It is hard this week not to be haunted by apocalyptic visions. Perhaps the most disturbing image, published in many newspapers, was the photograph taken in La Vita Bella Care Home in Houston, Texas, of a series of elderly ladies sitting waist deep in water. Thank God they were rescued. Hurricane Harvey has wreaked havoc in the State of Texas and, as I write, is heading for Louisiana. In 2005 I was in West Palm Beach when Hurricane Wilma barrelled through. It was an extraordinary and disturbing experience. I can still recall seeing bricks flying past our window. The damage caused by Wilma was 29.4 billion dollars. Harvey is likely to be a multiple of four.
There is no doubt in my mind that the intensity of these storms is increasing. The loss of life and the structural damage will rise. However, Donald Trump is a climate change denier and his administration continues to decimate the Environmental Protection Agency. In a clear case of global vandalism he withdrew the United States from the Paris Accord.
The Donald is aware that George W. Bush mishandled Hurricane Katrina and did enormous damage to his presidency. However, the truth of the matter is on his visit to Texas he revealed his true character.. He was totally focused on how it looked rather than showing real empathy with the victims. On arriving in Corpus Christi, delighted with the size of the crowed to greet him, he declared “ What a crowd, what a turn-out”. He never mentioned the victims, nor met with any. As per usual, it was all about the Donald, a man utterly obsessed by his own image and seemingly incapable of understanding the damage his policies are inflicting on the world.
If natural disasters amplified by the activities of man are not bad enough, the prospect of unnatural disasters are equally as disturbing. I am thinking, of course, of North Korea but also of an unbalanced and unpredictable President of the United States. The firing of a ballistic missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, over Japan on Monday represents a very distressing escalation of the crisis in the region. What is deeply worrying here is not just a defiant Stalinist leader in the form of Kim Jong-un but the temperament of Donald Trump acting as U.S. Commander-in-Chief. The fact that members of Congress and the Senate are now openly discussing restricting the President’s powers displays real anxieties about the United States stumbling into a catastrophic war that could cost millions of lives. This week an image keeps coming back to me. The album cover of “On The Eve of Destruction” by Barry Maguire. It shows an atomic explosion.