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The Politics of Natural Disasters

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posted on Dec, 31 2004 @ 02:49 PM
Some of the points brought up in OOPS' locked thread were raised in an abrasive manner so that no one looked at it objectively. Let's re-examine that.

This tsunami, while being an awful catastrophe is hardly an unprecedented event. In 1970 a cyclone hit Bangladesh and killed upwards of half a million people. In that same nation in 1991 a cyclone killed 130,000 people. In 1976 an Earthquake killed 600 thousand in China. In just the last 50 years natural disasters have killed tens of thousands of people at once many, many times. Including several incidents in just the last decade or so.

So that does beg the question, why is this so different that it gets mass media attention to the extent it has? I'm sure Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations in the world got only a fraction of the aid going to this area, and very few probably even recall that 1991 event, even though the death toll was similar. As Peter Worthington writes in the Toronto Sun: "The Boxing Day tsunami catastrophe may well be the worst natural disaster in human history." This event has been etched into human history while the plight of the Bangladeshi's was barely recognized when it happened. Twice.

Highly Politicized

Just a quick glance at a few of the threads going on about disaster aid tells how politicized this has become. Yesterday on crossfire was a Republican Congressman from Virginia stating that this is a great chance to show compassionate conservatism. Republicans here are using it as an example of the Presidents compassion. People that don't like the President are finding a way to fit Iraq war rhetoric into the midst. Non-Americans are using this as an example to say Americans are greedy. Americans are using it as an example to show how generous we are. Oddly enough - Americans and non-Americans are coming to opposite conclusions using the same numbers. Go figure. And lost in all this sniping is the fact that Jet Li hurt his foot.

Media Coverage

While seeing pictures of desolate natives, the majority of TV news stories have been about Westerners and celebrities. I have seen one report about a native Indonesian that lost her entire family in the tragedy, that's the only "local" that I've seen reported on. I'm sure there have been a few others, but I've seen Petra Nemacova a disproportionate amount of times. And really, who the hell is Petra Nemacova? To say that the effect on Westerners had nothing to do with the coverage of this is to deny a lot of evidence to the contrary.


While not lessening the tears shed by anyone about this matter, and not lessening the outpouring of generosity, this tragedy was undoubtedly magnified in the worlds eye by the Westerners effected and the politicization of the aid "coalition" and monetary donations. This area is quickly becoming the tug-of-war rope of the world...except when we get bored of it we can walk a way, the inhabitants will just have a muddy, forgotten hole.

posted on Dec, 31 2004 @ 03:12 PM
Hmm. I am surprised actually, PP, that you are seeing so many "slanted" stories on this. I for one have not experienced this, with the exception of one particular CNN story. I think Banshee or Val may be in a better position to comment on this, seeing as they were extremely active on the coverage from the beginning. I'd be curious to see if they feel the same way you do about it, on an overall look at it.

The stories I have seen have varied widely, with some concentrating on the death toll, others concerned with photos and video, and still others concerned with places to contribute. Others concentrated on individual and survivor perspectives. But most of them IMO covered all of it. And this is all off ATS.

00PS's thread was just over the top, and while there may be some hint of what you are saying, on the overall, I just can't agree. This affected way too many countries, for one. And I think there were some valid arguments presented in the other threads, as to why this has received more attention. Increased proliferation of the internet and media is also, IMO, another reason. Way more people were made aware, much faster and with much greater coverage, in more accessible places than previous disasters. If another great disaster such as this happens in our lifetimes, I believe we are likely to see similar coverage, as long as it happens in accessible areas.

posted on Dec, 31 2004 @ 09:17 PM
Howdy folks...


I think it is because the world didn't have the tech at the time ( e.g.: no internet in the '70's, cell phones ect, although the internet was in it's infancy in the '90's, it wasn't what it is today, to report the news, as we see it today...), to report these disasters, and I do remember what happened in Bangladesh, and I also remember that the reports were slow in showing up...

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