Arquivo da tag: Furacão Sandy

Hurricane Sandy no help to Obama in 2012 presidential race, new study suggests (Science Daily)

Date: June 5, 2014

Source: Union College

Summary: Results suggest that immediately following positive news coverage of Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath, Sandy positively influenced attitudes toward Obama, but that by Election Day, reminders of the hurricane became a drag instead of a boon for the president, despite a popular storyline to the contrary.

After Mitt Romney was defeated by President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, some political pundits and even Romney himself tried to pin the loss in part on Hurricane Sandy.

Observers, particularly conservatives, believed the storm was an “October surprise” that allowed Obama to use the trappings of his office to show sympathy and offer support for the victims. The devastating storm hit a week before Election Day, killing hundreds and causing more than $50 billion worth of damage.

But a new study examining the psychological impact of Sandy on people’s voting intentions indicate the storm’s influence was basically a washout.

“Results suggest that immediately following positive news coverage of Obama’s handling of the storm’s aftermath, Sandy positively influenced attitudes toward Obama, but that by Election Day, reminders of the hurricane became a drag instead of a boon for the president, despite a popular storyline to the contrary,” said Joshua Hart, assistant professor of psychology and the study’s author.

The study appears in the June/July issue of Social Science Research, a major journal that publishes papers devoted to quantitative social science research and methodology.

Two days after Hurricane Sandy made landfall Oct. 29, Hart began surveying likely voters when it became apparent the storm could impact the bitterly contested race between Obama and Romney.

Over the course of a week, the nearly 700 voters polled were asked about their exposure to the storm and related media coverage, as well as their voting intentions. Hart randomly assigned around half of each day’s sample to think about the hurricane before reporting their voting intentions, so he could compare preference for Obama versus Romney between voters who had been thinking about the storm, and those who had not.

Prior to the positive news coverage for Obama on Oct. 31, there was no influence of Sandy reminders on Obama’s vote share. This was also true on Nov. 1, the day after his well-publicized embrace with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie while touring the hard-hit Jersey Shore. It was that appearance in particular that angered Romney supporters since Christie was a Romney surrogate.

Obama did receive a slight bump in support from study participants on Nov. 2 and 3 who thought about Sandy before reporting their voting intentions, but by Election Day, this trend reversed, when news coverage of the storm shifted and became more negative, focusing on loss of life, lingering damage and power outages.

“The data suggest that people going to the polls Nov. 6 with the hurricane on their mind would have been less inclined to vote for Obama,” Hart said.

Still, that didn’t stop a number of pundits from speculating that the storm was a critical factor in Romney’s loss by slowing his momentum, despite polling evidence to the contrary. In winning 26 states and collecting 332 electoral votes, Obama received 51.1 percent of the popular vote to Romney’s 47.2 percent.

Shortly after the election, Romney insisted Sandy played no role in his defeat.

“I don’t think that’s why the president won the election,” Romney told Fox News, instead blaming his own “47 percent” comments and his inability to connect with minority voters.

Six months later, Romney changed his tune.

“I wish the hurricane hadn’t have happened when it did because it gave the president a chance to be presidential and to be out showing sympathy for folks,” Romney told CNN.

Hart said his study doesn’t reflect the whole of the story on Sandy’s effect in the 2012 race, but that the results say more about the pundits than the voters.

“What it says about voters, perhaps, is that it can be difficult to predict or intuit exactly how they are going to process something like Sandy,” he said.

“It depends on a number of variables and the effect may change over even shorter stretches of time. Yet pundits tend to seize on certain ‘laws’ such as presiding over a disaster makes an incumbent look presidential. But each event like Sandy deserves to be studied as a unique occurrence to help answer questions about the impact of unpredictable, large-scale events as they unfold.”

In trying to determine whether or how an event affects elections, Hart says that it is important to use experimental approaches to test the influence of “priming,” or activating thoughts of different topics, on voters’ attitudes, in addition to more traditional polling methodology.


