Hurricane Katrina in a Human Security Perspective

By Renner, Michael; Chafe, Zoe | World Watch, September-October 2006 | Go to article overview

Hurricane Katrina in a Human Security Perspective


Renner, Michael, Chafe, Zoe, World Watch


In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a joke circulated to the effect that had the people of New Orleans wanted the federal government to come to their rescue right away, they should have blamed the storm on Al Qaeda.

Sometimes it takes sarcasm to make a point. An administration that has masterfully exploited post-9/11 security fears to justify many of its actions proved itself downright uninterested in undertaking adequate measures to protect the Gulf coast population against the very real threat posed by Hurricane Katrina.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, the Bush administration embraced a muscular security policy with relish--as manifested in its invasion of Iraq and sharply escalating military expenditures. But the administration resolutely turned its back on a broader understanding of security that has slowly gained currency in academic and policymaking circles. It has become quite clear that in many circumstances weapons are simply inappropriate tools. They possess awesome destructive power, but can do little or nothing to protect us from environmental breakdown, rising competition for resources, a resurgence of infectious diseases, growing wealth disparities, and demographic pressures--non-military threats that may be every bit as lethal as the actions of a determined enemy.

Several factors, including ecosystem destruction, population growth, and the economic marginalization of poor people, have in combination set the stage for more frequent and more devastating "unnatural" disasters--natural disturbances made worse by human actions. The number of disasters worldwide has risen from about 750 in 1980-84 to almost 2,000 in 2000-04; the number of people affected has risen from about 500 million to 1.4 billion during the same period of time.

Death and Destruction

The costliest and among the deadliest hurricanes in U.S. history (see sidebar, "Bad Company: Katrina versus Other Disasters," right), Hurricane Katrina caused destruction on a scale reminiscent of a marauding force of invaders. More than 1,800 people perished. Along with Hurricane Rita a month later, the storm turned an estimated 750,000 residents of New Orleans and other cities along the Gulf coast into refugees, scattering them not only in surrounding counties and states but also much farther afield.

For many, the prospects for returning home are still uncertain. While the New Orleans levees have been repaired, they are now no more able to handle a storm of Katrina's caliber than they were last year. The overall capability of the city's flood protection system remains suspect. And by designating certain areas of New Orleans as "delayed recovery" and tearing down damaged low-income housing without replacement, post-disaster decisionmaking is placing additional obstacles in the path of many seeking to return (see "Race and the High Ground in New Orleans," p. 40).

A Census Bureau report found that, as of January 2006, Louisiana's hardest hit counties had lost 385,000 people, about 39 percent of its total population (see table, right). Orleans Parish lost 64 percent, while the smaller St. Bernard Parish was almost totally depopulated, losing 95 percent. An estimated 80 percent of New Orleans' pre-storm African-American population was displaced.

The storm also had major impacts on economic security (see "Katrina's National Security Impacts," p. 23). Losses are estimated at a staggering $100 billion or more. The Gulf of Mexico and the coastal area stretching from Texas to Alabama host a dense collection of oil platforms, rigs, pipelines, refineries, and petrochemical plants. Katrina shut down much of the area's oil extraction--which accounts for a quarter of U.S. output--and knocked out about 10 percent of U.S. oil refining capacity. At a time of tight supplies, these effects contributed to the upward pressure on energy prices.

Katrina also highlighted another vulnerability. The Mississippi River, along with the port facilities clustered near New Orleans, serves as a major import and export artery. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Hurricane Katrina in a Human Security Perspective
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.