ROBERT WRIGHT

Crisis, What Crisis?

More history, less hysteria

Harvey & Irma

As destructive as hurricanes Harvey and Irma were in the continental U.S., the cost in human lives was astonishingly low—just 85 fatalities, of which only 13 came in Irma's wake. The reason is not simply that Americans got lucky, but that emergency preparedness has improved dramatically since 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. “It’s no accident,” says former FEMA official Richard Serino. "We’ve been training people for this for the last 16 years.” Climate radicals and skeptics are already in open warfare over the storms' epistemological significance. But they ought to agree on one thing. If the sine qua non of 21st-first-century climate politics is "mitigation and adaptation," Harvey and Irma will stand as triumphs of the latter.