Super Storm Watch

OpenCanada considers the bigger questions posed by Hurricane Sandy.

By: /
31 October, 2012

Hurricane (or now Tropical Storm) Sandy is disrupting everything from air traffic to financial flows this week. Politicians and pundits are weighing in on the usual “is this climate change” debate, as well as seizing the opportunity to point out how global warming has figured (or not) during the American presidential race. For less wind-filled analysis, check out Andrew Revkin’s NYT Dot Earth blog.

There are potentially more interesting questions to consider while waiting for the floods to abate and the power to come back on. One is how natural disasters affect international relations (political and economic) in a networked world.  

Stock markets went quiet as the storm hit. While updates are constant, it’s difficult to predict how quickly normal trading will resume and or the total costs of productivity losses.

Another question is how disasters of this scale can impact state-to-state relations. When a state suffers from a severe earthquake or flood, for example, questions – often politicized – relating to the size and delivery of international aid surface. When and how countries choose to step up is worth analyzing, as the UN Institute for Sustainability and Peace is doing, particularly now that the fallout from disasters, whether natural or man-made, is rarely confined within state borders.

A storm, however massive, hitting the United States won’t present an opportunity to consider “disaster diplomacy” (fingers-crossed) but it is an opportunity, to wade through some of the deeper issues relating to environment and security.