Natural disasters don't matter for the reasons we think they do. They generally don't kill a huge number of people. Most years more people kill themselves than are killed by Nature's tantrums. And using standard measures like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) it is difficult to show that disasters significantly interrupt the economy.It's what happens after the disasters that reNatural disasters don't matter for the reasons we think they do. They generally don't kill a huge number of people. Most years more people kill themselves than are killed by Nature's tantrums. And using standard measures like Gross Domestic Product (GDP) it is difficult to show that disasters significantly interrupt the economy.It's what happens after the disasters that really matters-when the media has lost interest and the last volunteer has handed out a final blanket, and people are left to repair their lives. What happens is a stark expression of how unjustly unequal our world has become. The elite make out well-whether they belong to an open market capitalist democracy or a closed authoritarian socialist state. In Myanmar-a country ruled by a xenophobic military junta-the generals and their cronies declared areas where rice farms were destroyed by Cyclone Nargis as blighted and simply took the land. In New Orleans the city was re-shaped and gentrified post Katrina, making it almost impossible for many of its poorest, mostly black citizens to return.In The Disaster Profiteers, John Mutter argues that when no one is looking, disasters become a means by which the elite prosper at the expense of the poor. As the specter of increasingly frequent and destructive natural disasters looms in our future, this book will ignite an essential conversation about what we can do now to create a safer, more just world for us all....
|Title||:||The Disaster Profiteers: How Natural Disasters Make the Rich Richer andthe Poor Even Poorer|
|Number of Pages||:||288 Pages|
|Status||:||Available For Download|
|Last checked||:||21 Minutes ago!|
The Disaster Profiteers: How Natural Disasters Make the Rich Richer andthe Poor Even Poorer Reviews
Dovetailing neatly with a journalist's view in 'Disaster Capitalism' by Anthony Lowenstein which I read recently, this look at The Disaster Profiteers examines who profits and why from natural disasters. Haiti, New Orleans and Myanmar are studied along with Hurricane Sandy and other events from a science point of view. For instance, why does a large earthquake have little impact on Japan's modern economy while years later Haiti is still struggling to rebuild? We're told that there is a thread of renewal after harmful events, replacing old buildings, machinery and processes with new and improved ones, so Haiti which had not had an earthquake in 200 years was on the floor to begin with, while Japan regularly rebuilds. The stages are described as planning before the event, during the event and its immediate aftermath of media coverage and aid, then the gradual rebuilding process. A developed economy has money, experts and workers to spare for rebuilding but a poor economy has only bare hands. The figures quoted in this book bear out the statement in Disaster Capitalism by Anthony Lowenstein, that almost all the aid money sent to Haiti went to companies and workers from outside the nation. We're also told that it was foreign troops who brought in cholera with them, making the people distrustful of outside aid. This is an immensely readable book for those who want to understand and don't mind looking at a few graphs. Hurricanes and earthquakes are explained as natural processes. And poor countries don't have science students or seismometers in some cases. The photos are also very helpful. Some show images from space of which countries are lit by night. These are wealthy lands. The Korean peninsula is startlingly dark above the national divide, with one bright square for the capital city. We can see the crumpling fault zone on which Haiti's capital is built, and on which its new housing is also being built. We get great economics lessons and an understanding of how rich people grab land from displaced farmers in the wake of disaster. The rich people have also chosen secure, safe homes while poor people are living in flood or mudslide zones, cramped together with bad transport routes. Rape after disasters, we are told, is commonplace as displaced women are not in secure homes and with their friends. But this applies to poor women. The rich women have, quite naturally, hightailed it out of there with their families, and they won't miss the odd looted bit of jewellery or handbags; it's insured, and they have money in the bank, and they can claim for rebuilding their mansion.Oxfam International's report in 2014, Wealth: Having It All and Wanting More, tells us that by 2016 over half the world's wealth and resources will be owned by just 85 people. The excellently written 'The Disaster Profiteers' explains in part how this occurs, with contracts sometimes given to those with friends or relatives in government to rebuild or supply services. To balance the tale, the author John C Mutter reassures us that while an increasing global population means that more people live in unstable areas, far fewer people die each year from disasters than used to be the case. I strongly recommend reading this book for anyone wishing to understand both natural processes and economic ones in our globalised world. I also believe we should be demanding more transparency in how aid money is spent.
