Imagine an atomic bomb is hurtling toward New York City and cannot be stopped. Over 8 million people live in New York. The entire nation’s – even the world’s – economy depends heavily on the city. All of this and more is at risk.
Say some scientists at the Pentagon devised a way to knock that bomb off track. They can’t get rid of it completely, but they divert it to New Haven, Connecticut, instead – a city of less than 200,000. This is still a horrendous, tragic catastrophe, of course, but the ramifications would not be nearly as dramatic.
Should they do it? I expect most people not living in Connecticut would agree that this is a better alternative. And even Connecticut would fare better in five years should they lose New Haven instead of New York City.
After all, the scientists didn’t cause the disaster. They’re merely doing their best to limit its impact.
Of course, a hurricane is not an atomic bomb. It doesn’t spell out certain doom for the area hit, as our title suggests. In fact, rural areas are better able endure the intense force of a hurricane. When hit, the likelihood of lost lives is reduced dramatically. Reconstruction of rural areas is far less costly, consisting of far fewer and less complicated structures and roads. The economic damage in terms of businesses destroyed and resources lost to the region and nation would be minimal.
Please also note that the title above, which I did not write, directs the doom only toward rural residents. Meanwhile, assuming the doom is certain, the logical alternative – to doom a major city – is completely ignored.
In fact, we already frequently take measures to protect large metropolitan areas at the expense of rural regions for precisely these reasons. Levy systems, for example, are far better. Is this because we think it’s okay to doom rural residents? Of course not. It’s because it is far more feasible to protect one small area than to protect everywhere.
Additionally, the rural areas depend on the urban areas to help them rebuild. With the nearest urban area decimated, any reconstruction efforts are dramatically hindered, as we’ve seen during the efforts to rebuild New Orleans and surrounding communities.
With these taken into consideration, suppose it was possible to divert a hurricane. Suppose it was even economical – say it only cost $1 million. While I don’t wish a catastrophic storm upon anyone, it might very well be in the best interests of society to divert hurricanes away from major cities.
We didn’t create the weather. It might be very useful, however, to do a little damage control.