This newsletter is a compilation of recent disaster ~things~ that I think are cool, important, or otherwise of interest to people who are intrigued with disaster (broadly defined).
There’s a little something for everyone!
Hello, my little balls of anxiety!!
I hope you’re all in therapy because the state of emergency management is searching for humanity.
Another month with no shortage of disasters from raging wildfires in New Mexico to terrible flooding in Bangladesh and India. COVID is still burning through the US, as you’d expect in a country whose public health policy is the embodiment of the shrug emoji. Also, monkeypox. The science is in on two disasters from last month and, as you might guess, Asia’s heatwave would have been ‘highly unlikely’ without climate change and the South African floods were twice as likely because of climate change.
Most of my attention has been on two mass shootings in the United States. The Buffalo supermarket shooting and the Robb Elementary School shooting in Texas. As with most disasters, we know how to prevent these types of events. We know the policy changes that need to be made because we’ve watched other countries make them. We also know this won’t stop happening until Republicans in Congress stop taking money from the NRA and vote for stricter gun laws. Gun control policy is hazard mitigation and to that point, Andrew Phelps had a good thread on the need for emergency managers to lead on this issue.
We Need to Talk About Eco-fascism
Eco-fascism is “a twisted blend of authoritarianism, white supremacy, ethnonationalism, and a misguided concern for the care of planet earth” It is predicated on the belief that “if the earth truly hangs in the balance, well then no measure is too extreme.” It’s also becoming a more common justification for mass shootings including Christchurch, El Paso, and most recently in Buffalo.
Last week, disaster fav Rebecca Solnit was on Hot Take. (See also last week’s Hot Take Newsletter.) On the show Mary and Amy discuss how as people on the far right come to terms with the fact that the climate is changing, their reaction won’t be to join climate activists and push for climate action, it will be to embrace eco-fascism. The implications for emergency management — between climate change, disaster policy, and managing future white supremacist eco-terrorist attacks is vast.
For a basic explainer: Eco-fascism: The Greenwashing of the Far Right
For a longer history: Whose Utopia? American Ecofascism Since the 1880s
For more on the relationship between the American Right and Eco-Fascism: Understanding the Alt-Right’s Growing Fascination with ‘Eco-Fascism’
Some of y’all need to remember that we can see what you post in there…
Book of the Month
When the Dust Settles: Stories of love, loss and hope from an expert in disaster by Lucy Easthope
One of the most anticipated disaster books of the year is finally here! If you’re on Twitter you will have seen the rave reviews for When the Dust Settles pouring in. The book follows Lucy’s life and career as a disaster planner – and particularly her experience with victim identification. This is a vital step in helping families, and communities, move forward post-disaster. The stories Lucy shares are humbling.
I will say that it took me some time to get through certain parts of the book. It invokes a range of emotions. The Guardian summed it up well, “When the Dust Settles is Easthope’s candid, unsettling and at times darkly funny account of a life spent planning for and dealing with the aftershocks of catastrophe.”
I was in the midst of reading this book when the Texas shooting happened and found it completely changed the direction of my thinking. I noticed the news articles about parents lining up to give their DNA to help identify their children among the dead. I spend most of my time thinking about the survivors but there is some comfort in knowing there are people like Lucy caring for the dead.
You can learn more about the book here and buy it here.
Important Disaster Media Coverage This Month
Former FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor wrote an op-ed on the need for Emergency Managers to “resist the status quo” and explored the changes needed in the next generation of emergency managers. There are some real zingers in here.
How FEMA Helps White and Rich Americans Escape Floods by Thomas Frank for Politico
Black Communities are Last In Line for Disaster Planning in Texas by Tracy Jan for The Washington Post
History at Risk: Port Maria, Birthplace of Jamaica’s First Slave Revolt, Braces for Climate Change Impact by Gladstone Taylor for Unbias The News
Here Are the Wildfire Risks to Homes Across the Lower 48 States by Christopher Flavelle & Nadja Popovich for The New York Times
India’s Heatwaves Are Testing the Limits of Human Survival by Ruth Pollard & David Fickling for Bloomberg
If you’ve read my book, Disasterology, then this will be of interest: $45 Million in Federal Funding Secured for Camp Ellis Erosion by Fred Bever for Maine Public Radio
The Grassroots Groups Filling Major Gaps in Disaster Prep, Recovery by Amal Ahmed for Southerly
Louisiana’s Insurer of Last Resort Adds 13,00 Policies As Private Insurers Falter and Retreat by Michael Finch II for Nola.com
As Climate Change Worsens Hurricane Season in Louisiana, Doulas Are Ensuring Parents Can Safely Feed Their Babies by Jessica Kutz for The 19th
Rehearsing for Northwest ‘Big One’ On A Room-Sized Chess Board by Tom Banse for OPB
The Gassing of Satartia by Dan Zegart for Huffington Post
The Growing Role of Mutual Aid by Tanya Gulliver-Garcia for Nonprofit Quarterly
The Broken Message: How Emergency Alerts Miss the Americans Who Need them Most by Matt Lyttle & Sophie Bennett for Homeland Security Today
Drought, Lack of Prison Inmate Hand Crews is Making Firefighting Even More Difficult by Rob McMillan for ABC 7
Burned to Death in a Prison Cell by Keri Blakinger for The Marshall Project
Katrina Survivors Sued By Louisiana After Using Grant Money To Rebuild by David Hammer & Richard Webster for ProPublica
New Texas Plan for Federal Hurricane Harvey Aid Yields Same Old Results: Funds Diverted Away From Gulf Coast by Zach Despart for Texas Tribune
Why Nearly 1,000 Bayou Parish Residents Are Still Waiting On FEMA Housing 8 Months After Ida by Kezia Setyawan for WWNO
Climate Disasters Drive Bangladesh Children From Classrooms to Work by Mosabber Hossain for Reuters
Surfside Condo Collapse Victims Reach $997 Million Settlement by Patricia Mazzei & Livia Albeck-Ripka for The New York Times
Weird Disaster News
I regret to inform you that apparently, the former president of the United States thought China was shooting us with a… ‘Hurricane Gun’.
The End Bits
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In case you signed up for this newsletter without knowing who I am (a bold choice!) you can read my book Disasterology: Dispatches From The Frontlines of The Climate Crisis to catch up! You can read a USA Today review here, order it here, or get it as an audiobook here. You can also find more from me on my blog, listen to this episode of Ologies, or follow me on Twitter and Instagram where I impulsively narrate my every thought.
Finally, this newsletter is ~FREE~. I plan on keeping it that way because eliminating barriers to disaster knowledge is important. However, I’ve created a “paid subscriber” option for $5 a month or whatever you’d like to give if you’re interested in supporting this work.
Hello, check out this new publication! (I am a co-author) https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56550035-the-future-of-emergency-management-after-2020