Unintentionally, this was a really timely read in the middle of the US hurricane season. I didn't love how the book was organized - it wasn't entirely clear from one chapter to the next how the author's point was meant to build, but the information that was shared was certainly eye-opening. It's a good study of a few large natural disasters in the past and how the natural, political, and social dynamics of it each came into play before and after the disaster to shape the impact of it on the local population. Most eye-opening of all was the realization that sometimes, first world (US) countries don't always handle disasters any better than third world ones.
John Mutter, a natural scientist by training, explains how natural science alone is insufficient to understanding natural disasters. Natural science can help calculate the probability of an event, but it cannot predict its social and economic consequences. And it is these long-term consequences--what happens when the event passes and the media leaves, etc.--that can often be overlooked. So many aspects of natural disasters are political--from the allocation of funds for aid to the way damage is calculated (As Mutter notes, GDP is a very limited metric for reasons such as its ignorance of the informal sector), and the way that deaths are counted (high casualty counts and low casualty counts can serve specific ends). Wealthier countries are usually better-equipped to handle natural disasters (both in terms of the event and the recovery afterwards) because of stronger institutions, better dissemination of information, and more resilient infrastructure. But there are divisions within countries as well--both in poor countries (example: the earthquake in Haiti in 2010) and in rich countries (example: Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans). He also discusses case studies in Chile, Sri Lanka, Japan, and Myanmar. Disasters exacerbate existing social, economic, and racial/ethnic inequalities. The gap between rich and poor will grow at least because the rich recover faster--if not because of land grabs, no-bid contracts, and "shock doctrine" privatizations (think: education in New Orleans) afterwards. Unfortunately, the discussion of disaster profiteering itself was underdeveloped--perhaps because the focus on sweetheart deals, spiraling contractor costs, embezzlement, and privatization is more the work of an investigative journalist than a scientist. And Mutter does have a problem of venturing into speculation when he doesn't have (or didn't look for) sufficient sourcing to answer some of his questions (such as why violence often spikes after a disaster). He starts talking about Ferguson in his conclusion, which--although the militarized response offers a link to disaster responses--felt out-of-placeNonetheless, his central point is still key, captured well in the conclusion: "Most important of all is to recognize that disasters are economic and political in nature as much as, perhaps more than, they are natural events." And that has major implications for how we prepare and how we reconstruct afterwards. 3.5 stars (giving it a 4 because I can't do half stars and I'm in a generous mood)
This is a well written and descriptive analysis on disaster relief. The author goes into detail about several of the larger, more recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the Haiti earthquake, the Tohoku earthquake/tsunami, as well as lesser known disasters like Cyclone Nargis, the Rana Plaza collapse, and the Chilean earthquake.If you are interested, but don't know the details of any of these disasters, then this is the book for you. The author goes into great detail about the disasters and the government and economic statuses of the countries at the time of the disaster. But if you are well versed in any of these events, you may find yourself skimming through the dozens of pages of description.The overall theme of this book is the rich win and the poor lose. The author illustrates this by comparing GDP, income inequality, and corruption levels of the countries where these disasters have occurred as well as looking at recovery efforts. In many cases where countries built back stronger, gentrification of these disaster struck areas pushed out the poor, but brought in more business which in turn made some areas stronger then before they were hit.While the writing and research was excellent, I was disappointed that the book didn't more reflect its title. I was wanting to read more about specific people, corporations, and NGOs that benefit from disasters: the profiteers. What I got was more of a summary of the disasters and the conclusion that in each situation poor people suffered more than others. I guess I was expecting more of a breakdown of corrupt organizations or where well meaning efforts have failed beneficiaries. So overall, good for a general breakdown of the events of these disasters, but no so munch info on the actual profiteering.