It’s pretty near impossible to take it all in. I’ve been following the internet news coverage of the Indian ocean tsunami via the BBC’s web coverage, the Wikipedia article, and various other sources linked off Google News. I’ve no TV, so I’ve not seen very much about it. Some amateur footage is available on the internet, of which I’ve seen one clip. I’m not sure I want to see any more. It’s too upsetting. The number of dead is far too large to really get a grip on what it means, never mind the fact that millions of people are now endangered by secondary effects like disease or lack of drinking water. It’s the stories of individuals that hit home first, when your empathy makes you imagine yourself in their shoes. Trying to multiplying this by the number of individuals simply renders one numb.
Along with adding a new wobble to the Earth’s spin, the quake was large enough to be picked up clearly by the Atlantic ocean’s tsunami early-warning system. The worrying thing is the implication that they knew that a tsunami might well be on the way up to three hours before it hit the coasts, but that they simply did not know who to call. How about CNN, the BBC and Reuters? Also, there’s something unpleasant about the NOAA’s response that I can’t quite put my finger on. A hint of “it’s not our ocean so why worry?” or something. Having said that, they’re only really set up for Atlantic events, e.g. the predicted Atlantic ‘mega’ tsumani, and there are no sea-level monitoring stations in the Indian ocean to confirm the existence of a tsunami as there are in the Atlantic.
Anyways, I don’t know if it will help much, but I donated to the International Red Cross/Crescent. The rapid response to this disaster, not just in terms of national pledges of aid but more importantly the huge number of contributions from individuals, has been very reassuring. I think the IFRC got 7 million Euros of donations from individuals within the first twelve hours. We all want to treat others as we would wish to be treated, if only because we know it might be us next time. Natural disasters don’t pay much attention to cultural, social or economic boundaries.
If you want to help, you can find out how via Google’s tsunami relief page, or Asian disaster: How to help @ the beeb.
One planet and all that. Andy.