Sunday, May 13, 2012
PUTTING IN PLACE DISASTER SANITATION A FIRST STEP IN DEVELOPING A REAL DISASTER RELIEF INDUSTRY. HERE'S WHAT IS NEEDED GLOBALLY
I’ve written about this enigma again and again. And I still get requests to write about it more deeply. Let’s go down the rabbit hole. An INDUSTRY is an established form of commercial activity - aka - “THE TOURIST INDUSTRY” - the “TRANSPORTATION INDUSTRY.” etc. People work in an industry everyday. Not so with the “disaster relief” folk.
When a disaster occurs - say a quake - those charged with assisting the victims - let’s call the “disaster relief specialists” - pick up the phone and begin the process of finding out what resources are available. Obviously - if disaster relief were an “industry” they’d already know what was available. Which brings us to this: WHY DOESN’T THE U.N. ORGANIZE A DISASTER RELIEF INDUSTRY?
Here’s the reason: the U.N. doesn’t have the will. And I don’t think they have the skill sets necessary to do it right. For one thing - they don't seem to reach out to companies that know what they're doing - and they don't seem to understand that all the relief provisions would have to be mobile. Where the provisions are located would have to be coordinated with geologists and weather experts. Clearly - there are places on planet earth that can be documented as having REOCCURRING DISASTERS - and they would get first priority on the provisions.
Friday, April 6, 2012
Few outside those who monitor their effects globally realize how big quakes affect the whole planet. Often for years. It may be hard to believe - but the massive quake in Japan occurred over a year ago this past March 11. Intense shaking. A massive tsunami. Japan’s coastline suffered widespread damage. As far back as Japan has kept records - this was the BIGGEST. The quake was so powerful it altered the Earth’s gravity. This single quake was greater than the power of 50,000 hydrogen bombs.
The quake ruptured along the seafloor off the coast of the Tohoku region. Huge cracks were ripped along the seafloor for miles. Drop an egg on the floor. Take a look at the damage. You’ll get a feel for what happened to Mother Earth last year on March 11 in Japan. The many large quakes that have occurred over the last decade do not seem to be connected to some pattern of disaster - but rather simply the random volatility of the Earth itself.
What is driven home is how tiny and puny man is in the scheme of things. This tiny creature roaming about. A creature that tends to act bigger than he is - is brought down to Earth as it were when one of these babies goes off. Micro quakes were felt in Taiwan - Alaska - central California. All those fault lines reverberating as if the strings on a violin. TWANG! And the vibrations are felt all over the world. People moved around like sponges on a plate. Even in Cuba the buildings swayed. Cabbies pulled over to the curb. “What’s going on?”
Other tremors were felt in such diverse places as central Nebraska and central Arkansas - even near Beijing. The quake even effected the flow of glaciers in Antarctica. This was detected by GPS stations located on the ice. The quake in Japan was so powerful it slightly thinned the Earth’s crust enough to cause a reduction in the local gravity field. The planet’s rotation sped up because the quake accelerated the Earth’s spin. Imagine that.
NATIONS REFUSE TO SPEND ON PREPARATION FOR DISASTERS
Nations would rather pay the hundreds of billions of dollars to repair and restore than to spend a few million to prepare. As I’ve written again and again - there is no disaster relief industry. None. You cannot have a disaster relief industry if you don’t have in place the relief needed in the first place. What happens is that disaster relief becomes an ad hoc enterprise. A disaster occurs and people ascribed to disaster relief concerns hit the phones to see “what’s available.” Usually the pickings are slim.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
One year after Japan's earthquake warning system was put to its sternest real-world test - U.S. researchers have built a system that could provide the same type of advance alerts for quake-prone California — the only problem is that they can't afford to get it ready for prime time.
"I've got a system that works in my office," said Thomas Heaton, director of Caltech's Earthquake Engineering Research Laboratory. "It works for maybe 100 of us who are prototyping the system. It's been a grassroots effort where a number of scientists have cobbled it together as a demonstration project. But to turn it into a system where literally 50 million Americans would have everything linked into it? It's not ready for that."
