Statement on Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma
Statement written by the SPUSA Ecosocialist Commission and passed by the National Action Committee 9/12/2017
There is no need to debate the influence of global climate change on Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The record setting rainfall associated with Harvey and the size and intensity of Irma were the result of elevated water temperatures in the North Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, uncontrolled development of the Texas and Florida coasts have led to the high population densities and impermeable ground cover that amplified the consequences of these two storms. Hurricanes may be a force of nature, but human activity resulting from decades of unrestrained capitalism made normal occurrences into unprecedented tragedies.
The wind, storm surge and torrential rains associated with hurricanes may not distinguish between the rich and the poor, but there is a wide disparity in their impact on human lives. Poorer people and people of color are far more likely to live in areas prone to flooding where land is considered to be less valuable. When orders to evacuate are issued, not everyone has the means to develop and execute a plan to take them out of danger. With Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma there are even documented cases where homeless people were not permitted to take refuge in shelters and there was a reluctance on the part of some undocumented residents to register at some locations for fear of deportation. There is no reason that our society cannot offer protection to all in difficult times, but the federal government and the governments of the various states have been erratic at best in meeting their responsibilities. The stories of personal heroism we have all heard have demonstrated that the hearts of the majority of Americans are open and giving, but the capitalist system clearly does not reflect this.
The Socialist Party USA calls for a sustainable society where all people work together to address the challenges of climate change and take charge of urban development for the benefit of everyone instead of the profits of a few. We also call for economic and social justice for all people which includes the right to equal protection from natural catastrophes. We also call for assistance to all people affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, including the residents of the Caribbean Islands and especially the Island of Cuba.