This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: anaged to tum disasters to its long-term advantage, whether by ensuring that a large portion of the reconstruction funds in Afghanistan went into the expensive road infrastructure for a new pipeline (while most other major reconstruction projects stalled), or by pushing for a new investor-friendly oil law in Iraq while the country burned, or by piggybacking on Hurricane Katrina to plan the first new refineries in the United States since the Seventies. The oil and gas industry is so intimately entwined with the economy of disaster-both as a root cause behind many disasters and as a beneficiary from them-that it deserves to be treated as an honorary adjunct of the disaster-capitalism complex. he recent spate of disasters has translated into such spectacular profits that many people around the world have come to the same conclusion: the rich and powerful must be deliberately causing the catastrophes so that they can exploit them. In July 2006, a national poll of U.S. residents found that more than a third of respondents believed that the government had a hand in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East." Similar suspicions dog most TERRORIST ATTACKS, WHICH USED TO SEND THE STOCK MARKET SPIRALING DOWNWARD, NOW ENJOY UPBEAT RECEPTIONS T ESSAY 57 THE CREEPING EXPANSION OF THE DISASTER INDUSTRY INTO THE MEDIA MAY PROVE TO BE A NEW KIND OF CORPORATE SYNERGY of the catastrophes of recent years. In Louisiana in the aftermath of Katrina, the shelters were alive with rumors that the levees hadn't broken but had been covertly blown up in order to keep the rich areas dry while cleansing the city of poor people. In Sri Lanka, I often heard that the tsunami had been caused by underwater explosions detonated by the United States so that it could send troops into Southeast Asia and take full control over the region's economies. The truth is at once less sinister and more dangerous. An economic system that requires constant growth while bucking almost all serious attempts at environmental regulation generates a steady stream of disasters all on its own, whether military, ecological, or financial. The appetite for easy, shortterm profits offered by purely speculative investment has turned the stock, currency, and real estate markets into crisis-creation machines, as the Asian financial crisis, the Mexican peso crisis, the dot-com collapse, and the subprime-mortgage crisis demonstrate. Our common addiction to dirty, nonrenewable energy sources keeps other kinds of emergencies coming: natural disasters (up 560 percent since 1975) and wars waged for control over scarce resources (not just Iraq and Afghanistan but lower-intensity conflicts such as those in Colombia, Nigeria, and Sudan), which in turn spawn terrorist blowback (a 2007 study calculated that the number of terrorist attacks has increased sevenfold since the start of the Iraq war). Given the boiling temperatures, both climatic and political, future disasters need not be cooked up in dark conspiracies. All indications are that if we simply stay the current course, they will keep comi...
View Full Document
This note was uploaded on 04/19/2011 for the course AMST 150 taught by Professor Perkinson during the Fall '10 term at University of Hawaii, Manoa.
- Fall '10