June 1 marks the first day of Atlantic Hurricane Season, and in the wake of last year's destruction at the hands of Charlie, Frances and Jeanne, things don't look good for 2005:

Earlier this spring, forecasters predicted another bad hurricane season. Now the predictions are even more ominous.

"The Atlantic is as warm as it's ever been, except in one year, 1998, which was a very active year. So, we think on a global scale there are a few negative climate signals there ..." says Dr. William Gray.

Dr. Gray of the Colorado State Hurricane Forecast Team predicts "15 named storms in the Atlantic this year." Eight will become hurricanes, he believes, and four will be major hurricanes.

As we've touched on here and in Southern Exposure, hurricanes and "natural disasters" are major political and economic events, bringing into sharp relief issues of poverty and race. Towns like Princeville, North Carolina in the low-income Southern Black Belt probably couldn't survive another hit from a high-grade hurricane.

As the United Nations points out, "there are no such things as 'natural disasters.'" There are only natural hazards, which become disasters due to the vulnerability of certain people and communities in our society.