Here is a story that is coming out in Newsweek International. If you don't find this sobering, it will at least help in the numbing.
The Last Word: Preparing for The Worst
By Mac Margolis
Oct. 31, 2005 issue
On Oct. 12, the United Nations' official day of Disaster Preparedness, scholars from the U.N. University's campus in Bonn issued an appropriately gloomy statement.
If nothing is done to cushion the blow of natural disasters, they declared, by 2010 some 50 million people around the world could be driven from their homes annually.
Not long ago, such dire predictions might have been written off as just another warning from the usual Cassandras. But considering the devastation caused by the recent earthquake in Pakistan, Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and the Asian tsunami, people are starting to take note.
Janos Bogardi, director of the U.N. University's Institute for the Environment and Human Security, spoke with NEWSWEEK's Mac Margolis about the mounting toll of natural disasters and what the world needs to know in order to cope.
Are natural disasters getting worse?
BOGARDI: There are absolutely clear signs and compelling statistics showing the situation is getting worse. We now are experiencing 2.5 to 3 times as many extreme events of climatic or water-related emergencies per year as we did in the 1970s. At the same time annual economic losses [from disasters] have increased sixfold.
How many people are displaced by environmental emergencies every year?
The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees puts the number at 19.2 million people a year.
Why is this happening now?
Climate change certainly plays an important role. That leads to extremes at both ends of the spectrum. We have more floods, more droughts, longer heat spells without rain and more storms. But we also have increasingly unsustainable land use. With increasing deforestation there is a much higher rate of rain runoff, leading to floods and landslides.
How can world governments cope with the 50 million refugees expected by 2010?
We need to start by deciding who they are and what their plight is. Some mechanisms are already in place. We are aware that climate change is a threat, and an intergovernmental panel on climate change is working on strategies and response. Similar mechanisms are needed for the victims of so-called creeping disasters, those displaced by land degradation.
How well is the world prepared to deal with the next calamity?
Scientific communities all over the world are working on strategies. But of course, scientific wisdom alone is not enough. It has to be followed up with forceful political decision and public-awareness campaigns."
Today's big story will be Cheney.
He knew who Valerie Plame was.
But he didn't know Joe Wilson.
No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular...And Joe Wilson—I don’t know who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.
And the other big story will be the death of our 2000th soldier,
Even though our side has lost almost 2200.
And we either won't or can't count the death on the other side.
All the while, Cancun is practically destroyed.
And the Earth is angry.
The earth is angry. Mankind persists in ignoring the messages.
October 24, 2005
The startling image of a man paddling through thousands of dead fish carpeting a Brazilian lake tells part of the story. So too does the onset of America's worst tropical storm season in decades and warnings that the Antarctic is being threatened by warming seas.
The Age recorded all three of these distant phenomena on one page last week. Each is a costly and life-threatening local environmental disaster. Yet these events are just fragments of a far bigger picture of gloom and despair awaiting a world that ignores the warnings that they carry. These are not obscure or isolated occurrences, but part of a mosaic of climate-related changes to the global condition.
The fish are dying in the Amazon basin because of drought that some scientists argue has been aggravated by deforestation. Links are also being made between more intense weather events - such as hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Stan and Wilma - and climate change. Among the dozen hurricanes so far during the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season, a weak and little noted event named hurricane Vince earned the dubious distinction of becoming the first recorded tropical hurricane to make landfall in Europe.
But the most alarming revelations concern the rising temperatures being recorded in the Antarctic seas. Scientists with the British Antarctic Survey have concluded that sea temperatures are increasing so significantly that the unique fauna of the world's last great wilderness is in danger of succumbing to global warming. Air temperatures have risen by nearly 3 degrees Celsius over the past half century, while the sea ice cover has retreated by 20 per cent.
The Age finishes their editorial with this plea.
"It is tempting for individuals to shrug their shoulders and dismiss such problems as beyond their control. Certainly, governments must take the lead. But Australia has so far largely failed on this front, avoiding its moral and environmental responsibilities as a rich nation (and as the world's heaviest per capita producer of greenhouse gases) in not ratifying the Kyoto protocols. But every Australian can play a role through the individual decisions they make about consumption and energy use and, ultimately, even through their choice of government."
Yes it is tempting to dismiss these problems as beyond our control.
And, in all fairness,
they may be. But.
When do we start behaving as if our home is in peril?
If a fire is out of control,
You don't act like it doesn't exist.
You don't stand there frozen in your fear.
You do what you can,
to save lives,
to save your stuff,
to protect your family.
And we are an earthfamily.
Even as we are blinded by our nationalistic fogs,
And preened by the politics and pretentions of collective hubris,
in archaic mindforms that divide us from ourselves
and hide and frustrate our greater human potential.
What it is About