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哈维的教训

纽约—哈维飓风走了,留下的是生命损失和巨大的财产伤害,据估计高达1,500—1,800亿美元。但这场席卷德克萨斯州沿岸、维持了大半个星期的风暴,对美国经济体系和制度留下了深刻的问号。

当然,一个与气候变化关系甚大的事件,发生在一个存在如此多否认气候变化的人的国度,并且这个国家的经济又如此严重依赖助长全球变暖的化石燃料,这绝对是一个讽刺。当然,具体的气候事件,都未必与大气中温室气体含量上升直接相关。但科学家早就预测,温室气体含量的上升不但会提高平均温度,还会加剧天气变化——特别是飓风哈维等极端事件的发生。气候变化政府间委员会在几年前就推论,“证据表明,人为影响,包括大气中温室气体集中度的上升,已经改变了一些极端。”天体物理学家亚当·弗兰克(Adam Frank)简洁地解释道:“变暖意味着空气中水分含量增加,进而意味着更强的降水。”

诚然,休斯顿和德州本身并没有让温室气体增加很多,尽管它们本可以在推动强势气候政策方面扮演更加积极的角色。但地方和州当局可以更好地针对此类事件未雨绸缪,因为该地区遭受此类事件的频率并不低。

为了应对飓风——以及为灾后重建筹集一些资金——所有人都把目光转向了政府,一如他们在2008年经济危机后所做的那样。讽刺之处又发生了:这样的事情,发生在这个国家中政府和集体行动受到的诘难最多的地方。美国银行巨头到了有需要的时候就向政府伸手要援助也同样讽刺——它们一直在大肆宣传缩减政府规模、取消禁止它们的一些最危险和最反社会的行为的监管。

这些事件显然带来了深刻的教训:市场本身不足以提供社会所需要的保护。当市场失灵时——它们经常失灵——集体行动就十分迫切。

此外,和金融危机时一样,需要预防性集体行动减轻气候变化的影响。这意味着要确保建筑和基础设施的构造能够抵御极端事件,不要坐落在最容易受到严重伤害的地区。这还意味着要保护环境同,特别是湿地。湿地对于吸收风暴影响具有重要作用。这意味着消除自然灾害导致危险化学品泄露的风险——休斯顿就发生了这样的事情。这意味着制定充分的响应预案,包括撤离。

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需要有效的政府投资和强大的监管以确保所有这些结果,不论德克萨斯州和其他地区的主流政治文化如何。没有充分的监管,个人和企业就没有激励采取充分的预防措施,因为它们知道,极端事件的大部分成本会由其他人承担。没有充分的公共规划和监管,包括环境方面的规划和监管,洪水将更加严重,没有灾害规划和充分的资金,任何城市都有可能陷入休斯顿所经历的困境:如果不下令撤离,就会有很多人死去;但如果下令撤离,会有人死于因此导致的混乱,而交通瘫痪也将让人们难以撤出。

美国和全世界正在为信奉特朗普总统和他的共和党所宣扬的极端反政府思想而付出沉重代价。世界正在付出代价,因为美国的累计温室气体排放量比其他任何国家都要大,即便在今天,美国仍是世界人均温室气体排放量最大的国家之一。但美国也在付出沉重代价:其他国家,哪怕是海地和厄瓜多尔等贫穷的发展中国家,都已经学会了如何更好地管理自然灾害(常常要在为某个巨灾付出巨大代价之后)。

2005年新奥尔良被卡特里娜飓风摧毁,2012年纽约市大部因为桑迪飓风而瘫痪,如今,哈维给德克萨斯州带来了毁灭性打击,美国能够也应该做得更好。它具备资源和技能分析这些极端事件以及它们的后果,并制定和落实能减轻生命和财产损失的监管和投资计划。

美国所不具备的是右翼没有形成合理的政府观,这些右翼与从他们的极端政策中获益的特殊利益集团相互勾结,凭借三寸不烂之舌翻云覆雨。在危机前,他们抵制监管、反对政府投资和规划;危机后,他们要求——并得到了——数十亿美元补偿自己的损失,即使是那些原本很容易就能预防的损失。

我们只能寄希望于美国,以及其他国家,不要再需要大自然的教训才会去认真汲取哈维飓风的教训。

http://prosyn.org/J1jFkES/zh;

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