Day in and day out, this cartoon of a poor African kid getting hit by a tsunami of drought is among the most popular posts on this blog, and one of the most popular cartoon images on the web. I think the cartoonist Alberto Sabat was trying to make a point, that kids in SubSaharan Africa were (are) being clobbered by a disaster as great as the great tsunami that hit the Indian Ocean after Christmas 2005.
In other words, there were other disasters, other victims, and we ignore them.
If Al Gore had a lot of media clout and enjoyed bias from media in his favor, you’d hear about a great storm ready to smash one of the poorest, lowest countries on the planet, where recent increases in povery-struck populations has put millions of people in a great river’s delta, in a most dangerous place to be in a cyclone. But you’re not hearing the story.
If our news media were biased to the liberal side, a story about such a pending disaster would be on the front page of every liberal newspaper, and leading every liberal television news broadcast.
If our private charity groups were groveling to the climate change Cassandras, they’d be begging for money to evacuate people from the path of a category 5 cyclone, now.
If Katrina’s aftermath alerted us to the dangers of powerful storms hitting areas of great poverty, we’d be glued to our television sets if there were another such drama unfolding anywhere on Earth.
If the Bush administration were concerned about preventing the growth of al Quaeda and similar movements, it would be doing what it could to help out a nominally friendly government of an Islamic nation in the path of a great storm.
The photos are spectacular. The news is . . . eerily quiet.
This is Cyclone Sidr. It’s a category 5, and it keeps defying predictions that it will weaken as it moves north, oddly acting as if it has targeted the low river delta regions of Bengla Desh. Chris Mooney calls it “beautiful but deadly.” P. Z. Myers raises an alarm about our ignorance of the storm. More details from Mooney. Lamentations from Mooney’s co-blogger Kirshenbaum (are they playing the role of Jeremiah or Cassandra? Rather depends on your reaction, no?)
Do any high school geography, world history, government or economics courses still do current events? Here’s the raw material for a good, consciousness-raising warm-up. Prelude to a disaster, we hope not. The lack of news coverage is disturbing.
- Bloomberg news story, morning of November 15, 2007
- Grist’s story
- RTT News story: “In 1970, some half a million people died when a cyclone hit the impoverished country, while an estimated 138,000 people died as a result of a cyclonic tidal wave in 1991.”
- ExpressIndia.com, evacuations are occurring
Horrible thought: Is the dearth of reaction partly because broadcasters don’t know how to pronounce the name of the storm?