Thursday, December 30, 2004

Blogs Are My Newspaper, Part II

Ariel Gore wrote this appalled and disturbing reflection on the tsunamis in Asia. RedHeadDread posted the link. I read it, and now am even more appalled than before, and grateful for the chance to read it. I hope you'll read it, too, and maybe send some support here.

We will now return to Travels In Booland's regularly scheduled mishmash of cute-kid stories, autobiographical snippets, and paeans to unattainable food items.

That is, we'll return there as soon as I finish packing for my own return to the Great Northwest.


Blogger Carrie said...

According to Reuters, the NOAA officials called the US embassies in the countries they thought would be affected, including India. They had once hour before the waves hit Thailand and Malaysia, and an hour and fifteen minutes before they hit Sri Lanka. They didn't have a way to distribute this warning to the general population because there is no kind of warning system in place. For crying out loud, we do and still people get flattened by tornados they didn't know where coming. And because these countries didn't have monitoring systems, the scientists couldn't get anything but the most general information about what was happening with the waves in those countries. Indonesia *was* warned by bulletin, but they apparently had no mechanism or time to get the warning out to Sumatra. This region has large tsunamis once every 700 years, so the countries in question gambled. I read somewhere else, I can't remember where, that they had been encouraged by the US and Australia to be a part of the warning system in the past.

I worked in emergency services in the US, and I can tell you getting word out to the appropriate people here when there is something big going on is not a matter of pushing a button and alerting everyone that needs to hear. We had a big pileup on the interstate last winter on the edge of town. Even with the most advanced communications systems around, it still took a lot of time to know what was going on, to know what info was needed, and to call out the appropriate people. I can't imagine the chore in places like Indonesia or India. Organizing a warning in these countries, some of which have areas that are experiencing rebel insurgencies, isn't the same as being able to call family and friends overseas, not by a longshot. It takes a lot more planning and infrastructure than most people know.

I think there is blame to be laid, but not nearly as much on the US as Ariel's post implies. These are scientists, after all, not GOP legislators, and by all news accounts I read they tried their damndest to let people know what was about to happen. What is more interesting to me is that private donations have now outstripped the official aid offered by our government.

This rant is directed at Ariel, not at you, btw. You're great :-)

8:21 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

There is an article on what did and didn't happen in regard to the warnings at the New York Times website today. It is more clear than the Reuters article I read, with some different details. But the main thing was, they tried to warn people, but they didn't know right away themselves that it would be so bad, and they had no way to do it. It would have taken more than a few simple phone calls, but at least some lives would have been saved.

10:28 AM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Thanks for the info, Carrie. It sounds like you know whereof you speak. And no, I didn't think the rant was directed at me.

This is one reason I don't usually post about politics or news except as it affects me personally--there are only a few issues I feel really informed about; when it comes to anything else, I just generally believe the last person I talked to or the last thing I read. I respect people who take the effort to stay better-informed, but I'm not them.

8:03 AM  

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