It’s still faboulous summer weather in New York, but the country as a whole is preparing for the landfall of hurricane Rita on the Gulf coast of Texas probably early Saturday morning.
It’s an amazing story of the world’s greatest power being forced litterally to its knews by the forces of nature.
Outside Houston, NASA has evacuated the 15 000-person Johnson Space Center, including the famous Mission Control that has been and continous to be running all manned space missions.
Control of the International Space Station has been transferred from Houston to the space control facility just outside of Moscow in Russia. Even the small emergency crew has now been withdrawn.
One can not but wonder what long-term effects these two hurricanes will have on the United States. The fact that Rita follows directly after Karina probably takes some off the heat off President Bush, but at the same time there is bound to be a shift of priorities on a number of issues.
Rebuilding will have to be paid for. Already after Karina there was talk of 200 billion dollars, which is app the same cost as for the Iraq war so far. And it remains to be seen what Rita will cause in terms of immediate damage.
This has already re-ignited the debate about tax cuts as eroding the public finances versus tax cuts as a means of getting the growth out of which also rebuilding will have to be paid. At the end of the day, I guess the conclusion will be more towards the later position.
It will also cause a new debate on environmental issues. The link between alleged global warming and these hurricanes is far from clear, but the public perception is that there are more hurricanes, and thar this has to be caused by something.
It is not to be excluded that the global war against warming will start to compete with the global war against terrorism for the attention of decision-makers in Washington. Whether this is right or not, there is likely to be a narrowing of the gap across the Atlantic on the issue.
This is among the topics I will continue to discuss here tomorrow, as people from the financial industry is meeting to discuss ”the ten greatest risks to the global economy”.