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Published on the Doomstead Diner on November 17, 2013
Discuss this article at the Environment Table inside the Diner
Last weekend the Phillipines got whalloped by yet ANOTHER disaster, a “Super-Typhoon. This is apparently the most powerful cyclonic storm ever, coming in bigger and harder than Sandy and Katrina combined. The storm pushed in a tidal surge of 6 meters, pretty close to the size of the Tsunami that hit Fukushima. Fortunately, the Phillipinos do not have a Nuclear Reactor around Tacoban.
For at least 10,000 Philipinos though, not having a Nuke to spill radioactive waste all over the island is not a big help, since they are dead anyhow. Death toll as of Monday anyhow, sure to rise over the days ahead, so by the time I publish on Sunday, I should have a more updated number. For those left alive, the situation is not a whole lot better, no electricity, no potable water, not much shelter since pretty much all the flimsy shacks they call homes were basically flattened. Even most of their public buildings were flattened, Emergency Shelters packed with refugees went down too.
Much 2nd guessing of the Philipino Goobermint also for not getting the people evacuated effectively, but really where would they send them? Well, higher ground would make sense if you are expecting a tidal surge, but they don’t have any shelters up in the mountains so basically people would have had to strap themselves to Trees up there to try to ride it out. Besides that it’s not like most Philipinos have SUVs they can jump into for a Bugout either. These are are pretty much dirt poor people of course. So basically they hunker down and hope for the best, but in this case they got the WORST.
In the aftermath, the NATO military sent in a few ships and Choppers, and pretty much every AID Charity in the Phone Book was already there. Why? Because the same neighborhood had a decent size Earthquake a few months ago, and before that they had enormous floods last year. Said 3 disasters have set one new record after another for Damage Costs, this one should be well over $1B, Chump Change here but Big Money in the Philipines. The only reason damage estimates are so low is because most of the shacks destroyed are pretty close to worthless Tin Roof and Scrap Wood jobs.
Now, the Philipines have always been in “Typhoon Alley”, getting an average of 24 a year or so, but of course prior to Ocean Cooking they didn’t pack quite such a whallop. Though they always had flooding issues, they didn’t get new Record Breaking flooding every year either. They also didn’t see near as much Earthquake activity either.
This is just the problem on the Weather/Geological side of the equation. The other side of the equation is the increase in Population size and the change in the way they live. Prior to WWII when the Philipines served as a Battleground for Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the Japanese Imperial Army, the place basically contained a few small communities and fishing villages scattered around the islands, no electricity, no running water, no industrial infrastructure at all. After the war, as a Protectorate of the FSoA Empire, they were leveraged up into the 20th Century, built some Big Shities and wired up the Islands for Juice. Like all the rest of the 3rd world countries, their population EXPLODED.
So now when you read stories about the disaster, you repeatedly read the line “Many Philipinos are cut off from BASIC SERVICES of electricity and running water.” In our psycho world, these pretty complex and expensive bits of infrastructure to maintain are considered “BASIC” services. They weren’t basic 100 years ago there, they didn’t even EXIST! They are basic now though, because in the absence of them the whole system falls apart. Now instead of having a few people living in vulnerable areas living a subsistence life, you have a LOT of people dependent on the same kind of JIT Food delivery as you do here, and when it STOPS they wander around like Zombies, “loot” whatever stores might have a few cans of food and as thirst catches up with them start drinking water from streams that are now polluted to beat the band in the first place, and with all the Dead Bodies floating around now also breeding up every disease carrying organism in the Microbiology Handbook.
This concept of “Looting” in a disaster also is one I have quite a few issues with. I would consider it “Looting” if somebody runs into the local Electronics store and runs out carrying a Plasma TV, quite unlikely to WORK anytime to soon around there anyhow. Is it “Looting” though to go through the busted window of a food store and scavenge for a few cans of beans that you might find? There are no cashiers working to PAY for the food anyhow! Electricity is OUT, EBT cards don’t work, HTF can you BUY it anyhow? This is not “Looting”, it is just pure SURVIVAL! You are supposed to “STARVE” rather than “LOOT”? What? If MY Hovel was just washed away with all my preps and I was lucky enough to not get washed out to sea with it, bet your bottom dollar I would climb out from the wreckage and see if I could scavenge up some Cans of Beans anywhere in the neighborhood! We need a new Definition/Words for this besides “Looting”. “Disaster Scavenging” maybe or “Food Seeking”, something a bit more Postive than “Looting”.
So they gotta fix all this stuff up and QUICK, except they can’t in most places because the roads are blocked by debris and downed trees, and they can’t even get Trucks through without Heavy Equipment clearing the pathways first. Do the Philipinos HAVE tons of Heavy Equipment to motor up and do this? Of course not. So really it falls to our friends the Army Corps of Bozos to ship in and clear all this out of the way for them. Who pays for that? You the Taxpayer of course.