Journal Reference:

  1. Joshua Hart. Did Hurricane Sandy influence the 2012 US presidential election?Social Science Research, 2014; 46: 1 DOI: 10.1016/j.ssresearch.2014.02.005

A system of disasters (

November 20, 2012

Mike Davis is an author and veteran activist whose many books include City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los AngelesPlanet of SlumsLate Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World and In Praise of Barbarians. He talked to Alan Maass about the natural and non-natural factors involved in Hurricane Sandy–and what shape New York and the East Coast will take in the aftermath of the super-storm.

Hurricane Sandy's flood surge inundates the boardwalk and beyond in Atlantic City, N.J.Hurricane Sandy’s flood surge inundates the boardwalk and beyond in Atlantic City, N.J.

LIKE ALL disasters, Hurricane Sandy revealed a lot about economic, social and political priorities–climate change being the question that received the most attention. What do you think are the most important factors to recognize?

THE TRUE story of Sandy is as much about real estate as global warming. Since the 1960s, everyone on the Atlantic seaboard who could afford it has wanted to live in a beach town or own a second home along the shore. This endless building boom, unrestrained by serious regional or national planning, has put several trillion dollars of prime real estate in harm’s way.

It has also grotesquely aggravated the affordable housing shortage by siphoning away state and municipal investment, as well federal fiscal relief, from the reconstruction of older neighborhoods and central cities. Huge public subsidies are hidden in the mansions on barrier islands and the “historic seaport” tourist zones.

At least among scientists and actuaries, there has never been any doubt that nature would collect a huge toll from this beach property bubble. Every generation or so, the Mid-Atlantic or New England gets smacked with a super-storm capable of bringing devastation as far inland as the Great Lakes.

Until Sandy, for example, the hurricane was the 1938 monster that made landfall on Long Island as a Category 3 (much stronger than Sandy) and surged over parts of the Rhode Island shoreline as a 15- to 17-foot wave. More than 800 people died. Less than a generation later, Hurricane Hazel didn’t desist until after it had drowned almost 100 people in Toronto.

Thus, even without the famous “hockey stick” of accelerated global warming, old-fashioned weather, including the occasional super-storm fueled by unusually warm coastal waters, would be producing escalating bills for storm damage. It is important for the left to understand this, since “global warming” can easily be used as an alibi to cover up the role of banks, developers and local governments in creating so much unnatural risk in the form of beach and barrier-island development.

THE STORM seems to have focused the minds of the U.S. elite about climate change, more than other events–witness the Bloomberg BusinessWeekcover headline “It’s global warming, stupid.” But will this lead to anything different?

THE MOST notorious impact of climate change, of course, will be the increased frequency of super-storms. The design strength of coastal protections, urban infrastructure and large shoreline buildings will be drastically depreciated. What the insurance industry and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers previously considered to be “hundred-year events” will happen every decade; “fifty-year events” will happen every two or three years.

More invisibly, rising sea levels–which some scientists believe is happening faster on the U.S. East Coast than elsewhere–will infiltrate coastal aquifers, raising water levels and thereby abetting flooding, as well as making water unpotable. Salt water is an insidious enemy of steel and concrete, and increased corrosion will shorten the lifespan of already elderly tunnels, bridges and electrical infrastructure.

Here, class politics kicks in again. Faced with the choice of becoming more like Holland or ending up like Atlantis, cities like New York will triage storm-damage repair and investment in new infrastructure. Saving lower Manhattan, for instance, may involve the construction of enormous floodgates in New York Harbor that will deflect storm surges and higher tides toward poorer parts of Brooklyn and Queens.

But even a triage strategy of preferential public investment for the wealthy parts of the metropolis may be beyond the means of New York and Albany as well as the global insurance industry. This was the obvious message sent by Michael Bloomberg’s endorsement of Barack Obama: New York and the Atlantic seaboard need federal investment on the scale of President Eisenhower’s interstate highway program.

SANDY FORCED the issue of climate change into the presidential campaign at the last moment, to the obvious advantage of Obama. But the record of Obama and the Democrats shows that no one should place much hope in them to deal aggressively with the threat.

