Hurricane Otto devastated Central America in the last couple of days and no one was ready for it. People living in Nicaragua and Costa Rica are used to extreme storms and know how to take precautionary measures against them. But none of them expected a hurricane so late in the year. Had the storm come in April or May, it still would have resulted in the loss of many innocent lives, but at least people would have been ready for it and a catastrophe could have been avoided. Being accustomed to the hurricane season made central americans particularly sensitive to the changes produced by global warming. Now, Otto is breaking all kinds of records by cementing itself as the strongest hurricane in the tropical Atlantic basin to hit so late in the year.
As we all know, human pollution has had extremely detrimental effects on the environment, and has resulted in multiple calamities throughout the years, most notably in third world countries that lack the proper infrastructure to fight back. This has been felt in Indonesia, Haiti and Chile, among countless others. The effects of man-made natural disasters are amplified even further when you become unable to predict when one might occur. Now, all sense of security is put on jeopardy because mass chaos could strike at any moment and without notice. Central Americans are used to relying on their years of experience dealing with vicious storms, but now they have to be on their toes at all times.
This severely undermines not only their sense of agency over their own lives, but also other less abstract concepts like their country’s economic advancement. Economies struggle when they have to pay investors high risk premiums, and no investor is gonna want to dump his cash on a country that could be struck by a hurricane at any time, unless he gets a juicy premium for taking such a risk. Third world countries already have to deal with political and social unrest, and adding environmental unpredictability just makes it a lot harder to progress.
Its easy to downplay this as another hurricane out of dozens, but the fact that this came at such an odd time of the year means that people living in those countries have to be constantly fearful of the looming specter of mother nature. Now more than ever is the time to control carbon emissions and expand environmental protection programs, and more thought should be paid to the effect we have on people thousands of miles away, simply trying to get by.