Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Want an easy way to donate to relief efforts in the aftermath of the South Asia Earthquake/Tsunami?

Amazon has set up a 1-Click way to donate to the American Red Cross.
Donate here

I also read in The Wall Street Journal [you can only read the article with a subscription, so there's not much point to linking it specifically, but try your library if you're not a subscriber] this morning an article explaining some of the limitations that caused warnings to either not arrive in time or languish in bureaucracies. I'd forgotten that it being Sunday, so many government offices would be closed. (Hey, I'm Pagan, I don't think of it as any different than another day, except that it is a weekend.)

I can understand some of the mess. Bureaucracy, weekend hours, difficulty interpreting data (for example, the Pacific Tsunami authorities released a bulletin actually saying that based on historical information, a tsunami seemed unlikely...but that was when they thought the earthquake was much lower on the Richter, and it took awhile to realise the scope). But the one I find more troubling is 'well, we knew about it, but we didn't want to overstep diplomatic protocol' by telling other countries. Diplomatic protocol be damned when people are innocently going about their lives and the potential for a huge tidal wave is imminent.

Okay, obviously I'm of the 'why can't we all work together' camp. But we live in a global society with dangers that impact all of us, whether terrorism, natural disasters, disease, nuclear war, etc. The UN does have its problems, but it's what we have in terms of international cooperation, and it should be used to the greatest degree possible to make life better for everyone. There are so many suborganisations of the UN...is there one for coordinating international disasters? I don't know.

Meanwhile, the help is pouring in, thankfully, and not just money, goods, and people. One of the biggest problems is how to figure out just where the need is greatest, for example. Taiwan's space agency, which usually charges several thousand dollars per satellite picture, has offered to provide free photos of the area affected to better determine the changes wrought by the tsunami and which places were hardest hit. Because only 26 countries formally recognise Taiwan as separate from China, the decision was made to post the pictures to a website so they could be used regardless of what diplomatic ties affected countries had with the island nation. Go, Taiwan!

No comments: