Chapter 8: Disasters and human security: natural hazards and political instability in Haiti and the Dominican Republic
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The discussion on the impact of natural hazards on human security has gained momentum in recent years. Given the climate change scenarios of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), with predicted changes in tropical cyclone intensity, a growing world population, and a trend towards coastal urbanization exposing more people to natural hazards, and persistent poverty, scientists and policymakers alike are increasingly concerned with possible political ramifications of the impact of natural hazards. Apart from meteorological natural hazards, earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis are also believed to have destabilizing effects. But can these claims be substantiated? In the aftermath of a disaster, the media is often quick to report on chaos and acts of violence. Some attribute this outbreak of instability to the breakdown of the social order; as Timothy Garton Ash puts it boldly: “Remove the elementary staples of organised, civilised life – food, shelter, drinkable water, minimal personal security – and we go back within hours to a Hobbesian state of nature, a war of all against all” (Ash, 2005).

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