Sunday, January 02, 2005

Mother Nature, Father Power

TalkLeft got creamed for picking up on these comparisons:

  • Number of deaths due to four Florida hurricanes in 2004: 117
  • Number of deaths due to Aceh earthquake and tsunami in 2004: 120,000+
  • Homeless due to Florida hurricanes: 11,000
  • Homeless due to Aceh earthquake/tsunami: 5,000,000
  • US government aid to help Florida hurricane victims: $2.04 billion
  • US government aid to help Aceh earthquake/tsunami victims: $35 million [later increased to $350 million]
  • Estimated cost of George Bush's upcoming inaguration celebration, not including security costs: $40 million
  • US government direct cost, per hour, of the US war in Iraq: $9 million
Yet it's the same point Dr. Paul Farmer made when he compared the 2,000+ deaths in Haiti from Hurricane Jeanne to the six in Florida.

It's the same point made in prophetic detail by scientists quoted in the New York Times today:

"We're at a period in Earth's history where we're living on an edge where things can go terribly wrong if we're not attentive," Dr. Sachs [director of Columbia University's Earth Institute] said. "But we also have magnificent knowledge and technologies that could make the outcomes far better than they are now."

The tsunami assault, he said, could be a call to action. But he and Dr. Seih [Cal Tech seismologist] agreed that it could also end up just another in a series of distant disasters, a disturbing distraction for the world's more fortunate nations.

These pictures from U.S. spy satellites reduce the distance a little.

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