowering a disempowered population. Given the visceral response to the hundreds of unnecessary deaths resulting from Katrina, any attempt to impose a top-down solution by force is likely to incite an equally visceral response from below. If the Bush administration’s first instinct was to eschew government and trust private charities to help the victims of Katrina, it should follow that instinct as regards the ordinary refugees of New Orleans and their ability to rebuild from the bottom up. There is no such thing as a natural disaster, and the supposed naturalness of the market is the last place to look for a solution to this disastrous havoc.
E and I keep returning time and again to these questions of agency, things, objects, assemblages -- the line that she's told often, "Earthquakes don't kill people, buildings do."

I woke up this morning to a speculative map on CNN of the ways that power outages in Ohio could turn the presidential election next week. According to the map, the greatest density of homes without power was found in the cities in the north of the state, the same cities that helped Obama carry Ohio in 2008. There might be a kind of perverse logic that a storm which was quite likely driven by a changing climate could help to elect a man who's on the record as denying the influence of humans on the climate.

Always more to write, but the city outside calls. Days must continue. Or maybe close with a note about the impossibility of prediction:
The scientist shakes her head. They think they know what’s coming, she says, but they can’t predict it any more than we can. All they have is their certainty. All we have are the forecasts, and a forecast isn’t the same thing as a prediction.
(Neil Smith via Progressive Geographies)


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