THEORETICALLY, A 20-year federal program for rebuilding coastal infrastructure and protecting harbors might make eminent Keynesian sense. But it’s unlikely that Obama can disguise Stimulus Part Two as hurricane repair. I think the only question on the table at the present moment is how much austerity in lifeline programs the president will concede to make fiscal compromise possible.

Nor is it clear that the rediscovery of global warming as a clear and present danger will lead to new attempts to mitigate carbon emissions. Indeed, Sandy may have the opposite effect. A focus on repair and adaptation may further marginalize the case for carbon taxes. In any event, the shale energy revolution puts carbon in the driver’s seat for another generation or two.

Natural gas will continue to reduce the dependence of utilities on coal, but the coal will be produced anyway and exported to China. No wonder that Pricewaterhouse Coopers recently warned about the cataclysmic disruption of global supply chains as 6 degrees Centigrade warming appears the most likely future in 2100.

The politics of climate adaptation will be torturous since federal spending will involve large net tax transfers from one region or sub-region to another. Why should Tea Party activists in the Great Plains care about saving New York City? What Democrat would actually support something so unpopular as federal regulation of coastal development (even though a model exists in the Mississippi’s flood plain)?

And as Katrina showed, the poor inhabitants of the Gulf Coast, whose natural storm barriers have been sacrificed to the development of the oil and sulfur industries, have no advocates whatsoever. If large numbers of people are relocated from coastal target areas, they will not be the wealthy inhabitants of Hilton Head and its replicas.

Years ago, I enraged many people with an article entitled “The Case for Letting Malibu Burn.” There’s an equally strong case for letting elite beach resorts and second-home communities drown.

THOUGH LESS spectacularly than in New Orleans, the aftermath of the storm has exposed another failure of the federal response to disasters. In fact, it’s widely acknowledged that the volunteer grassroots efforts of Occupy Sandy have been more effective. What does this say about where we go next?

THE ROLE of Occupy Sandy confirms Rebecca Solnit’s thesis that disaster response usually comes from the bottom up, through the self-organization of the victims, and it often generates temporary “utopias” of cooperation and democracy.

But to build upon both the anger and hope in such situations requires programmatic initiatives. Until Mayor Ed Koch, who held the office in the 1980s, when ethnic backlash overwhelmed borough politics, the left in New York City–ranging from Socialists to Communists to Labor Party supporters to Black liberationists–had repeatedly contested the agendas of the Rockefellers on one hand and Tammany Hall on the other. The left offered astute analysis and put forward alternative municipal platforms, winning some historic victories–rent control, public housing and so on.

Taking New Orleans as the paradigm of disaster turned to elite advantage, it’s vitally important that Occupy and the “broad left” in New York anticipate, analyze and contest Bloomberg’s obvious attempt to build a new corporate consensus about the city’s future. And there is no better guide to how ruling class rules in Big Apple than Bob Fitch’s The Assassination of New York, published by Verso.

If Nelson Rockeller could deindustrialize Manhattan and drive away hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs for sake of rising land values, what will the new game bring?

Risk (Fractal Ontology)

Joseph Weissman | Thursday, November 1, 2012

Paul Klee, “Insula Dulcamara” (1938); Oil on newsprint, mounted on burlap

I began writing this before disaster struck very close to home; and so I finish it without finishing it. A disaster never really ends; it strikes and strikes continuously — and so even silence is insufficient. But yet there is also no expression of concern, no response which could address comprehensively the immense and widespread suffering of bodies and minds and spirits. I would want to emphasize my plea below upon the responsibility of thinkers and artists and writers to create new ways of thinking the disaster; if only to mitigate the possibility of their recurrence. (Is it not the case that the disaster increasingly has the characteristics of the accident; that the Earth and global techno-science are increasingly co-extensive Powers?) And yet despite these necessary new ways of thinking and feeling, I fear it will remain the case that nothing can be said about a disaster, if only because nothing can ultimately be thought about the disaster. But it cannot be simply passed over in silence; if nothing can be said, then perhaps everything may be said.

