Friday, December 31, 2004

Those who live, learn.

There's no doubt we will learn a lot from this Tsunami disaster (I still think the key lesson is to have a fleet of helicopters at the ready in all regions of the earth for natural disaster relief on the instant, but there are others). Unfortunately from the world's perspective we learn too late and our contributions are more about our emotions than about saving the lives of others. Of course I wouldn't want to dismiss any act of charity, but when the Premiership gets in on the situation you know we've crossed a line from the rational to the showbiz end of things.

It has entered my mind watching the reports that there's very little to be done since almost everybody in need could find their critical needs met by friends or relatives just a few miles inland. Aceh province in Indonesisa is obviously different- but I don't get the sense that we're geared up to provide assistance there yet. We've only just got round to considering the Maldives. Then again, given the disaster in Indonesia, will there be anyone to donate anything to? Precious few, if this kind of report is true (and in this disaster I tend to believe the biggest figures I'm offered) Or will the few survivors be buried under a tidal wave of castoff clothing?

Whatever the truth behind the above musings, I know that Laban Tall is right when he says that 'The Indian Ocean disaster is a heaven sent opportunity for liberal breast-beating into which can be shoehorned the correct views on globalisation'.
I frankly couldn't believe it today when I heard (on Sky) that a British Scientist was saying that the tsunami shows the risk we face from global warming, as if that had anything to do with the price of fish!

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Instinctively Right: Alan Sullivan has been a great source of sanity on the tsunami disaster- partly through his extensive knowledge of the sea and its manifestations. This post from Sunday demonstrates how possible it was to assess the likely impact of the waves at that point: 'I have no doubt a final number will be in tens or even hundreds of thousands'. This post meanwhile provides a great graphic to appreciate the waves in their proper geographical context.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Since Christmas, probably 100,000 people have died in the Indian Ocean. That's my bet anyway (and I realised subsequently I should have put a + sign beside that figure). I've watched quite a bit of coverage on BBCworld, CNN and Sky, and I can say that Sky provided easily the best coverage, with more realistic casualty counts (by which I mean less conservative estimates), more on the ground coverage, and a more direct approach that seemed to use its British-centred perspective to raise more concern than the Beeb et al could muster. Strange though it may seem, I don't regard underestimation of casualties as a sign of a mature, respectable broadcaster. I'd rather call that dereliction.

The Beeb tended to keep its usual schedules, unlike CNN, and certainly lagged way behind Sky in minute-by-minute coverage. Not that I think minute-by-minute casualty counts are all that sensible- it was obvious after a few minutes thought and a little anecdotal evidence that casualties would be massive, so that the best thing would have been panic stations and maximum pressure on inept and lazy Govts from the beginning. Military helicopters on site within hours would have made a huge difference (and yes, I am aware of at least two civil wars ongoing in the region, but I think that the overwhelmingly hostile force out there this last few days was nature).

Part of the Beeb's usual schedules included their so-called Hard Talk programme, which earlier in the festive season included James Rubin interviewing Robin Cook. If I had a schoolboy sense of humour I'd say that it wasn't the talk that was hard, but something that related to the physical makeup of these two mutually admiring men. Robin called Rubin 'Jamie', as the talk just got harder and harder. Robin waxed lyrical about his opposition to the Iraq war, and Jamie helpfully listed in his repetitive drone the many things terribly wrong there. Even Robin appeared momentarily irritated: 'you don't need to convince me how disastrous the Iraq war has been'. Indeed, I thought.

For a different perspective on the tsunami disaster, yet extremely pertinent to the issue of inept and lazy Governments, EU Referendum blog is following a different, political disaster:

'while it may not leave piles of bloated corpses on exotic beaches, the death and destruction, in terms of poverty and the concomitant disease and ill-health is every bit as real.'

Meanwhile Norm is doing a good job of looking at aspects of the disaster.

Also meanwhile, and far below the kinds of huge concern that ought to be occupying our thoughts at this time, I'd like to echo Terence Coyle in thanking Mr Boyles for his kind words about my blog.

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