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How To Help

This Command Post post offers some suggestions on how you can help the victims of the earthquake/tsunami event earlier today. At any rate, this struck me as approximately the Worst Thing Ever, but looking at this list of horrors, including a tsunami in Bangladesh in just 1991 that killed 138,000 people, I see that things have actually been much, much worse. This may be a good time to mention the asteroid problem. I'd just as soon not find out what happens when 1979 XB slams into the planet earth.

UPDATE: More on how to help from City Comforts.

December 27, 2004 | Permalink

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» EARTHQUAKE DIPLOMACY from Begging To Differ
The earthquake in Indonesia is being reported as the fourth largest in recorded history, and (at the time I'm writing this) the quake and resulting tsunamis have claimed over 11,000 lives (with many more missing) in five countries: Sri Lanka,... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 27, 2004 2:31:31 AM

» How To Help victims of the earthquake tsunami from Can I Get A What What
Link: Matthew Yglesias: How To Help. Help victims of the earthquake/tsunami. [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 27, 2004 4:22:31 AM

» Walls of Water, II: Recap, How To Help, Preventabl from Saheli*: Musings and Observations
I'm just going to list relief links directly, and I will update this list as I find out more. . . . I have to say that I'm really glad that a policy wonk like Matt, who rakes in a lot of regular readers, is willing to step outside his subject matter,... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 27, 2004 6:53:59 AM

» Tsunami from The Agitator
I haven't commented because, frankly, I don't have much to say. It's horrible. Command Post, however, has some useful information... [Read More]

Tracked on Dec 27, 2004 9:41:14 AM

Comments

"At any rate, this struck me as approximately the Worst Thing Ever, but looking at this list of horrors, including a tsunami in Bangladesh in just 1991 that killed 138,000 people, I see that things have actually been much, much worse."

I find it pretty difficult to get worked up about things that are purely Acts of God. Sure it's a tragedy when anything bad happens to anyone, but I try to conserve my attention for things we can actually affect.

In other words, 13,000 earthquake dead is unpleasant, but 100,000 low income students denied higher education because the GOP doesn't want to fund Pell Grants is criminal.

---

And in unrelated news, while The Wire is on hiatus, HBO seems to be replacing it with some new show about suburban mobsters. It seems kinda interesting.

Posted by: Petey | Dec 27, 2004 12:54:59 AM

I'd just as soon not find out what happens when 1979 XB slams into the planet earth.

You're out of date Matthew. The ones you want to worry about are 2004 MN4 (for impact likelihood - 44 potential impacts starting in 2029) and 2004 VD17 (14 possible impacts starting in 2062 but at 18.22 km/s V^infinity with a diametre of .58 km).

That is, smaller and slower by comparatively likely to hit versus big and fast.

ash
['More likely to lose if you roll the dice more often.']

Posted by: ash | Dec 27, 2004 1:11:48 AM

God seems to act more brutally in poor countries than in rich countries.

Speaking of disasters, according to UNAIDS, there were an estimated 2.3 million deaths due to AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa during 2004:

http://www.unaids.org/wad2004/report.html

That's 6300 deaths a day - a year's worth of daily tsunamis.

Posted by: Dan Kervick | Dec 27, 2004 1:23:03 AM

Isn't this precious.

"But none of the most affected countries had warning systems in place to detect the coming onslaught and alert their citizens to move away from the coastline." http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/27/international/asia/27quake.html?ex=1261803600&en=848aaa8fcf005ddf&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

I wonder whether a couple of the IRIS Global Seismographic Network duty officers could have picked up a telephone and made a couple of calls. Maybe even deployed that new fangled Internet thingy.

Posted by: Ellen1910 | Dec 27, 2004 1:46:15 AM

Ellen1910,

Instead of attacking first and "wondering" later, why not find out first. A report on Canadian TV (sorry, no link) specifically mentioned that scientists in India had immediate notice of the earthquake and were aware of the potential (tsunami) consequences, but that while authorities were notified, their resultant warnings went largely unheeded at the local level (poor fishermen are more likely to be out on their boats than watching TV news channels). But, of course, a snarky blog comment is more satisfying, isn't it?

