It's the Environment, Stupid.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Disaster fatigue

How long will it take for the Indonesian earthquake to fade from the headlines? Long enough to garner enough sympathy dollars to even begin to help with immediate relief efforts? Long enough to get enough support for long term rebuilding?

An area that is still rebuilding after the tsunami of 2004 now faces another challenge in the wake of what might be noted as disaster fatigue. High profile disasters such as the tsunami and New Orleans post-Katrina have perhaps sucked dry the open pockets of concerned citizens across the globe. The earthquake in Pakistan of October 2005, I believe, also suffered from disaster fatigue.

As the frequency of disasters continues to rise, when will the generosity give out? How will we choose which disasters to give money to? The ones with the most devastating pictures on the New York Times front page? The ones that devastate major economic hubs? The ones that affect more white westerners and foreign tourists?

This should be an even greater reason for country and city governments to develop and implement disaster preparedness plans. Foreign aid might be better spent before the fact rather than after the fact - a lesson that could be learned the hard way as we head into what is predicted to be another monster hurricane season, since there's nothing like someone else's disaster to remind us how vulnerable our own areas might be. But how many disasters will it take?


  • Hello, Amy - I'm another Stodghill, something I once thought was a rather distinctive designation. Since the internet came along I've learned otherwise. There must be a million of us. I'm of a much older generation and although I wholeheartedly agree with your views on the environment I've all but given up on people ever doing anything to help solve the many problems. Too many "me first" types around, but keep plugging away at it. Look me up sometime at, but if you do you may put me down as just another nut.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 13:06  

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