KSJ Tracker November 13, 2013

Storms are inevitable; devastation doesn't have to be.

The AP's Seth Borenstein reminds us in a quick but important story this week that while storms such as Typhoon Haiyan cannot be prevented, the devastation they cause can be--or at least it can be sharply reduced. Poverty, shoddy construction, and a booming population are among the factors that can be managed to minimize the staggering consequences of huge storms, Borenstein writes.

As Kerry Emanuel, an MIT meteorologist, told Borenstein, "You have a very intense event hitting a very susceptible part of the world. It's that combination of nature and man. If one of those ingredients were missing, you wouldn't have a disaster."

The same point was made by others, including Alex Thomson of The London Evening Standard, Alex Spillius of The Telegraph,  and Brad Plumer of The Washington Post.

Humans are also responsible for the global warming that could have been at least partly responsible for the magnitude of the typhoon, Borenstein notes.

Whether it's encouraging to think that we can prevent the devastation we're now seeing in the Philippines--or whether it's disturbing to realize that we didn't--I will leave to you.

-Paul Raeburn

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