Posted by: Jim | Dec 27, 2004 2:07:56 AM

Ellen1910,

Instead of attacking first and "wondering" later, why not find out first. A report on Canadian TV (sorry, no link) specifically mentioned that scientists in India had immediate notice of the earthquake and were aware of the potential (tsunami) consequences, but that while authorities were notified, their resultant warnings went largely unheeded at the local level (poor fishermen are more likely to be out on their boats than watching TV news channels). But, of course, a snarky blog comment is more satisfying, isn't it?

Posted by: Jim | Dec 27, 2004 2:07:56 AM

Um, Jim according to the various newspaper articles, the tip of India at 4 hours notice, which should have been plenty of time to warn the local seaside communities but all of the surviving victims, few of them fisherman, reported any warnings. Very sad that this wasn't done. Of course, easier for you to launch a snarky blog comment, then think about what you post.

Posted by: jerry | Dec 27, 2004 2:13:27 AM

In other words, 13,000 earthquake dead is unpleasant

I'm normally never rude, and I'm sorry Matt for being rude now, but a hearty fuck you goes out to Petey for that remark. It's not "unpleasant", it's a fucking catastrophe. And if such a thing doesn't move you in the least, don't fucking comment please. You'd be better off wondering what's wrong with you.

Posted by: A | Dec 27, 2004 2:26:17 AM

Jerry,

If you bothered to follow the thread and read Ellen's original complaint, you'll see that Jim rebutted it quite well.

Personally, I always wonder why folks with limited reading comprehension skills bother with blogs in the first place.

Posted by: Petey | Dec 27, 2004 2:29:39 AM

". . . including a tsunami in Bangladesh in just 1991 that killed 138,000 people . . ."

That was a cyclone, wasn't it?

Posted by: Ellen1910 | Dec 27, 2004 2:31:02 AM

"a hearty fuck you goes out to Petey for that remark. It's not "unpleasant", it's a fucking catastrophe."

And a hearty fuck you goes right back at ya.

Blind moral rectitude separated from basic intelligence is the root cause of many of the world's problems.

Posted by: Petey | Dec 27, 2004 2:38:59 AM

Petey,

1. Citing unnamed Canadian TV stations is never a rebuttal to anything.

2. And why point to "poor fishermen" who wouldn't have been affected by the tsunami if they were at sea and if they weren't, could have been warned off the beaches by the local constabulary?

Posted by: Ellen1910 | Dec 27, 2004 2:39:03 AM

Jerry,

My post was based on the facts as I have read and heard them. Which are that scientists in India did pass on their warnings to pertinent officials (the point of Ellen's snarky comment). How are (presumably western) "IRIS Global Seismographic Networks duty officers" to blame if the warnings never got through? Oh, I get it, (per Ellen1910), they should have "deployed that new fangled Internet thingy."

Posted by: Jim | Dec 27, 2004 2:39:26 AM

Jim,

Could you tell us what those well-known "pertinent officials" (would that be sort of like "unnamed sources"?) did after they'd received the "warnings"?

Oh, yes! And do you think they called Colombo and Dhaka?

Posted by: Ellen1910 | Dec 27, 2004 2:50:35 AM

I hope you people are being so snarky and rude to each other and Matt because you are made cranky by this awful day and not because you are always that self-involved.

Plaudits to Matt to taking notice and saying talking about this, and giving publicity to aid work, even though it's not remotely his field of expertise, and no one could reasonably expect him to. No, it's not the only horrible thing going on in the world, but it's something bad, and and people have to care about something and do something when they are moved to do so. Sniping about which tragedies we have to pick and choose is just counterproductive and childish.

Posted by: Saheli | Dec 27, 2004 2:53:55 AM

Could you tell us what those well-known "pertinent officials" (would that be sort of like "unnamed sources"?) did after they'd received the "warnings"?

