Asking the right questions

Posted May 12th, 2008 by Sylvia S Tognetti and filed in Category 5 Spin


So, are cyclones that strike densely populated coastal areas that are losing their wetlands sent by God as punishment for sin? Or are they the consequences of human induced global warming? And did Al Gore really say that? (no) Can the media, get anyone to pay attention to them, or to anything important, without a smoking gun? and will they always find one even if it has to be fabricated? Which, of course, provides a smoking gun for the blogs, this one included.

Or perhaps this all just nonsense, intentionally generated to distract the public from the incapacity and even in some cases unwillingness of some governments to respond to extreme events? Which is the very definition of a disaster and, supposedly, the reason we form governments. And I’m not just talking about Nargis. (For more on Nargis see this NYT article– thankfully, aid does slowly seem to be trickling in, and there are organizations that have somehow managed to have a presence. And this one by Andrew Revkin about the dangers of living in a Delta and why people do it anyway, and lack of preparation.)

The real stories about the so called “climate skeptics, or Katrina or Nargis, are much more complex than a “who dunnit” tale, with many shades, not necessarily all grey. Ben Wisner has written some reflections on attention to disasters, in context of the response to Nargis and other kinds of calamities that are all around us, in which he makes a case for the need to better understand such nuances, if we are to respond more effectively. We can talk about restoring mangroves later.

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