Inherent to the notion of risk is the multiple, or multiplicity. The distance between the many and the multiple is nearly infinite; every problem of the one and the many resolves to the perspective of the one, while multiplicity always singularizes, takes a line of pure variation or difference to its highest power. A multiplicity is already a life, the sea, time: a cosmos or style in terms of powers and forces; a melody or refrain in its fractured infinity.

The multiple is clear in its “being” only transitorily — as the survey of a fleet or swarm or network; the thought which grasps it climbs mountains, ascends vertiginously towards that infinite height which would finally reveal the substrate of the plane, the “truth” of its shadowy depths, the mysterious origins of its nomadic populations.

No telescopic lens could be large enough to approach this distance; and yet it is traversed instantaneously when the tragic arc of a becoming terminates in disaster; when a line of flight turns into a line of death, when one-or-several lines of organization and development reach a point beyond which avoiding self-destruction is impossible.

Chaos, boundless furnace of becoming! Fulminating entropy which compels even the cosmos itself upon a tragic arc of time; are birth and death not one in chaos or superfusion?

Schizophrenia is perhaps this harrowing recognition that there are only machines machining machines, without limit, bottomless.

In chaos, there is no longer disaster; but there are no longer subjects or situations or signifiers. Every subject, signifier and situation approaches its inevitable as the Disaster which would rend their very being from them; hence the nihilism of the sign, the emptiness of the subject, the void of the situation. Existence is farce — if loss is (permitted to become) tragedy, omnipresent, cosmic, deified.

There is an infinite tragedy at the heart of the disaster; a trauma which makes the truth of our fate impossible-to-utter; on the one hand because imbued with infinite meaning, because singular — and on the other, in turn, meaningless, because essentially nullified, without-reason. That the disaster is never simply pure incidental chaos, a purely an-historical interruption, is perhaps the key point: we start and end with a disaster that prevents us from establishing either end or beginning — a disaster which swiftly looms to cosmic and even ontological proportions…

Perhaps there is only a life after the crisis, after a breakthrough or breakdown; after an encounter with the outside. A life as strategy or risk, which is perhaps to say a multiplicity: a life, or the breakthrough of — and, perhaps inevitably, breakdown before — white walls, mediation, determinacy.

A life in any case is always-already a voice, a cosmos, a thought: it is light or free movement whose origin and destination cannot be identified as stable sites or moments, whose comings and goings are curiously intertwined and undetermined.

We cannot know the limits of a life’s power; but we know disaster. We know that multiplicities, surging flocks of actions and passions, are continually at risk.

The world presents itself unto a life as an inescapable gravity, monstrous fate, the contagion of space, time, organization. A life expresses itself as an openness which is lacerated by the Open.

A life is a cosmos within a cosmos — and so a life opens up closed systems; it struggles and learns not in spite of entropy but on account of it, through a kind of critical strategy, even a perversely recursive or fractal strategy; through the micro-cosmogenetic sieve of organic life, entropy perversely becomes a hyper-organizational principle.

A life enters into a perpetual and weightless ballet — in a defiance-which-is-not-a-defiance of stasis; a stasis which yet presents a grave and continuous danger to a life.

What is a life, apart from infinite movement or disaster? Time, a dream, the sea: but a life moves beyond rivers of time, or seas of dreaming, or the outer spaces of radical forgetting (and alien memories…)

A life is a silence which may become wise. A life — or that perverse machine which works only by breaking down — or through…

A life is intimacy through parasitism, already a desiring-machine-factory or a tensor-calculus of the unconscious.

A life lives in taut suspension from one or several lines of becoming, of flight or death — lines whose ultimate trajectories may not be known through any safe or even sure method.

A life is the torsion between dying and rebirth.

Superfusion between all potentialities, a life is infinite-becoming of the subjectless-subject. Superject.

Journeying and returning, without moving, from the infinity and chaos of the outside/inside. A stationary voyage in a non-dimensional cosmos, where everything flows, heats, grinds.

Phenomenology is a geology of the unconscious, a problem of the crystalline apparatus of time. Could there be at long last a technology of time which would abandon strip-mining the subsconscious?

A chrono-technics which ethico-aesthetically creates and transforms virtual and actual worlds, traces possibilities of living, thinking, thinking; diagnoses psychic, social and physical ecosystems simultaneously.

