Was Hurricane Katrina a “natural” disaster?

I was listening to an interview with a significant and now retired engineer who was bristling under the President’s comments that Katrina was a natural disaster. The engineers point was that the catastrophe of New Orleans was man made. It was man made in that it was a failure of engineering rather than the fierceness of the storm that led to so much destruction. It is a tale of misspent money, sloppy accounting, carelessness and unfocused priorities. While some citizens might be correct in criticizing the money spent trying to protect a city under sea level, the fact is that we had the means to do so, spent the amount of money it would take to do so, but that money was not spent so that the job could get done.

This brings to mind how many of the world’s “natural” disasters are not natural at all. They occur in a direct relationship to humankind’s moral decision making. The devastation in Haiti was a direct function of a failed government and policies in place that made the country susceptible to an earthquake in an extreme manner. With the right building codes, the destruction would have been minimal. The dust bowl days of the Plains states was a direct result of mismanagement of the land that focused on maximum productivity with minimum stewardship. And many would see the phenomenon of global warming and its supposed negative effects as another example of “natural” disasters.

One scientist I listened to recently commented that it was his opinion that roughly 70 to 80 percent of what we call natural disasters are direct results of moral decision making by our race.

Is this not in line with the curse we find in Genesis 3 that correlates the state of the physical world to the state of humankind’s moral world. And it is in line with Paul’s comments in Romans 8:20,21.

Even in today’s economic crisis, which clearly is tied to moral decision making, the suffering of so many is due to a life of consumption with little or no savings. The reality is that a great number of people would have been spared this suffering if they had not already been living on the edge. 40% of Americans retire with less than $25,000 put aside for retirement. For these people government has to be the answer to making it in the retirement years. And when anyone has to rely on the government for basic goods and services, we are indeed in trouble. And when government plays that role, then the possibilities for corruption and fraud increase exponentially.

The point is that there are far fewer natural disasters than we think. We are living in a time of moral disasters. And the price we are paying is severe.

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