Where does all the Money come for the Rebuild(s)? From Fresh New Loans issued to the Philipinos that get freed up whenever there is a Disaster, but otherwise are unavailable to them. This of course is Broken Window Economic Stimulus in the Krugman Handbook. Problem is, how do the Philipinos ever pay back these new loans, on top of the old loans they got after the last disaster collapsed their infrastructure? How many times can you keep repairing it all?
By now I think a decent portion of the damage done to the Jersey Shore and Long island from Sandy has been fixed up, though probably the worst hit areas were just Bulldozed and those folks now relocated elsewhere, living with relatives who knows? It is about GUARANTEED though sometime in the next few years the same thing will happen again, and if this insane economic system has not already crashed by then, they’ll do it all over again.
The reality is we can’t have so many peple living so close to the coastline, particularly at or near what USED to be mean Sea Level. This because it is not mean Sea level you gotta worry about, it is how high the Sea Level goes at Peaks. The Flooding events are not gonna happen from a slow creep of an inch or two a year up the beach, they come from when the Peaks get really big and inundate the shoreline a Kilometer or two in at a time. Said Peaks come from big Storm Surges and Tsunamis, and if you have more of both occurring (and you do), low lying areas will be rolled over by the oncoming waves and surf.
In all my growing up years probably until my mid forties I don’t recall a single event like Sandy occurring around my neighborhood, and the Indian Ocean Tsunami in the 90s was the first real big one I remember Globally. Now it seems like we get at least 1 or 2 of these Mega Events every year somewhere around the globe.
The bottom line of course is that people have to migrate away from the shoreline, at least in terms of Fixed housing and industry. Problem there is, currently this is where MOST of the world population lives! Reason of course is that most commerce depends on Shipping and all the “stuff” people depend on comes in on Container ships that need shore facilities to unload at, and those facilities need people to work in them, who obviously cannot be DRIVING long distances anymore to get to work! Besides that, even if you keep a Skeleton Crew at the Unload point for all the Junk, if the Factories and Konsumers who use the Junk are far inland, then you incur additional costs and use more fossil fuel to move the stuff inward.
So, in the absence of complete economic collapse of the monetary system, you won’t see a RAPID inward migration from the coastlines, and the infrastructure will be rebuilt as many times as they can muster up a new set of Loans creating more new money to Do it All Again, Amen. “I’m a Happy Idiot as I struggle for the Legal Tender” as Jackson Browne so aptly put it.
Although the movement in the near term is probably not going to come Suddenly, it will come inexorably. For people who had their whole lives ripped out from under them when Sandy hit, many do NOT return to their destroyed McMansions and try to rebuild. They become Invisible Refugees of Climate Change, first moving a bit inward to live with Relatives for a while, then eventually relocating somewhere else further in. If they are fortunate, they find New Jobs and restart their lives, but that occurs less and less often these days. Da Goobermint Statistics show ever more people dropping out of the Labor Force, not appearing on Unemployment stats but turning up elsewhere on the SNAP card roles and SSDA recipient lists. This particular Kludge also can only last so long of course.
Over in the Philipines, it is likely you will see another sort of Disapperance, that of Population itself, not just employed people. It is unlikely the MSM reports on it much (in fact the Philipine disaster already has dropped off the lead pages of the MSM), but many more people are likely to go to the Great Beyond there as a result of Disease and Suicide, stuck in a situation that was already quite hopeless, but at least livable. Now the situation is not just Hopeless, but unlivable also. Switching back to a subsistence life for most will be impossible, they will be stuck for months and years in Refugee Camps, and those camps also will be inundated by Typhoons and Tsunamis and Earthquakes. The Earth Giveth, and She Taketh Away, and she is taking it away from the Philipinos faster than in most places of the world right now, but this Show WILL come to a Theater Near You also.
Is there anything YOU personally can do about this problem? Well, if you live on a coastline at or near Sea Level, it would be a wise idea to think about moving NOW, rather than AFTER a disaster actually hits you. Its much easier to make a move while everything around you is functioning than after your home and SUV have been washed out to Sea of course. This is not a choice most Philipinos have, but if you are not already off the economic cliff here, you probably have a car and can Bugout in it to Somewhere Else.
There are of course a few real problems which most people face who currently live in such locations, first if you still HAVE a job, you don’t wanna give it up without having another one to go to. Then there is the problem of UNLOADING your McHovel to another Sucker who will buy the thing. Finally, many if not most people have Family and attachments to the place they grew up and live and they don’t WANT to leave, even if they KNOW eventually they are likely to be REALLY underwater, not just financially so. You Roll the Dice and you repeat the Mantra, “It won’t Happen Here, It won’t Happen to Me and my Family”. If you are LUCKY, it won’t, but the further we go down the road here, the lower your odds get on this one the closer you live to the shoreline.
