Ida illustrates how death tolls are declining from natural disasters
In today’s newsletter, the levees held; thousands flee California’s fires; a victory for wetlands; how trees make us smarter; wisdom by Sylvia Earle; and curbing invasive species ... by eating them.
This article is an adaptation of our weekly Planet Possible newsletter that was originally sent out on August 31, 2021. Want this in your inbox? Sign up here.
The silver lining in New Orleans is an example of a worldwide trend: Globally, the number of deaths from natural disasters, which fluctuates sharply from year to year, has trended way down in recent decades. That’s true in absolute terms, and even more so when calculated as a percentage of global population, which has dramatically increased during the same period. Humans are smart. We can adapt and learn to protect ourselves.
Within limits, of course—and there is no question, as the recent IPCC report made plain, that climate change is probing those limits. It’s intensifying hurricanes in the Gulf, for example, and intensifying drought in California and elsewhere in the West, which makes the fire season there