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Super Storm Watch

OpenCanada considers the bigger questions posed by Hurricane Sandy.

By: /
31 October, 2012
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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.

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Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

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