"Sustainability." A rich lecture directed at the poor.

There is nothing fair about natural disasters, nor is it fair the way some people and some countries are afflicted more severely than others when faced by similar disasters.

I agree with what Johnathan Pearce said here:

richer countries, with superior building standards and better means of rescuing those in danger, tend to fare better when nature strikes.
Pearce links Rand Simberg, who sees an additional culprit
The devastation in that benighted country (our own little bit of Africa in the western hemisphere) demonstrates how deadly it can be to be poor, and why attempts to hold back economic growth in the third world with things like Kyoto and cap'n'tax are almost genocidal.
I do not doubt that ramshackle buildings in Haiti (along with the mud brick structures responsible for so many deaths in Iran's 2003 quake) would be considered more "green" by those who deliver homilies about "sustainability." (Oh, yes....) Well-meaning people advocate construction of "sustainable brick homes" in Haiti. And here's a "sustainable" Haitian earth bag building. No idea how well they "sustained" the quake, but sustainable is often code-language for cheap. Not that concrete is necessarily better than brick, especially because it appears many of the cheaply made Haitian concrete buildings simply "pancaked":
Entire hillsides of homes appeared to have tumbled, while in other areas structures stood unaffected next to piles of dusty debris. Some buildings lay in pancake-like concrete heaps.


U.S. officials said most of the damage appeared to be concentrated around Port-au-Prince, a teeming city of 2 million that sits like a hive of gray concrete that creeps up a mountainside rising out of the Caribbean. The homes are mostly made of cheap, porous concrete made with sand from nearby quarries.

Cheap, porous, sandy concrete sounds "sustainable," doesn't it?
In the aftermath of the quake, entire big-box apartment blocks had collapsed along roads carved into the hills. Rubble had blown out onto the roads. Next to the debris lay bodies, their faces dutifully covered by sheets.
I have no idea whether dead people are considered environmentally sustainable, and I probably shouldn't ask.

I agree with Reason Foundation's Samuel Staley,

Now is not the time to be adopting policies, domestically or globally, that make it more difficult to nation's such as Haiti to grow.
Environmentalist concerns over "sustainability" strike me as a cruel joke right now -- about as compassionate as Pat Robertson's remarks about how the Haitians are responsible because of an 1803 deal with the devil.

Haitians need help, not lectures.

The Anchoress has a list of good places where you can donate.

posted by Eric on 01.14.10 at 12:33 PM


In the aftermath of the quake, entire big-box apartment blocks had collapsed along roads carved into the hills.
I was wondering about that.

Building codes in third world crapholes are iffy at best and if you can bribe the "inspector", so much the better.

When walking in third-world cities I always get a weird feeling. It looks like America (if usually dirtier) but it's not.

For instance, I'll never walk on grates in the sidewalk in those cities, who knows if they're going to support my weight?
And if they collapse, I'm just a gringo/Murrican, which third-world dictator/bureaucrat is going to let me sue some poor local?

Government is why some places are good and some are bad. It's that simple.
And it's not just necessarily corruption, look at Boston. That's probably the most corrupt city in the nation but it's also one of the safest big cities. With a population approaching that of DC, their murder rate is nowhere near DC's.
So it's corrupt, but it's well run.
New Orleans, probably as corrupt as Boston, is not well run so it's a craphole.

Countries are like that too. What's the difference between the Dominican Republic and Haiti?
The Dominican's gov't isn't as thugocratic.

Veeshir   ·  January 14, 2010 1:02 PM

The point about sustainability isn't what's good for people (either as a whole or individually), it's what's good for the planet (i.e., the planet minus people). So, in essence, it doesn't matter to the Greens that the "sustainable" nature of the buildings in Haiti resulted in more deaths, because human deaths are not a consideration when talking about the "health" of the planet. (As a matter of fact, to many Greens, the resulting higher death toll is a feature, not a bug.)

John S.   ·  January 14, 2010 1:35 PM

"Haitians need help, not lectures."

True for most of us who experience the "rough".

Would someone here care to parse just how rough "rough" is?

Can a lone person here know a "rough time" equivilent to a collective rough time in Haiti?

It seems to me that the more people claiming to have it "rough", the greater the chance to catch the collective ear...then heart...then pocketbook.

Add a forecast of bad weather for some, global warming for others, and it gets crazy. Natural disasters work best, provided of course that your house wasn't the only house crumbling.

We like HUGE fault lines, and devastating hurricanes. Watch out for that tsunami!

And your personal pain?

lol Yeah, OK. Get a grip!

It's no longer about YOU.

Not EVER about YOU again.

Penny   ·  January 14, 2010 11:44 PM

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