Devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey in Houston was made worse by reckless development

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 5:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 September, 2017, 11:22pm

The terrific rainstorm and flooding that devastated Houston, Texas (caused by Hurricane Harvey), should be a warning siren to leaders and people around the globe, and especially to President Donald Trump of America and his supporters in the energy industry.

In some ways, it’s the bitter fruit of the industry’s attempt to deny climate change, to continue emitting huge amounts of ozone layer contaminants and to lobby against the conservation of energy.

What’s more ironic is that it happened in Texas, a state with many Trump admirers.

Houston is a sprawling complex of low-lying suburbs on a plain a few kilometres from a storm-prone Gulf of Mexico – a geography that resembles that of Bangladesh.

It doesn’t require a rocket scientist to foresee that, with rising sea levels, the worst is yet to come. The city politicians allowed developers to wipe out the bayous and grassy areas that absorbed rainwater, covering them with concrete.

They probably don’t care about the island dwellers in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, but now it’s these Houston politicians’ turn to suffer the consequences of reckless development, climate change denial and self-serving lobbying.

It should be no secret that most social evils are linked to greed. Although nature can sometimes be harsh, we humans make it much harsher by our disrespect for nature’s laws, by excessive, non-sustainable growth and by corruption in politics.

The earthquakes in China that killed hundreds of schoolchildren were so deadly because of cheating, shoddy construction and an almost criminal lack of geological study, warning devices and rescue equipment in known earthquake-prone areas.

The major world powers, the US, the UK, Russia, China, India and France, spend lavishly on the latest deadly weapons and neglect earth science. Their best scientists are busy planning how to eliminate the “enemy”. Who is the enemy? Other human beings, of course, and our Earth – which is being violated by assault and by neglect. We will have to pay the price.

If Trump and his counterparts in the other powers don’t wake up to reality soon, there will be many more Houstons in our lifetime. Many Americans will have to learn the bitter truth of the adage, “The citizens of a country get the leaders they deserve.”

Jason Kuylein, Stanley