Face au déchaînement de la nature

Le séisme au Pakistan s’inscrit dans une effarante vague de catastrophes naturelles qui dure depuis un an : tsunami dans l’Océan Indien, sécheresse meurtrière au Niger et dans d’autres pays d’Afrique, ouragans Katrina et Rita, glissements de terrain en Amérique centrale et incendies ravageurs au Portugal.

Ces événements ne sont pas liés, et de tout temps l'espèce humaine a été victime des bouleversements naturels. Cependant, certains points communs apparaissent, qui sont des mises en garde : nous ne sommes pas préparés à ces catastrophes qui se reproduiront à coup sûr.

La croissance démographique exponentielle a placé un grand nombre de personnes dans une position de vulnérabilité extrême jusque-là inédite. La planète compte à présent 6,5 milliards d’habitants, soit quatre milliards de plus qu’il y a cinquante ans. Selon les Nations Unies, les courbes actuelles devraient faire grimper la population mondiale à 9,1 milliards d’habitants d’ici à 2050.

À mesure que la population augmente, des milliards de personnes se concentrent dans des zones à risque : sur des côtes ravagées par les tempêtes et la montée du niveau de la mer, dans des régions montagneuses sujettes aux glissements de terrain et aux séismes, ou dans des zones où la pénurie d’eau provoque sécheresses, famines et maladies. Évidemment, ce sont les plus misérables qui vivent et travaillent dans les endroits les plus exposés, et meurent quand survient une catastrophe naturelle.

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