Monday, January 03, 2005


Costly Narratives

This article, culled from from the ever-informative Khaleej Times, is well worth the "read the whole thing" dictum. Please do. Consider:

AKARTA - Indonesian scientists monitoring the earthquake that struck Sunday December 26 off the island of Sumatra, triggering a tsunami killing thousands of people in the region, said they were helpless to warn neighbouring countries about the pending disaster due to a lack of adequate technology and a warning system.
A system that monitors the ocean for tsunamis was installed in the Pacific Ocean years ago, giving countries like Japan advance warning when one of the disastrous waves is expected to strike.
Harjadi said that such a monitoring system - estimated to cost some 2 million U.S. dollars - has always been deemed too costly, and the push by scientists to get such a system installed was met with heavy Indonesian bureaucracy and a lack of enthusiasm from potential donors in Japan.
The MSM will probably let this story slide, cuz it doesn't involve corporate greed or some other now-standard "narrative" ... and that too will only contribute to the continuance of the problem. This is a moral shame, because even just a small amount of sunshine could do so much.
The United States and Europe are earthquake-prone. Yet, earthquakes killing more than 10,000 haven’t occurred in them, only in the Third World.

Hurricanes frequently hit the US. But their toll is incomparably smaller than in Bangladesh, India or the Philippines.

The average natural disaster kills 63 people in Japan. But in Peru, the average toll is 2,900-46 times higher.

Around the same time as Latur in India, California was hit by an earthquake which was 100 times more powerful. Only one person died in the US; while 11,000 died in Latur.

In 1985, when Hurricane Elena hit America five people died. In 1991, when a cyclone slammed Bangladesh, 500,000 perished.
Time to fix the problem, not play politics with it.