postheadericon KUIRE KO KURA: Stability Is Almost Never Newsworthy

Now that Hurricane Irene coverage has diminished to a category minus-one news story, and major news outlets now lead with things like “Holocaust Survivor Succumbs to Irene” and “Disaster Funds Running on Fumes,” I supposed it’s time to get back to work reading about things that matter to others besides just those living on the eastern seaboard of the United States.

But I am not sure what that would be... more on the forgotten war in Afghanistan? Gadhafi? Syria? Nepal’s new leader?

I think I’ll go with the latter, as I was struck by what Nepali farmer Kedar Thapa said in regards to the new prime minister on

For me, it is not important whether the new Prime Minister will conclude the peace process and constitution drafting in a given time or not. I only wish the government lasts longer so that the situation is stable.

The wisdom of earthy folk always impresses me when their truisms make their way into the media. People of the land want stability, regardless of the probability that stability will ever occur. People of the “air” could care less about being grounded, as for them, chaos reigns supreme in the lofty atmospheres in which they travel. And by ungrounded people, I mean westerners and the western media.

Hurricane Irene coverage is the perfect illustration of this western desire to remain unhinged in all aspects of daily life. Excitement is stirred to fever pitch whenever a weather system moves over warmer waters and produces images from space that resemble scenes from the movie “The Day After Tomorrow,” and that also promises to provide 24x7 media coverage of rising tides and swinging traffic signals.

When I was a kid growing up in NYC we discussed the weather as it happened, and we did not have the luxury of tracking storms via NOAA printouts or tweets from FEMA. We simply looked outside the window and said to each other, “Hey look, it’s raining today.”

But today’s New Yorker will instead rush to the store based on CNN forecasts to stock up on wine and cheese and then fret over how many charged batteries they have ready for their $50 Maglites. It is all about preparing for every minor inconvenience, like wet feet or wind-blown hair.

The cost to clean up after Hurricane Irene is estimated to be $7 to $10 billion, and cost over 40 people their lives. Compare this storm with one that hit closer to home: in 1970 Cyclone Bhola killed over 500,000 people in two countries, cost an estimated $185 million to clean up (about $1 billion in today’s dollars), and is attributed to helping Bangladesh succeed from Pakistan one year later in 1971.

Now that was one hurricane to go on and on about...

Looking at recent earthquakes in the same way also comes up with some interesting numbers; take for example Washington D.C.’s recent earthquake, and compare that with Pakistan’s last major one back in 2005. In D.C., the cost is estimated at no dead and $1 billion (although it is not clear on what that will be spent on outside of the 4” crack at the top of the Washington Monument), and the cost for Pakistan was $5.4 billion with 79,000 dead around the region.

Now of course I am crap at making sense from statistics such as this, but I can only conclude from the numbers that 1) when disaster strikes, it hits us harder then those on the east coast of America, and that 2) more money is spent on cleanup per number dead in America then anywhere else on the planet.

While my summary is news not-worthy to print, we all know this premise to be true: that Americans are high maintenance when compared to Asians, and that Asian living structures collapse at the drop of a hat.

However, what I do see as a valuable take-away is that Asians stand to lose the most, but seem concerned in the least. A quick look at any structure going up in your neighborhood will confirm, as will any look at GoN’s disaster preparedness plan for the next natural disaster likely to blow in or crackup from below.

We stand with farmer Kedar Thapa in this regard – wishing for a bit of stability in an ever-stormy and crumbling world.

This article first published in on 9/3/2011


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