Dev­as­ta­tion, not the name, mat­ters in a cy­clone

The Pak Banker - - Front Page - K. Raveendran

THE gen­der bias in the nam­ing of deadly hur­ri­canes has gone against women, with all the re­cent cat­a­strophic storms tak­ing fem­i­nine forms, while those named af­ter men just played out with­out mak­ing any 'mark'. Rita, Ka­t­rina, Irene and now Sandy have all wreaked havoc.

The­o­ries abound as to how hur­ri­canes be­gan to be know by fem­i­nine names, with a few even sug­gest­ing that the pre­dictably un­pre­dictable tem­per­a­ment of, please note, some women may have in­flu­enced this prac­tice. Due credit must be given to the fem­i­nists in get­ting the World Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Or­gan­i­sa­tion to set­tle for a sys­tem in 1978, un­der which the prac­tice of nam­ing hur­ri­canes only af­ter women was aban­doned for good and, a new pro­ce­dure put in place to use both male and fe­male names. But strange weather com­bi­na­tions, air col­lu­sions and pres­sure dif­fer­ences are ap­par­ently con­spir­ing to frus­trate a more equitable and ac­cept­able so­lu­tion to the gen­der bias as hur­ri­canes named af­ter women continue to cause more wide­spread dam­age, deaths and de­struc­tion.

By all ac­counts, Sandy was the largest trop­i­cal storm ever recorded over the At­lantic Ocean, in­flict­ing to­tal losses of up to $50 bil­lion by pre­lim­i­nary es­ti­mates, which is some $5 bil­lion more than the dam­age caused by Ka­t­rina, the fiercest un­til last month, not count­ing the num­ber of lives lost.

While the pain and sense of loss will linger on for a long time, it is truly re­mark­able how the Amer­i­can pub­lic, ad­min­is­tra­tion and busi­ness have man­aged to take the sit­u­a­tion in their stride and see how best to come out of it. The wide­spread de­struc­tion of pri­vate prop­erty, pub­lic util­i­ties and in­fra­struc­ture will mean in­vest­ments of tens of bil­lions of dol­lars in re­pair and re­con­struc­tion, apart from a ma­jor boost in the de­mand for prod­ucts and ser­vices, in­clud­ing au­to­mo­biles, ma­chiner­ies and engi­neer­ing goods, and this has been recog­nised as trig­ger­ing a rip­ple ef­fect in the economies of the states. Some feel this might even speed up the US eco­nomic re­cov­ery. Most im­por­tantly, the re­con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity is expected to be funded through in­sur­ance claims.

This will un­doubt­edly put a ma­jor load on the global in­sur­ance in­dus­try, the reper­cus­sions of which will be felt in ev­ery part of the world, in­clud­ing the Ara­bian Gulf. The in­sur­ance in­dus­try has the con­so­la­tion that much of 2012 passed off rel­a­tively eas­ier, al­though the pos­si­bil­ity of more such nat­u­ral calami­ties would mean fat­ter pre­mi­ums and more di­ver­si­fied cov­er­age in the days to come.

There are par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant lessons for the Gulf re­gion and the Mid­dle East, where weather ex­tremes are now pos­ing far big­ger dan­ger to coun­tries and pop­u­la­tions than ever be­fore. Cli­mate change is now in­creas­ingly en­gag­ing the at­ten­tion of pol­icy plan­ners and ad­min­is­tra­tions of Mid­dle East and North Africa (Mena) coun­tries. Ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change, cli­mate in most of the re­gion is pre­dicted to be­come hot­ter and drier, lead­ing to in­creased pres­sure on ground wa­ter re­sources and oc­cur­rences of drought. The re­sult would be a loom­ing wa­ter sup­ply short­age.

With sea lev­els expected to rise by about 0.1 to 0.3 me­ters by 2050,and by about 0.1 to 0.9 me­ters by 2100, the threat is rel­a­tively high- er for the Mena re­gion com­pared to the rest of the world. Low-ly­ing coastal ar­eas of the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait and Egypt are be­lieved to be par­tic­u­larly at risk from this phe­nom­e­non.

The mem­o­ries of cy­clone Gonu, which dev­as­tated parts of Oman, are still fresh in mem­ory. The cy­clone that hit the Sul­tanate in 2007 with winds of 160 miles per hour caused wide­spread loss of life, apart from se­ri­ous dam­age to in­fra­struc­ture.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.