The only other Option you have is preparing for the Fast Bugout, which only works of course if you get enough WARNING to make that bugout. Big Cyclonic Storms usually come with a few days warning these days, so if you have an SUV and a Bugout Package prepared, in most cases I think you can GTFO of Dodge in time with this type of event. Tsunamis, less so, the Tsunami Warnings are only a few hours in advance most of the time, and if the Quake that caused it is pretty close to you a lot less than that. If you happen to be playing a round of Golf or are busy making the Beast with two Backs with your Significant Other and don’t have a Radio playing, you probably miss the warning anyhow. Some communities do have those big Sirens, but not sure how prevalent they are everywhere. If it is an Earthquake, you get ZERO warning, there still is no method of predicting when a Big Quake will hit your locale, only statistics which say you are due for one in the next decade or something like that.
If you live AWAY from the shoreline, you still are not SAFE of course, though probably safer in most cases. However, on any given day out in Tornado Alley, the Funnel Clouds can start dropping down around you. As with the Cyclonic Storms on the coastline, usually there is pretty decent warning from NOAA, Jeff Masters on Weather Undergound and your local Weatherman when conditions are right for Tornadoes to hit your neighborhood, and these neighborhoods usually DO have Sirens that go off when Funnel Clouds are spotted. However, you better have your Bugout Machine pre-packed and Ready to Go in this situation, because when those Sirens go off it is usualy only minutes before the Tornadoes start hitting. Then you gotta know which way the weather system is moving so you know which way to GO, and not drive yourself into the middle of the disturbance. Mostly though, even out on the road you can see which way the system is going, and if you DO spot a MONSTER, which way it is going. If it is coming TOWARD you, go the OTHER WAY! FAST! Like Pedal to the Metal fast and don’t worry about the Speeding tickets either! Cars generally can outrun Tornadoes, the Tornado freaks do this all the time capturing the videos.
The bigger problem if you live in Tornado Alley is the Boy Who Cried Wolf problem. Probably 99% of the time when the sirens go off, the Tornado does not touch down on your McHovel. So if every time you hear it you jump in your Bugout Machine and go Running for them thar Hills, this gets a little wearing on you and you stop doing it, choosing instead to just head down to the basement and hope the thing does not land on your House and ship it to Oz. MOST of the time this will WORK, and even if your house does experience SOME damage, it is not flattened and you and the family are fine. You head over to Home Depot, by some plywood and new Windows and go back to BAU after makng the repairs. The problem only comes when the Tornado hits YOUR McHovel as Ground Zero, then not only is your McHovel Flattened but your Bugout Machine has gone to Oz without you, and you are left with NOTHING. So you do have to resist the temptation to complacency on this, not ignore the warnings and Do The Drill as often as it crops up in your Nabe.
There are other problems to deal with also in almost every spot, Wildfires in Remote Mountainous areas, Flash Floods, Volcanoes etc. Where I live on the Ring of Fire we got plenty of Volcanoes and Anchorage had an Earthquake back in ’64 bigger than the Sendai Quake which sent the Tsunami firing at Fukushima. So, it is a bit of a Dice Roll anywhere you go, but Coastlines have the worst Odds here, and they get steadily worse all the time with each passing year. So if you can evacuate now, this would be a good time to do so. At the very least, if you cannot leave now, know WTF the High Ground is.
For the Philipinos now, I don’t think their choices are much different or better than the Nips living on Honshu Island, even though they don’t have a Nuke poisoning the water supply. They either Evacuate or Die. It’s not going to get any better any time soon in either locale, and a good chance it gets a whole lot worse. Any given day under Fukushima Daichi they can get another big quake that brings down the whole containment facility and all the Radioactive Water Containment Tanks they have built around it now. The ground underlying Japan shakes like a Pole Dancer on Steroids, I have an Earthquake Monitor program on my laptop which shows almost constant 4-5 Mag Quakes under Japan every day. They’ll get another Big One there, it is GUARANTEED. Just a matter of WHEN, and every day they live on Borrowed Time. One can only hope before this occurs they MIRACULOUSLY get all the fuel rods out of there and we don’t see a Super Critical event, because this will do a lot more damage than to just Honshu Island.
In reality of course, MOST Philipinos HAVE NO CHOICE. They can’t leave, they don’t have money for Busfare much less a Plane Ticket out. Where to go that would accept them as Refugees, and what kind of Jobs or economic opportunity is there anywhere else? All they can do here is try to rebuild, long as the AID flows in with money to do so. For the Philipinos, FAST COLLAPSE has already come and gone. May still be Slow and Catabolic in your Nabe, but not for the Philipinos anymore.