- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
The Atlantic hurricane season kicks off today, and the forecasts from NOAA are not promising:
They predict anywhere from 14 to 23 named storms to form in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. Of those named storms, eight to 14 should become hurricanes, including three to seven "major" hurricanes with wind speeds above 111 mph.
This prediction is the highest of any that federal forecasters have made since they began issuing seasonal hurricane forecasts in 1998.
To be fair, these forecasts don’t have a great record, but given what else is happening in the region, they are cause for concern. I hate to use that hackneyed cliche, "perfect storm," but the potential for environmental and humanitarian catastrophe this year does seem particularly worrying.
First there’s the gulf spill. Scientists don’t know exactly how hurricanes will affect the oil slick — it could push more oil toward Louisiana’s fragile marshlands, but could also assist in the biodegradation process. Either way, it would certainly disrupt the recovery effort, and the precedents aren’t exactly promising:
The lone precedent, experts agree, is the summer of 1979, when storms hampered efforts to contain a spill from a Mexican rig called Ixtoc 1 that eventually dumped 140 million gallons off the Yucatan Peninsula. Hurricane Henri, a Category 1 storm, damaged a 310-ton steel cap designed to stop the leak that would become the worst peacetime spill in history.
A bad hurricane season is also more bad news for Gulf Coast states already struggling with the loss of fishing and tourist revenue from the oil slick.
But that’s nothing compared to Haiti’s situation. Still reeling from January’s earthquake, the country is still far from prepared for hurricane season, the Miami Herald‘s Jacqueline Charles reports:
Some 1.5 million homeless earthquake victims remain under tents and tarps in at least 1,200 camps across the country. Roads remain cluttered with rubble. The Haitian government has designated only two new emergency relocation camps. And few hurricane-resistant transitional houses have been built as the government and international aid groups continue to wrestle with land issues: how to get more of it, how to put up temporary houses and how to get camp dwellers with safe homes to return, or seek higher ground
Initially, the U.S. military designated nine camps, including the Petionville Golf Club, as priorities because some 29,000 people in them were considered most at risk of being washed away with flash floods and landslides.
Since then, the International Organization for Migration has determined that engineers must inspect 120 camps in Port-au-Prince because of concerns about flooding, landslides or standing water from heavy rains. The inspections will determine the measures needed to reinforce the camps, said Shuan Scales, the agency’s camp planner.
At the same time, IOM has removed more than 263,000 cubic meters of garbage and sludge from more than six miles of storm drains — some haven’t been cleaned in 15 years — to reduce the risk of flooding in the capital.
The four storms that hit the island during the 2008 season left more than 800 dead, wiped out 60 percent of the country’s harvest, and left entire cities uninhabitable. Thanks to the earthquake, the country is even less prepared for flooding this year. The international community doesn’t usually get advance warnings of natural disasters. This is a pretty damn big one.
Daniel W. Drezner is professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a senior editor at The National Interest. Prior to Fletcher, he taught at the University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Drezner has received fellowships from the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard University. He has previously held positions with Civic Education Project, the RAND Corporation, and the Treasury Department.| Daniel W. Drezner |
Blake Hounshell is managing editor at Foreign Policy, having formerly been Web editor. Hounshell oversees ForeignPolicy.com and has commissioned and edited numerous cover stories for the print magazine, including National Magazine Award finalist "Why Do They Hate Us?" by Mona Eltahawy. He also edits The Cable, FP's first foray into daily original reporting, and was editor of Colum Lynch's Turtle Bay, which in 2011 won a National Magazine award for best reporting in a digital format.
Blake joined Foreign Policy in 2006 after living in Cairo, where he studied Arabic, missed his Steelers finally win one for the thumb, and worked for the Ibn Khaldun Center for Development Studies. Blake was a 2011 finalist for the Livingston Awards prize for young journalists for his reporting on the Arab uprisings, and his Twitter feed was named one of Time magazine's "140 Best Twitter Feeds of 2011." Under his leadership, in 2008, Passport, FP's flagship blog, won Media Industry Newsletter's "Best of the Web" award in the blog category. Along with Elizabeth Dickinson, he edited Southern Tiger: Chile's Fight for a Democratic and Prosperous Future, the memoirs of former Chilean president Ricardo Lagos, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012.
A graduate of Yale University, Blake speaks mangled Arabic and French, is an avid runner, and lives in Washington with his wife, musician Sandy Choi, and their toddler, David. Follow him on Twitter @blakehounshell.| Passport |