A communications-strategy, but one that could point beyond the vicious binary of coercion and conflation — but so therefore would not-communicate.

There is a a recursive problem surrounding the silence and darkness at the heart of a life; it is perhaps impossible to exhaust (at least clinically) the infinitely-deferred origin of those crystalline temporal dynamisms which in turn structure any-moment-whatsoever.

Is there a silence which would constitute that very singular machinic ‘sheaf’, the venerated crystalline paradise of the moved-unmoving?

Silence, wisdom.

The impossibility of this origin is also the interminability of the analysis; also the infinite movement attending any moment whatsoever. It is the history of disaster, of the devil.

There is only thinking when a thought becomes critically or clinically engaged with a world, a cosmos. This engagement discovers its bottomlessness in a disaster for thought itself. A disaster for life, thought, the world; but also perhaps their infinitely-deferred origins…

What happens in the physical, economic, social and psychic collapse of a world, a thought, a life? Is it only in this collapse, commensurate with the collision, interference of one cosmos with another…?

Collapse is never a final state. There is no closed system of causes but a kind of original fracture. The schizophrenic coexistence of many separate worlds in a kind of meta-stable superfusion.

A thought, a cosmos, a world, a life can have no other origin than the radical corruption and novel genesis of a pure substance of thinking, living, “worlding,” “cosmosing.” A becoming refracts within its own infinite history the history of a life, a world, a thought.

Although things doubtless seem discouraging, at any moment whatsoever a philosophy can be made possible. At any time and place, this cyclonic involution of the library of Babel can be reactivated, this golden ball propelled by comet-fire and dancing towards the future can be captured in a moment’s reflection…

The breakdown of the world, of thought, of life — the experience of absolute collapse, of the horror of the vacuum, is already close the infinite zero-point reached immediately and effortlessly by schizophrenia. Even in a joyous mode when it recognizes the properly affirmative component of the revelation of cosmos as production, production as multiplicity, multiplicity as it opens onto the infinite or the future. (Only the infinity of the future can become-equal to a life.)

That spirit which fixes a beginning in space and time, fixes it without fixing itself; it exemplifies the possibility of atemporality and the heresy of the asignifying, even while founding the possibility of piety and dogma.

The disaster presents thought and language with their cosmic doubles; thought encounters a disaster in the way a subject encounters a radical outside, a death.

Only selection answers to chaos, to the infinite horizon of a life — virtually mapping infinite potential planes of organization onto a singular line of development. Only selection, only the possibility of philosophy, points beyond the inevitability of disaster.

The disaster and its aversion is the basic orientation of critical thought; thinking the disaster: this impossible task is the critical cultural aim of art and writing. Speaking the truth of the disaster is perhaps impossible. A life encounters disaster as the annihilating of the code itself; not merely a decoding but the alienation from the essence of matter or speech or language. The means to thinking the disaster lie in poetic imagination, the possibility of the temporal retrojection of narrative elements; the disaster can be thought only through “unthinking” it: in the capacity of critical or poetic imagination to explore the means by which a disaster was retroactively averted. The counterfactual acquires a new and radical dimension: not the theological dimension of salvation, but a clinical dimension — the power to of think the transformation of the conditions of the disaster.

The repo girl is at the door (London Review of Books)

Mike Davis, 3 November 2012

In the spirit of Donald Rumsfeld we might distinguish between natural inevitabilities and unnatural inevitabilities. Someday, for example, the precarious flank of the massive Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma in the Canary Islands will collapse and send a mega-tsunami across the Atlantic. The damage from Boston to New York City will dwarf last year’s disaster in Japan. It’s inevitable, but volcanologists don’t know whether the destabilising eruption will occur tomorrow or in five thousand years. So for now, it’s merely a titillating topic for NOVA or the National Geographic Channel.

Another, much more frequent example of natural inevitability is the pre-global-warming hurricane cycle. Two or three times each century a perfect storm has crashed into the US Atlantic seaboard and wreaked havoc as far as the Great Lakes. But a $20 billion disaster every few decades is why we have an insurance industry. And even the loss, now and then, of an entire city to nature (San Francisco in 1906 or New Orleans in 2005) is an affordable tragedy.