The California network, known as Earthquake Early Warning or ShakeAlert - has been in development since long before the magnitude-9.0 quake and tsunami that swept over Japan last March 11. It operates much like the Japanese network does: Readings from about 400 seismic monitoring stations around California are processed on a real-time basis, and when a quake is detected, computer software figures out how long it will take seismic waves to reach your location.
The system takes advantage of the fact that two types of seismic waves emanate from the epicenter: The first waves to arrive are primary waves, or P waves, which are followed by slower secondary waves, or S waves. The S waves, which travel through Earth's crust at a speed of about 2 miles per second, produce more up-and-down motion and tend to be more damaging. The P waves serve as precursors, enabling experts to estimate the intensity and arrival time for the S waves that will follow.
Monday, January 9, 2012
I just concluded a series of exchanges (if they can be called that) with some people in the Philippines. Massive flooding has displaced thousands. They’re putting victims up in schools and other places. . .that do not have near enough toilets to provide sanitation for thousands of people. . .for weeks. . .months. . .even years.
I tried to tell them there’s not such thing as a DISASTER RELIEF INDUSTRY. Disaster relief is always provided ad hoc. Phone calls are made to “see what's available.” In Haiti. . .somebody sent a container of rubber boots. They had a quake not a flood. Another sent a container of significantly expired packaged food. “Hey. . .I got a tax deduction coming. . .right?”
|Ever been excited at seeing one of these?|
They decided to purchase porta-potties in China. They had no idea they were suddenly going to be in the “poop-handling” business. Or that it takes as much as 200 gallons of water to clean a porta-potty. That you need trucks and a place to clean the porta-potties out. Few are really cleaned. Most are full of bacteria from the day they’re set in their nice tidy rows. These types of toilets. . .the cabana style. . .were designed for short-term events. People use them with great care. At a music concert. A construction site. Whatever. But when you have the scope of flooding experienced in the Philippines. . .you must think LONG-TERM relief.
THE WILDERNESS TOILET KIT IS THE LONG-TERM SANITATION SOLUTION FOR DISASTER VICTIMS
As you know. . .those of you who read this blog. . .I don’t shy away from talking about poop and pee. Why? Because although it’s an embarrassment in our existence. . .we all must poop and pee. . .or die. We must get rid of the wastes in our body. There is no choice. So. . .everyone poops and pees and it creates a mess everywhere on the planet. It also produces A NUMBER OF HAZARDS TO OUR HEALTH. In many hospitals. . .poop is considered a “biohazardous material” and is carried (when necessary to carry) in red bags clearly marked “Biohazardous material.”
For centuries. . .before the flush toilet. . .now voted by experts as the “Greatest invention in human history”. . .people used some sort of outhouse. They dug a hole and put a small covered shack above it. . .usually with one or more holes cut in a piece of wood. Winter. . .didn’t matter. You went to the outhouse to poop and pee. Now. . .in many parts of the world we have the flush toilet. And with it. . . something amazing has occurred. . .people stopped dying of diseases encased in human poop. Cholera and typhus and other diseases run rampant around latrines and other places where the public comes in contact with the Other’s poop.
In Haiti. . .as cholera now moves south. . .they keep finding poop under the fingernails of children. Many of whom have already contracted the disease. You die of cholera by losing body fluids. In the makeshift facilities where doctors are trying to save people dying of cholera. . .they cut a hole in the cot. . .so the fluids can drain out to a pan beneath it. The odors are beyond comprehension. And still authorities insist on repeating this process over and over and over.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
|Gary White and Matt Damon|
Hear. . .hear! I vote for Matt Damon and Gary White. At least it appears that they’ve trying to bring attention to the world about how the other half. . .quite literally. . .exists. You can't travel around the world and count the toilets available to people. But everywhere in Africa. . .everywhere in Indonesia. . .everywhere in China. . .everywhere in India. . .the Philippines. . .and much of Eastern Europe and Mongolia. . .there are so few public toilets as to make irrelevant any conversation about them. Essentially we exist in a world WITHOUT toilets. Of interest. . .the flush toilet was considered by a panel of experts looking over all the inventions of man. . .the wheel. . .electricity. . .etc. . .as the most important invention in history.
