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The Forum > Article Comments > Is the Asian Tsunami an omen of things to come? > Comments

Is the Asian Tsunami an omen of things to come? : Comments

By Peter McMahon, published 4/1/2005

Peter McMahon says that the consequences of the Indian Ocean Tsunami are similar to what we can expect from global warming.

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Peter, this article and your opinion on the tsunami event and it's consequences is much appreciated. I was appalled recently to read in a newspaper that some religious leaders have suggested the tsunami and it's catastrophic results are a judgement from God on us for some sort of misbehaviour. What absolute nonsense! I do not believe in any kind of god or religion that could be so insane.

What does make sense to me is that we as custodians of just one planet in Universe have a responsibility to do all we can to act responsibly about matters within our control. If we are not caring adequately for our planet home we must adjust our behaviour.

Thanks for helping me make more sense of what has happened than anyone else I have read lately.

Posted by MB, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 1:26:49 PM
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In responding to your article Peter, I have a great need to express my opinion on the selective media coverage surrounding the Asian Tsunami.

I to, have found that the free to air commercial TV coverage has targeted the impact to western lifestyles and disgarded the rest of humanity. Imagine my discuss at then seeing a stations self advertising promotion using images of what should not be sensationalised, that is how brilliantly they are covering the latest news with repeat images. I ask you should there really be a need, or the option, of sensationalising to the point of desensitisation of what is the one most significant atrocity that demands universal cohesion and genuine compassion. I mean, is this not massive enough without having to go that extra tweak, a test to quality ethical reporting skills I would imagine. Their complete disregard for ethics, human life and loss appalls me.

To support this sensationalisation let me tell you what I saw on another news coverage from non-commercial stations that has not even been touched by the commercial ones. The story was about a group of survivors who were found on an Indonesian island 6 days after being devastated, they were the last of the islands residents yet not a word of this was put to air on the commercial station. I felt such deep pain for these survivors when cameramen captured, with empathy, the look on their faces when coming down river to realise, for the first time, the greater extent of what has occurred, that first time vision of the world past their point of initial survival.

Sadly, what this shows to me is that modernity will always have views of ethnocentrism, for not even this devastation has genuinely created a need to change how one processes and represents reality to the masses via the all consuming mass media.
Posted by viewpoint, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 1:52:00 PM
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Outstanding article Peter. I agree with you on the issue where funds would have to come from. I'd like to throw out a suggestion on where exactly in the West most, if not all, of the funds should be given from. Where is big business in all of this? Did I not just see an article that exclaimed how well all the businesses did this holiday season? Does the average person see any general improvement of life because of this? I severely doubt it. Inflation is an ever increasing problem, but for what reason, I ask? Employees continue to be paid less, so where does all this extra money go? It is painfully obvious whos pockets it has fallen into.

As an example of some of the horrible things done by large companies, look what happens to a poor mother taking food for her starving family.. Verily, it is unlawful, although with such a large stockpile of money I personally would be predisposed to look the other way. Especially if it's only effect on me is one as unimportant and greedy as not being able to some undoubtably unnecessary material item in a most likely high scale house.

Getting back to my point, it is a personal belief of mine that if our world's largest companies, with more actual money than our own Government, should be paying the bills and helping out with this our most grievious of recent natural disasters. If they won't help their own nation's people, maybe what happened out there in the Pacific will cause an epiphany of sorts.. If some of the largest corporations could stop bragging about how much money they sucked from people this year, and realize what their success does to everyone else. In the end I can only hope that they will help out the people effected, who need it even more than those poor who live here under their controlling hands.

As a follow up comment I would like to add that we would all be better off should we begin completely ignoring advertising. All it is is psychological pollution. We need to try as a people to ascend above the level of cattle. Don't let these businesses herd you around and milk you every year; Take care of yourselves.

Posted by FNietzche, Tuesday, 4 January 2005 8:15:23 PM
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Read Peter's article and you'd think that the west has paid a passing interest at best in the Asian disaster. Peter demands that the money to aid in this disaster come from the west. Well, that's exactly where it's coming from. US-$350 million, Britain-$95 million, Sweden-$75.5 million, Spain-$68 million, France-$57 million, Australia-$47 million, Canada-$33 million and so on, and there will most probably be more where that came from when it becomes clearer just how much money is really needed. That's only government donations, donations from the public of western countries will probably end up doubling this amount. Your argument is redundant.

Of course every country in the world should do all they can to help ease the suffering and rebuild these peoples lives. It just seems beyond the haters of the west to give any credit where it is due. It's also quite devious to talk about this human disaster in the same breath as global warming, ozone depletion and other environmental concerns in an obvious attempt to link the two in peoples minds. The tsunami would still have happened if the west was poor and impoverished and not causing all those nasty gas problems. Luckily the west is not impoverished or the rebuilding of these regions probably wouldn't happen for many generations if at all.

One other thing. To say that western media " quickly concentrated on the story of the relatively few western victims over that of the multi-thousands of Asians affected." is just the sort of typical west-bashing tripe we've been used to hearing for years. Peter, go and tell that to the families of western victims of this disaster. I mean, these people were only there holidaying, working, seeing family, redistributing their money to countries that no doubt need it. I've heard plenty about ALL victims of the tsunami. Contrary to the belief of some people, westerners love their families too.
Posted by Cranky, Wednesday, 5 January 2005 1:20:49 AM
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I wondered how long it would take someone to link the earthquake/tsunami disaster with global warming? Nice try but clearly they are two entirely different phenomena.

Peter, you should check some of the literature in regards to global warming - a warmer, more uniform temperature will cause less climatic catastrophes such as tornados.

The tsunami which wiped out so many people in South Asia is nobody's fault, least of all holidayers from the west or the governments and companies donating millions of dollars in aid.

It is a tragedy and taking advantage of it by spruiking about global warming is blatant opportunism.

How much money have you donated Peter?
Posted by the usual suspect, Wednesday, 5 January 2005 2:25:46 PM
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Peter's article has boldly made the connection between global warming-style disasters and the devastation of the recent Tsunami. It does not read as though Peter is connecting global warming to the tsunami but rather reminding us that the devastation we have witnessed and will continue to see is a representation of the sort of impact a global-warming disaster has the potential to create. And this is an important point. It is difficult for humanity to comprehend the scenarios associated with global warming. A tsunami, a hurricane, a cyclone, flash floods, etc, are all destructive events that will strike suddenly and impact rapidly and we tend to forget about just as quickly. With the modern media we can witness their impact and respond with immediate relief, providing an outlet for our sense of compassion and desire to assist. Arguably too late. We can blame the unpredictable forces of nature and claim that we could not possibly predict such events as they strike quickly and unexpectedly. We can post our money to the poorest parts of the world - where the greatest impact of such events are felt - and then simply go about our lives waiting for the next unpredictable event to occur.

When presented with early warning signs however that point to the potential for human actions to generate such events - melting ice sheets, shifts in global temperature, climate modelling - we respond with disbelief, inaction and rhetoric to the claim that the two - gradual change and catastrophic events - could possibly be related.

It may seem an appropriate action in the face of such a disaster for developed countries to rebuild the affected communities in the same way that makes them vulnerable to a tsunami, extreme weather or rising sea-levels. But it's about time the developed world started connecting the tangible impacts in the tsunami affected areas to its inaction on climate change. Or this will just be the start of a long line of rescue and re-building efforts that provide short term relief but ignore an underlying time-bomb just waiting to go off.
Posted by Audrey, Wednesday, 5 January 2005 3:23:46 PM
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