But the construction since 1960 of several trillion dollars’ worth of prime real estate on barrier islands, bay fill, recycled swamps and coastal lowlands has radically transformed the calculus of loss. Subtract every carbon dioxide molecule added to the atmosphere in the last thirty years and ‘ordinary’ storms would still collect ever larger tolls from certifiably insane coastal overdevelopment.

Carbon, however, has never been more prosperous. Global emissions, by the most optimistic estimate, conform to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s ‘worst case’ scenario. The World Bank, for its part, now accepts the inevitability of a global temperature increase of at least 2 degrees Celsius – near the famous ‘red line’ of the last decade’s climate Cassandras. The Bank, moreover, is refocusing developmental aid from mitigation to adaptation.

This is the true meaning of Hurricane Sandy: the repo girl is at the door. Climate change adaptation is a synonym for a multi-trillion-dollar reconstruction of urban coastal infrastructure and land-use patterns. Imitate the Dutch or live in Waterworld.

How long will it take for this realisation to percolate through the tumoured brain of American politics? Until 2006, American public opinion was broadly in step with European concerns about global warming. Following Climategate, however, the energy-industry-subsidised right went on the offensive and polls recorded a dramatic decline in public perception of climate change as a scientific fact.

Even more surprisingly, opinion surveys tracking public reactions to extreme climate events, like the recent epic drought in the Great Plains, have failed to detect significant change in opinion. The presidential race, meanwhile, has largely been a contest about which candidate stoops lowest to administer oral sex to fossil fuel producers.

The business press exults in the brilliant future of shale gas and non-traditional oil. The USA, for the first time in 63 years, is a net exporter of oil products. And we are locked into fossil fuel dependence for another generation or two.

Alternatives are dissolving. Creating green jobs, the major industrial strategy of the Obama administration, has been a complete bust thanks to the shale gas revolution and China’s dumping of cheap solar energy cells on the world market. The meltdown of Europe’s carbon trading system, moreover, has hardly bolstered the credibility of ‘cap and trade’ in an American recession.

Hard rains and rising tides on the Jersey shore, alas, do not automatically translate into enthusiasm about renewable energy or an urgency to build dykes. Eventually, however, the change must come and Washington will start to pay the compound interest for failing to mitigate warming or reform land use.

But this isn’t the truly bad news. The grimmest reckoning is the inverse relationship between the costs of climate change adaptation in rich countries and the amount of aid available to poorer countries. The tropical and semi-tropical poor countries that are least responsible for creating a greenhouse planet will bear the greatest burden of coastal inundation, extreme weather, and agricultural water shortages. Not that it was ever likely that the emitters would ride to the rescue of the poor people downstream, but Sandy is the beginning of the race for the lifeboats on the Titanic.

O lobo mau (FSP)

04/11/2012 – 03h30

Carlos Heitor Cony

RIO DE JANEIRO – Um dos motivos do nosso orgulho nacional, que o próprio Lula invocou há tempos, é que não temos vulcões nem terremotos. Nossas relações com o planeta Terra são relativamente boas, temos enchentes que não chegam ao nível de furacões. Os nossos temporais produzem vítimas e estragos, mas a culpa não chega a ser da natureza, mas da legislação e da fiscalização nas áreas de risco. As tragédias que sofremos neste setor poderiam ser minimizadas.

Com os Estados Unidos a barra é mais pesada. Na Costa Oeste, os terremotos, e, na Costa Leste, os furacões. No meio, entre os dois litorais, os tornados. O país mais rico e poderoso em tecnologia ainda não encontrou um sistema que controlasse os desvarios da natureza. É tão indefeso diante das catástrofes como as ilhas Papuas, que, aliás, sofrem menos neste departamento.

Vimos as cenas provocadas pelo furacão Sandy, que praticamente reduziu Nova York, por algumas horas, a uma cidade que poderia integrar a Baixada Fluminense.

