Tag: priorities

Tornadoes, Missouri, and perspective

I'm watching the Rachel Maddow Show right now, 9:41, May 23, EST. She just issued a call for help for the tornado victims in Missouri. Of course I'll chip in to help! Sheesh! Who wouldn't, if she or he were able? Book that ... but read on.

Start by considering any of the real-time online maps showing severe weather conditions. Example? Accuweather. (No particular endorsement, just an exemplar.) http://www.accuweather.com/severe-weather.asp This particular map is restricted to the U.S., but similar maps show conditions for the entire world. Think about it.

Severe weather "events" (as they're officially designated) occur every minute of every day, somewhere on the planet. Many simultaneously. Same with earthquakes, floods, etc. Who decides which is severe enough to justify appeals for help on network TV? On what basis is the decision made? Has anyone ever articulated the principles determining which people, where, victimized by which "event," with what human and economic cost, etc. should be made the focus of media coverage in the U.S., and of media fundraising?

It seems likely that hundreds of persons will have been killed in Missouri. That's terrible. Still, not long ago tens of thousands - probably hundreds of thousands - of persons were killed by the floods in Pakistan. That's so far beyond terrible as to be beyond my ability to express it. (Suggestions more than welcome.)

∞ ∞ ∞ ∞ ∞

Think about this, though. I've been talking about how we decide which effects deserve focus and private financial support. But who says we have to blinder ourselves in such a way as to think only about effects and never about causes?

Let's dip our noggins in ice water, and emerge with a new perspective. Let's think about causes rather than effects. What's causing the record levels of severe weather? Doesn't it make more sense to deal with the hydra's head than to keep jumping hither and yon in trying to deal with its geometrically multiplying tentacles?

My suggestion? We have to deal with global warming. Period. Local, national, regional advantage might be subject to conflict and negotiation. But the survival of homo sapiens depends on our dealing with global warming.

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