Myanmar was recently devastated by a natural disaster, something that is all too common these days. As always, the United States and other countries are pitching in with aid and support. However, there is evidence that the Myanmar military is seizing the aid supplies rather than turning it over to those who are truly in need.
The military junta that now controls Myanmar seems to be acting in this way to limit the number of foreigners in the country and also for other political reasons. It is, sadly, not uncommon for those in power to take actions to maintain their power at the expense of those who are suffering.
This situation reveals many problems, but two problems that stand at the forefront are these: First, the effects of natural disasters are getting increasingly more severe. Part of this is due to the growth in human populations (more people means that more people are hurt and killed). Part of this is due to urbanization and population concentrations. Perhaps part of this is also due to climate changes. Whatever the causes, it is clear that we need to be far more prepared to deal with environmental dangers. Currently, our preparations are inadequate and our defenses are extremely weak. Myanmar is yet another event in a series that includes New Orleans and other devastated cities. Second, political and social factors have a huge impact in such disasters. As just noted, we are poorly prepared and poorly defended. Also, when a disaster hits, there is often interference with the aid attempts and/or it is poorly implemented (as in the case of Katrina). While we cannot control the weather (yet) we can influence the actions of other people. As such, much needs to be done in creating a more effective way of dealing with the human impediments in such disasters. Sadly, the lust for power, greed, stupidity and incompetence are hard foes to fight.