Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Hurricane Perspective

Mikaela says:
The recent hurricane in Lousisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama is being called the worst disaster to ever hit the U.S. It's being compared to Hurrican Andrew, which hit Florida and cost upwards of $10 billion in insurance payouts. Adjusted for inflation, that's about $21 billion in today's dollars. This one is set to ... well ... blow that away.

The governor of Mississippi went on the news and said the damage was "unimaginable."

The liberal media, Democracy Now first and foremost, is doing a good job pointing out the correlation among this hurricane, the steadily intensifying power and frequency of tropical storms, and global warming.

The only comparison I haven't heard yet, much to my surprise and political chagrine, is to the devastation of December's tsunami in Asia. CNN made the comparison, which I only caught second-hand off the web. Maybe the comparison hasn't come up because it's such a bad one. We're talking here about 100s of deaths, maybe more in the upcoming weeks from lack of water and disease. Sri Lanka lost 21,000 people instantly, and hundreds more every day after.

But how can the governor of Mississippi say the damage is "unimaginable" when we all saw much worse devastation not even a year ago? Oh, right. That was another country. That was them. This is now.

[Update: LA Times ran a story I just with the link from the first page calling it, ahem, "This is Our Tsunami" They reported the Mississippi governor likening the devastation to Hiroshima. I don't know what to make of that one.]

And did we even really see that devastation? How many pictures were there? How much coverage, really? I'd guess about as much as we're going to see in the very first days of OUR American tragedy.

I'm not saying that what has befallen us is not worth reporting or that it isn't truly devastating. It is. It's horrible, especially for the region's poor, sick, elderly, and youth, who disproportionately will feel the impact in the coming weeks and years (Democracy Now did a good job yesterday talking about the toxic sludge that the delta will become now that all those chemical plants will be literally sitting in their own waste and leaching it to surrounding communities -- mostly black and poor, go figure. Talk about environmental justice!).

I'm just admonishing us to keep a global perspective (we're all about globalism, aren't we? Until tragedy strikes US!) and remember that what has happened here is part and parcel of what's happening to the rest of the world. There's a common tie, a common problem, and a common solution. We should look very close to home for someone to blame.

Strange that we can be so inwardly focused and still be blind to our own participation in the climate-changing effects of our industry that has made us so very very rich.

A doubleblind double-bind. Charming. Double double, toil and ... what's that next line again?