German Papers Criticize US Over Katrina | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 01.09.2005
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German Papers Criticize US Over Katrina

As the sheer extent of destruction of property and lives left behind by hurricane Katrina becomes more apparent, German newspaper editors commented on Thursday that global warming played a key role in the disaster.


Consequences of lax environmental policies

The Berliner Zeitung was of the opinion that human beings march ever-more forwards. "Whoever wants to keep New Orleans as a city has to build higher dams. After the next hurricane or storm, even higher ones. Whoever wants to keep New Orleans as a city, must accept the fact that every meter a dam is raised, the city will be in greater danger. Neither hurricanes nor a river like the Mississippi can be controlled -- particularly not in times of climate change. Humans may think they have the technology to conquer nature but that is a constitutive error of civilization, without which humans would not be what they are."

"It is too much. We are sick of catastrophes. It is superfluous to argue what influence mankind has on natural catastrophes. One thing is certain: There have always been extreme weather events, but now they happen in a more densely-populated world and the extent of the disaster is spread quickly through the mass media. Because of globalization, the catastrophe on the Mississippi threatens the world's economy. The hurricane and flood destroyed economic goods and growth not only in the USA. We also feel that the events affect us also. "The Big Easy" has disappeared," commented the Braunschweiger Zeitung.

Hurrikan Katrina Lage in New Orleans Flüchtlinge

People walk along Interstate 10 near the Louisiana Superdome as their future remains future

"Is this the key to the widespread religiosity in the USA that so many Europeans think is exaggerated?" asked the Tagesspiegel in Berlin. "All across the country, Americans have sympathized with those who have lost loved ones after having to let go of a husband's, wife's or child's hand. And they have celebrated the heroes who told incredible tales of survival. Yet nobody seems to believe that such catastrophes can be avoided if we work together properly with nature. There's also hardly a hint of criticism towards President Bush's climate policies. Yet without a blink the media compare the disaster to the tsunami, or Hiroshima or Nagasaki -- leaving some Europeans wondering. They see that nature is more powerful, so Americans decide that there is nothing left to do but to take the licking, roll up their sleeves and start rebuilding. The country, as paradoxical as it may sound, gathers its belief in light of the humbling experience that it is a true world power."

"US President George W. Bush again stands in the crossfire of criticism from environmentalists. He stubbornly refuses to sign the Kyoto climate protection treaty. He prefers to listen to the business lobbies who preach ad infinitum that climate protection slows down economic growth. Nature, however, is more powerful than the economy. She has her own laws," commented the Hamburger Morgenpost.

George Bush Hurrikan Katrina

US President George W. Bush looks out the window of Air Force One over New Orleans

"The dams have broken in New Orleans -- and not just literally. The flood -- a cultural symbol for chaos throughout the history of mankind -- brought with it the anarchy of looters," wrote the Heilbronner Stimme. "Those areas of society where the collective was already fragile to begin with were swept away along with public order by Mother Nature like a prefabricated house. The US government then reacts with martial law in response. Oh, how Eden-like it is here in Germany, where soldiers can concentrate on carrying sandbags during a flood."

"The environmental and climate policies in the USA have to be equated with energy policies," wrote the Süddeutsche Zeitung in Munich. "The best regulatory means is, first of all, the price of gasoline. Next best is the global competition on the commodities market. Washington has taken notice of China's attempts to access the American energy market with alarm. The oil lobby has, however, satisfied the US Congress again and avoided drastic cuts in the energy bill. All of these are the twitches of an energy-based political dinosaur."

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