These last couple of weeks, we have experienced natural disasters in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Tornadoes have raked through parts of the city. Heavy rain has swollen the Keystone reservoir. The Arkansas River is within inches of being higher than it has ever been. Though relatively few people have actually been harmed by these disasters, all Tulsans have had to be ready to evacuate from either or both of these kinds of catastrophes. Just today, Tulsa was on the national news again, this time because the flood waters are receding as fast as they rose.
And that is where being a member of a family or a network of friends is very important. My wife and I have a sturdy home not far from the river; though not on low land, flooding is possible. My daughter and son-in-law have a flimsy apartment on high land. And I have a second home, the one where I reside when I teach at the university in Durant, 160 miles away, out of the current danger zone.
In the event of flood, we will go to my daughter’s apartment; in the event of tornado, they will come to our house; in event of both, we all go to Durant. We have a plan. Those who do not have family or friends have only one place to go: an evacuation shelter.
My family is really fortunate to have the flexibility of three residences. A network of family and friends is, and has been throughout history, the most important way that humans have survived, and recovered from, disasters.
Natural disasters will become larger and more unpredictable in the future because of global warming. This is Tulsa’s third “five-hundred-year flood” since 1984. The only way the world can survive climate change disaster will be international cooperation. Many nations are cooperating in global warming prevention and adaptation.
The United States used to be one of those nations. But, as part of his interminable anger, Donald Trump pulled us out of international agreements on global warming. And, in several other ways, he has done his best to piss off even our closest allies.
It’s not just tension with China. Trump refused to endorse the joint statement from the 2018 G7 meeting. Our allies in the G7 group of nations seem to have decided that they must cooperate among themselves, leaving America in its self-imposed tantrum. Below is a BBC news photo, available at the link above, that shows a typical moment in what is supposed to be constructive cooperation between America and its allies:
Leaders in this photo, besides Trump and Bolton, include Japan's Shinzo Abe (4), Germany's Angela Merkel (6), France's Emmanuel Macron (7), and Britain's Theresa May (8).
As a result, the United States cannot expect any international assistance in the event that we should suffer a natural disaster, or, for that matter, any other kind of disaster. Trump says that he wants a policy of America First, but what he is actually doing is creating a policy of America Only. In so doing, we are rejecting any help that anyone else might ever be willing to give us. We are like the man who tells his family and friends that under no circumstances will he take shelter in their houses if floods or tornadoes come.
As we have known since the days of Petr Kropotkin, mutual aid (cooperation), a form of evolutionary altruism, is our most important human adaptation. Trump is rejecting nature’s most important evolutionary accomplishment.