Wednesday, January 05, 2005

The Big Splash

Being on holiday for the last couple of weeks means that I have been spending more time with family than at keyboard (quite right, too!)

Not being in a position to comment directly is asking fate to stage something dramatic: and I guess that it doesn't come more dramatic than the boxing day tsunami that affected the entire Bay of Bengal (which is a fairly respectable chunk of the Earth's surface)
It occurred to me last night that it occurred on the 30th anniversary of the flattening of Darwin by cyclone Tracy.
It seems quite surreal to be going about one's normal post-Christmas business when, elsewhere, upwards of 200,000 lives have been swept away, and millions have been left with nothing. (Earlier in the week, I thought I was being typically pessimistic in extrapolating beyond 100,000 casualties)

I gave a donation, although it seems like a drop in the ocean (literally!). An opportunity to provide more tangible assistance arrived on the doorstep last Sunday, when someone from down the street put out a call for any extra household items to be delivered for shipment to Sri Lanka. Good on 'em!

As I write, I have not yet heard of any disease outbreaks, but it's likely only a matter of time...

On that topic, last week's New Scientist pointed out the WHO's prognosis for avian flu, if it ever gets established in the human population.

Pessimistic estimate: 100 million deaths.

That's hundreds of times worse than the casualties of boxing day, although it would be spread out over a longer period, and there would be no infrastructure damage.

Still, I guess it shows that things could be worse.


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