December 31, 2004

Tsunami New Year

Just when it looked like the political drama in the Ukraine might be the story to close out 2004, an absolutely devastating earthquake-borne tsunami wreaked havoc across Southeast Asia and as far west as the east cost of Africa.

A number of online sources (,, and even provide links to charities and aid organizations providing relief.

The amount of aid is ramping up quickly, at least in terms of dollars committed (now up over $1 billion thanks to major contributions by the World Bank and the U.S.). It has been interesting and sometimes disappointing to watch the highly political "do we feel good enough about ourselves?" donation game being played out across the world in the last few days. As a number of commentators pointed out, the amounts initially pledged by many countries were downright embarassing, even accounting for the fact that the true scale of the devastation was not yet known. Both Canada and the U.S. have increased their promised contributions tenfold in the past couple of days. The U.S. increase, to $450 million, may temporarily put to rest the "stinginess" accusation implicitly levelled by a U.N. official a few days ago. Until the increase, the U.S. government had committed far less on a per capita basis than many other countries (U.K., Australia, Canada, etc.). Canada also added to its response a moratorium on debt owed by the affected countries, arguing this would help not only immediate relief efforts but also longer-term rebuilding. In addition to the federal government's $40 million, Ontario and Alberta have each pledged $5 million and B.C. $8 million. Some readings on the subject of donations in Canada, including an interesting article that scratches the surface of the impact of the Internet on donations:

Hmmm ... apparently I read the Globe and Mail a lot.

In other (related) news, I've also been following two other tsunami sub-stories. First up, why warnings weren't better communicated when some people had figured out what was going on.

Second, on a vaguely related note, why do the vast majority of animals appear to have been among those who had figured out what was going on? A lot of vague "sixth sense" assertions are flying around, but some less abstract and quite convincing (and not too surprising, all things considered) explanations are emerging.

Posted by anatole at December 31, 2004 07:25 PM