Showing posts with label natural catastrophes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label natural catastrophes. Show all posts

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Natural catastrophes over the last year

A few days ago, Channel 2 of the national French TV system aired an awesome program on natural catastrophes that have taken place all over the planet during the last twelve months. The splendid documentary by David Korn-Brzoza was based upon a simple but brilliant idea. He presented with few comments, month by month, the most spectacular and deadly catastrophes of the year 2010.

In some cases, such as the earthquake in Haïti, we remember above all the huge death toll.

In other cases, such as the Icelandic volcano whose smoke blocked international air traffic, we recall extraordinary images and an exotic geographical name that few people could pronounce.

In one case—the fires in Russia—the catastrophe concerned such a vast territory that nobody knew how to handle it. The same could be said in the case of the explosion of an oil platform off the US coast. If the year had not ended already, the great flooding in Queensland would have surely deserved a spot in this tragic documentary.

In the context of this kind of movie, scriptwriters are wont to get carried away with the poetic theme of the colossal inhuman forces wielded by our planet Earth, in the face of which we remain almost powerless. In the Korn-Brzoza documentary, fortunately, there was no insipid poetry, but rather a constant series of questions concerning the alarming hypothesis that global warming caused by human activities might be largely responsible for much of this suffering and terror. I find it appalling that certain bone-headed observers (often calling themselves "professors" of this or that) persist in rejecting this hypothesis.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Can we talk of anything else?

The latest news from Haïti evokes a third of a million homeless and starving. At the present moment, in our smart little blogs, can we talk of anything else?

Is there anything else to talk about, at this instant in 21st-century time, when countless human sisters and brothers are lingering over there in Haïti, in destitution, pain, hunger and appalling helplessness?

A news item that shocked me greatly mentioned local people using human corpses to build barricades against an unidentified enemy.

I have a terrible feeling that we Westerners are living comfortably through a period comparable to the time when Hitler was burning masses of human bodies just down the road, and refined neighbors carried on talking about nice things to avoid admitting that their delicate nostrils detected the stench, or that their delicate minds detected unspeakable evil.

The only way out of this calamity will consist of taking that entire land under the guardianship of certain wealthy nations. But which countries will in fact be prepared to assume this role? And under the guidance of what authority? Needless to say, these future would-be tutors must not be mere scavengers, gourmands of Caribbean carrion.

Meanwhile, as I said: Can we indeed talk decently of anything else?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Caribbean tragedy

My humble Antipodes blog can do nothing, of course, to alleviate the suffering of the survivors of the Haïti tragedy. Besides, the purpose of such a blog is not to attempt to solve problems of any kind whatsoever, but merely to engage in the apparently futile preoccupation of recording one's fuzzy impressions of what seems to be happening in the Cosmos, both at home and afar. And what has happened in Haïti is a huge tragedy that is making a profound emotional impact—through contemporary communications channels, including the Internet—upon observers throughout the planet. An emotional impact is one thing, though, but we remain frustrated through our incapacity to be anything more than passive observers. TV spectators in many nations, seeing images of aircraft arriving at Port-au-Prince (landing under manual control, since the airport's infrastructure no longer exists), admire surely the decisions of their respective governments to fly in aid and professional helpers. Meanwhile, the situation evokes a single impression: confusion.

It is the inevitable confusion of a nation whose thinking and everyday actions have never been geared to handling predicaments of any human kind, let alone natural catastrophes. It is frightening to learn, on this evening's TV news, that one of the countless buildings destroyed by the earthquake was the central prison, and that all its former inmates are henceforth roaming the stricken countryside. In fact, even before the news about these escapees, nations flying in aid have been obliged to envisage comprehensive security systems to protect their operations and their operators. Already, in news reports, the terrible theme of looting has appeared.

We imagine naively that Man can generally collaborate with Nature, more or less, for the betterment of human society. But the situation becomes terribly tough when the enemy is suddenly both unleashed Nature and criminal Man. For once, global warming brought about by human industry is totally innocent.