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Bringing disaster preparedness into resilience politics

Bringing disaster preparedness into resilience politics

Introduction

Most discussion of “sustainability” for the last 30 years has been about how to ensure that what we do today is not at the expense of future generations. This is supposed to be so that future generations are safe from the damage done when current generations over-exploit the planet and ruin their future.

That was the theory but the overuse of the planet’s resources happened anyway. Growth got priority and future generations will pay for the planet’s consumer class and the idiocy of its economic priesthood. Ecological footprint analysis tells us that humanity (or rather the rich part of the humanity) has been consuming natural resources as if there were 1.7 planets. This overshoot, the inappropriate growth promoted by mainstream economists may end up sending future generations into earlier graves. They have a right to be angry. Humans born now will inherit an exhausted planet with an increasing number and intensity of disasters. [1]

According to a recent UN report, damage has increased over the last 40 years:

“Between 1980 and 1999, 4,212 disasters were linked to natural hazards worldwide claiming approximately 1.19 million lives and affecting 3.25 billion people resulting in approximately US$1.63 trillion in economic losses.”

That was twenty years ago and it has got worse.

“In the period 2000 to 2019, there were 7,348 major recorded disaster events claiming 1.23 million lives, affecting 4.2 billion people (many on more than one occasion) resulting in approximately US$2.97 trillion in global economic losses. This is a sharp increase over the previous twenty years.” [2]

On current trends it will get worse again. We should not give up the campaigning against further overshoot but we now need to combine this fight with steps in communities to prepare for the disasters that are now baked in – because the growth fanatics cannot take in the dangers of rushing over planetary tipping points. We are facing climate crisis, biodiversity collapse, public health crises and economic turmoil that are already upon us.

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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