portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article commentary united states

corporate dominance | environment | katrina aftermath

Bush speech declares 'the War on Nature'

The Bush administration plans to use the disaster in the Gulf to push through a trojan horse containing all the right wing economic policies previously touted over the last five years by this regime. However, in order for the plan to succeed Americans must be willing to fight a superpower, with superior air power.
The disaster in the Gulf was the inevitable result of right wing Free Market policies, and in this way we can see that the destruction of the Gulf is one of the predicted consequences of these policies, as well as an unforseen consequence of the progress of 'globalization' in that these global processes are responsible for cutting a swath of destruction through the American economy, as jobs are shifted to low wage maquiladoras in third world nations, which then results in the pressure to 'be competitive' which then results in the strong swing to the extreme right wing taking place in America.

The cost of reinforcing the levees in the New Orleans metropolitan area to withstand a catagory five hurricane was estimated to be one to two billion dollars, while the cost of restoring the destroyed wetlands was estimated to be about 14 billion dollars. The cost of the disaster is now estimated to be about 200 billion dollars, showing that the tax cutting and program slashing of 'the free market' ideology was certainly not cost effective in this particular instance. Laid bare here is one of the great truths about 'the free market', in that costs are simply off loaded into the future, and the savings that are found today are illusions. There are many other examples of this off loading of costs. For example, large scale agricultural practices cause the loss of billions of tons of top soil each year, thus resutting in an agricultural system that is not sustainable. Similarly large scale mono-cropping produces cheap food, but degrades the soil, and once again money is made this quarter, but with increasing costs moved into the future. Katrina therefore functions as a kind of metaphor for how that free marketing system works on the much larger scale.

The Bush speech envisions the Gulf region becoming an 'economic opportunity zone' where business taxes will be low to non-existent, regulations will be suspended, wages lowered, and the Environmental Protection agency has already suspended all environmental regulations in the region. These are familiar policies, and the result when such policies have been instituted in other areas of the world is the creation of highly polluted, low wage maquiladoras. The free market dictates that if costs a buck to dispose of polluted waste, or the waste can be dumped into the environment for free, well then the waste will be dumped into the environment, thus making maquiladoras some of the most heavily polluted areas of the world. They also pay rock bottom wages for the same reason, and then the process results in the destruction of the American economy as once again the Free Market dictates that jobs be shipped off shore because its more profitable. So then just as the Free Market destroyed New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, it also destroys entire nations and the environment.

It is quite strange that the Bush proposals would include further deterioration of the environmental laws in the Gulf region, in particular when we consider that poor environmental planning was an important contributor to the disaster which then ensued. The net effect of the proposal is to involve America in just one more war, this time the 'war against Nature.' For natural forces dictate that there will be inundated wet lands along the Gulf coast, while administration policy dictates that there will maguiladoras in the area. Policy also dictates that wetlands will be handed over to private interests and developed and other policies also disturb the flow of sediments into the basin. The nation then becomes involved in a see saw battle with the forces of nature, a battle which no amount of armed force can win, as the wetlands are degraded and then natural forces set to work to restore those wetlands, resulting in huge financial losses. Given the nature of the eco-system in the region, and given how the wide spread destruction that just took place reveals the serious consequences of environmental degradation, it makes one wonder how many 'investors' will want to rise to the carrot on the stick, and sink money into maquiladoras in the region. Will even the great promise of free reign over the environment and lack of regulation be enough to attract dollars into an area which has now been declared a war zone in which American forces will be pitted against the planet's greatest superpower? How high would insurance premiums have to be to make such an 'investment' a worthwhile risk, and would it even be possible to get insurance?

The Gulf coast has wetlands because the Gulf produces hurricanes, and it is hurricanes that work to create and maintain coastal wetland ecosystems. Hurricane storm surges produce flooding, which then results in a mixture of salt water marshes, brackish marshes, and fresh marshes. Hurricanes erode wetlands, while at the same time hurricanes build up the wetland ecosystem. This building process occurs when the hurricanes pick up silt and then like a giant mixer scatter silt over the marsh lands. In some areas the deposition of silt will be so heavy it forms an island of soil, and changes the composition of the plants colonizing the area. A later hurricane may erode this island of soil and further distribute the soil through the wetland region, once again changing the composition of plants. In this way wetlands are a dynamic and constantly changing environment, with hurricanes changing both the salinity of the water, both destroying and creating the wetlands, and in the end over the thousands of years that these processes are at work a balance is achieved. The wetland and its marshes are created along the coasts, and given that wetlands absorb stiorm surges (about one foot for each kilometer of wetlands) these areas then form a naturally created buffer zone between the ocean and the land, and in effect hurricanes create their own buffer zones to protect the land from storm surges such as those which have just devestated the Gulf coast.

It is important to keep in mind that this buffer zone which protects the land from destruction is part of a process which involves the periodic storm surges created by hurricanes making land fall on the Gulf coast. Statistics indicate that an area of coast can expect a hurricane strike once every five to twenty years. Natural forces will go on attacking and flooding this region, since the area of devastation in the sourthern United States has been declared by nature to be not maquiladoras, as in the Bush proposal, but rather nature is indicating that these flooded and destroyed regions will now become the new wetlands, to replace those wetlands lost before. Over a period of perhaps thousands of years, nature will return these lands for private development, but only after the process of building wetlands pushes far enough back out to sea to allow these new wetlands to be reclaimed by the land.

It is interesting to note that just this one battle in the War against Nature has cost already as much as was spent on the War in Iraq (with an estimate of losses approaching 200 billion dollars). This should give people some pause as they reflect on the ruinous costs of getting involved in a war with a Superpower which possesses vastly superior air power. While the American media system has been hailing the Bush speech as though somehow it was the rebirth of 'the New Deal' in truth it is just a completely unrealistic rehash of a collection of old Bush policies from years ago, and in effect the Bush administration has learned nothing from the disaster, but instead plans to use the Gulf coast as a kind of trojan horse to push through its agenda on the rest of the country. For when wage regulations and environmental regulations are eliminated in the Gulf coast region, free enterprise logic then dictates that the entire country be transformed into a giant maquiladora, in order to 'remain competitive'. And the race to the bottom will be underway, the first shot having been fired as a supposed 'response' to the hurricane disaster in the Gulf. That the media would be portraying this all some kind of 'New Deal' or the birth of some great new age for America, is not surprising given the strong turn to the extreme right taking place in America in response to the erosion of the American economy in response to 'globalization'.

Only one problem remains, and that is to actually get someone stupid enough to sink money into that war zone in the Gulf, thus getting the process of converting America into a maquiladora underway. Given the threat of constant attack by superior air power and the landing of massive concentrations of troops on the shores (the inevitable result of nature's declaration of war against the United States of America) this is by no means a done deal.

homepage: homepage: http://www.awitness.org/