The destruction from Hurricane Harvey and its financial aftermath may allow the Western public, not just Houstonians, Texans, Americans, to grasp something vitally important and profound: rather than the trite gospel that climate change will create havoc in developing nations, the truth is climate change will create most poverty in developed countries. People living in shacks without public utilities will be imperilled yes, but they will, as they always have, move on and rebuild their shanties, adjust and cope as their governments, or lack thereof, neglect them. We, mollycoddled as we are, will, be baffled and bewildered as we, individuals and families, are bankrupted, simultaneously with our governments. People living in shacks are not mortgaged to the eyeballs, or insured. When thy lose their shacks, they lose everything. When Westerners lose they will set off chain of defaults. The scale of the financial calamity will be beyond comprehension and calculation.
The combination of topography and climate will simply doom certain cities. Places like Houston and Miami are not suitable to be metropolitan settlements of five million or more. Even as small cities they would still be humanitarian and economic liabilities. Miami could, just could, at this stage be the final port of call of Hurricane Irma. Miami acknowledges but has barely addressed the rising tides which flood the city so increasingly, so-called ‘sunny day flooding’. Alas, it going to take massive social upheaval in the West before politicians are forced to address the issues, which I won’t go into here.