Felizmente, o povo americano sabe se virar em situações iguais. Em setembro de 1985, enfrentei o furacão Glória, estava em White Plains, as autoridades pediam que se enchessem as banheiras para impedir que elas voassem. É a síndrome do Lobo Mau que destrói a choupana dos Três Porquinhos com seu sopro formidável.

Passei horas grudando fitas gomadas nas janelas, reforçando os vidros que se estraçalhavam. Clima de fim de mundo. Os supermercados foram esvaziados, num deles cheguei a comprar latas de sardinhas feitas em Niterói. Tinha a volta marcada para o dia seguinte, a companhia aérea me localizou e me aconselhou a ir para o JFK enquanto houvesse trânsito regular. Dormi duas noites no aeroporto, em cima das minhas malas. “God bless America”.

De Sandy a Deus (FSP)


Algo me diz que a aproximação de Brasil, África do Sul e Austrália será boa para os três países

SE HOUVESSE um supremo tribunal interplanetário para julgar a culpa pelos efeitos dramáticos do furacão Sandy, gerados pelos habitantes da Terra contra a natureza, talvez a decisão fosse condenatória. As mortes e a destruição decorrentes do Sandy justificariam uma pergunta hoje de uso comum: como ficaria a dosimetria? Quem foi, e em que grau, responsável pelo mau uso da superfície, do ar e das entranhas do planeta no hemisfério norte?

O limite da pergunta se explica. Nós, do hemisfério sul, começamos a intervir na vida dos continentes há menos de 600 anos. Os do norte assinalaram sua presença há uns 12.000 anos -boa parte do hemisfério sul era desconhecida pelo menos até o século 16.

Esses 600 anos marcaram a ocupação de todo planeta. Mesmo assim, só no século 20 surgiram muitas das duas centenas de nações novas, com independência ao menos formal. Desapareceram colônias de países europeus e asiáticos nos cinco continentes.

O avanço dos conquistadores eurasiáticos nessa área marcou a história da Terra. O remanescente apenas alcançou o nível de vida civilizada, segundo os padrões ocidentais, quando conquistadores europeus se instalaram no México e nos Estados Unidos e igualmente com a verificação da terra que se sabia existir na latitude atingida por Pedro Álvares Cabral.

Percebo a pergunta do leitor: por qual a razão uma coluna jurídica precisa dar tantas referências geográficas? Simples: a Constituição brasileira enuncia princípios que, favorecendo relações internacionais, preservam, no art. 4º, a independência nacional; garantem regras de autodeterminação dos povos e de não intervenção. O mesmo resulta do art. 21, I (relações com outros Estados e organizações internacionais), colocando sob o presidente da República a condução do relacionamento externo.

O aprofundamento do exame impõe o conhecimento das áreas envolvidas. Existem três países de grande extensão territorial ao sul do Equador -Austrália, África do Sul e Brasil- com expressão bem marcada no cenário internacional. Os 50 milhões de sul-africanos ocupam 1,2 milhões de quilômetros quadrados, muito menos que os 7,7 milhões da amplitude australiana, mas de população rarefeita e modesta, na casa dos 21 milhões. Ambos menores que o Brasil nos dois quesitos, pois somos 192 milhões espalhados em 8,3 milhões de quilômetros quadrados, com milhares de cidades.

Dois outros pontos diferenciam os três países: hoje se pode dizer que o território brasileiro está inteiramente ocupado. Não a Austrália, nem tanto por ser o país mais plano do mundo, mas pelos seus quatro grandes desertos. A África do Sul ainda vive consequências da política da separação entre brancos a negros, até a segunda metade do século 20.

Dentre os três, se for o caso de composição uniforme dos interesses multinacionais, nosso país tem presença marcante, o que não obsta a associação dos três para percorrer caminho mais adequado para o futuro comum. A composição dos instrumentos legais para viabilizar a aproximação tem a vantagem de facilitar o acesso marítimo, pelo Oceano Atlântico e pelo Indico, só no hemisfério sul. Algo me diz que, de Sandy a Deus, a aproximação do sul será boa para os três na linha reta do trópico de Capricórnio.