Um, Ellen, why don't you try that "new fangled Internet thingy" and read a bit? Here's a start:

With No Alert System, Indian Ocean Nations Were Vulnerable

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/27/science/27science.html

But, of course, we all know who is really to blame: callous and indifferent westerners.

Posted by: Jim | Dec 27, 2004 3:07:42 AM

Saheli, don't even bother. This A-hole yawping about "basic intelligence" is exactly the kind of *&^%$#%$ who'd say to a 5 year old kid "Aww, it's unpleasant that your mom just died of breast cancer, but it's an Act of God. You should try to conserve your energy for things you can really affect".

Just makes me sick. I'm now just removing myself from this conversation because it's complete unproductive and scum like this simply upset me more.

Posted by: A | Dec 27, 2004 3:07:49 AM

"Bangladesh, 30 April 1991. A typhoon whipped up an eight-metre storm surge which hit the city of Chittagong after midnight, leaving 10 million people homeless, some 200,000 dead and 139,000 injured."
http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:XcrTaF8mDTQJ:www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1310/is_1997_Oct/ai_20150224+bangladesh+tsunami+1991&hl=en

A storm surge, not a tsunami. Had it been a tsunami, maybe there would have been a proper warning system in place or at least some awareness about the dangers of a 9.0 seafloor earthquake.
"We knew something would be hitting us" (Dr R S Dattatrayam, director (seismology) at India Meteorological Department) should have been motivation enough to issue a warning.
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/971639.cms

Posted by: Andrew | Dec 27, 2004 3:17:47 AM

And, oh, Jerry, further to your "few of them fisherman" comment, here's a sentence from the NY Times article cited by Ellen:

Whole fishing villages were washed away along coastlines, and thousands of fisherman who unknowingly put out to sea in the morning are missing.

Posted by: Jim | Dec 27, 2004 3:18:15 AM

"There's no reason for a single individual to get killed in a tsunami," Dr. Murty said. "The waves are totally predictable. We have travel-time charts covering all of the Indian Ocean. From where this earthquake happened to hit, the travel time for waves to hit the tip of India was four hours. That's enough time for a warning."

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/27/science/27science.html?ex=1261890000&en=c3ced547a2d2b04b&ei=5090&partner=rssuserland

Posted by: Ellen1910 | Dec 27, 2004 3:40:12 AM

Very good, Ellen; that's a start. Now just remind us whom to blame.

Posted by: Jim | Dec 27, 2004 3:59:15 AM

Sheesh. If y'all are done sniping at each other, I have tried to make a more expanded list of how one can help.

Thank you very much for the initial pointer, Matt!!

Posted by: Saheli | Dec 27, 2004 6:56:32 AM

"Asteroid problem" -- or pretext to thow away big money on a glamor project for the engineering establishment? It isn't as if they are entitled to one, when they should be employed on grubbier work like solar power.

Posted by: Dabodius | Dec 27, 2004 7:04:50 AM

Dabodius: one problem is not exclusive or contradictory to another. There are plenty of engineers and physicists who would LOVE to work on solar power if there was more funding in it.

Posted by: Saheli | Dec 27, 2004 7:43:33 AM

It is good to remind ourselves that most of these human losses were preventable.

The important point is that there was no warning system in place. Such a system requires some public education, training of officials at regional and local levels, evacuation plans, publicly reported drills, and even things as simple as phone trees worked out in advance. There in fact was en effort under way to study, plan and implement an Indian Ocean system, but unfortunately the tsunami hit before the system was in place.

Of course, a tsunami warning system would be just one of thousands of human needs in the region, many of them no doubt judged to be more pressing. I suppose reporters will let us know in the next few days whether slowness in implementing such a plan in the Indian Ocean region, as compared to some similarly endangered regions in the world, was due to lack of funding, lack of urgency, foor-dragging or ineptitude - or whether it is simply a result of nature moving faster than the reasonably-paced actions of government.

Posted by: Dan Kervick | Dec 27, 2004 8:31:02 AM

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