Well. . .this blog has railed about this "no toilets in the world" problem for a long time. We offer a proven solution to disaster sanitation. PROVEN. And there's simply no interest to offset the suffering of those without them. The common solution. . .build latrines. . .is not the solution. Latrines kill people by passing on communicable diseases. . .much like rivers pass on river fever. Solid human body waste is dangerous to others. When people gather at the latrine to relieve themselves. . . they cannot avoid leaving behind bits of their visit. As Bill Gates said recently. . . the poor must be brought into the global economy. If they're suffering. . .the global economy is suffering as well.
You. . .the ones who claim to know what you’re doing say. . .No!. . .people are responsible. They clean up after themselves. Well. . .that response is irresponsible. People might do just that. . .if . . .if . . .if . . .if there were the water and soap and time to do so. There isn’t any of those things. People wait in lines. There's great pressure to get into the latrine. . .do your business. . .and get the hell out before the next person pulls you out. There's great tension at latrines. . .especially for women and young girls. They'll do almost anything to avoid the filthy latrines at night. Men too often wait for them. Latrines are rape zones.
But Damon and White are involved in publicizing the need for decent water and a toilet. “Nearly 40 percent of the world’s population is still unable to secure a safe glass of water or access a basic toilet.” Well. . .Matt. . .forget the “basic toilet.” That is not going to happen. The Third World is the Third World. The First and Second Worlds are now in a desperate state of trying to prevent a financial meltdown. As for the safe glass of water. If you read any of Charles Bowden’s books. . .you’ll learn about how many cities in America are bringing in their water. Big cities. And soon. . .it’s going to be harder and harder to get safe water. . .or any water for that matter. . .to many of these cities. Every city built in arid areas of America is in danger of losing its water supply.
Okay. . .back to the Third World (and perhaps the Fourth World as well). In the article I read on HuffPost about Damon and White. . .it speaks of a painful reality that “has driven philanthropic efforts to help stop the suffering. Conferences are held. Master plans are drawn up. Legislation is passed. Institutions are getting involved. Money is raised. Wells are dug. Ribbons are cut.
“But even after decades of charity. . .subsidies. . .multilateral aid. . .and investments on the part of governments and outside non-governmental organizations (NGOs). . .the system remains inefficient and largely misses the goal of providing relief for those at the base of the economic pyramid (BOP) in their daily need to secure water. The intentions are good. . .but the relief is not trickling down.” Damon and White are fully aware that there is no relief industry. Every disaster event. . .a quake. . .a flood. . .a hurricane. . .a tornado. . .wars. . whatever. . .are each handled ad hoc. “Hey Frank. . .what a you got in the warehouse this time?”
As far as the Fourth World. . .the ever-increasing slum world that surrounds every major city in the world. . .this quote from the HuffPost article tells a story about water and those who have to buy it. “On average. . .those living in slums pay 7-15 times more per liter of water than owners of nearby five-star hotels. This is because subsidies are largely delivered through unrealistically low water tariffs. . .if you are too poor to afford a water connection. . .you can't capture the subsidy.
“Similarly. . .if you are a poor day laborer in Port-au-Prince (Haiti) and you want a drink of safe water to quench your thirst. . .you will pay 250 times more than the cost of New York City tap water. Those who lack cash pay with their time. . .hours each day spent scavenging for water from public taps that frequently run dry. . . rivers. . .or even drainage ditches. There are nearly a billion people in this trap of water insecurity and about 2.5 billion lack a sanitary toilet.”
SANITATION. . .WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
A “sanitary toilet” is one that promises to be hygienic. . .meaning you won’t suffer a health hazard by using it. Now. . .latrines have been in use for millennia. . .and they’ve been the cause of entire armies getting sick. Yet. . .this is the “thinking” of so-called disaster relief effort planners. “Okay. . .Charlie. . .we’ll place the latrines here. . .here. . .and here.” “Right boss.” This scenario means there is a complete disregard for such a thing as a “sanitary toilet.”
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
We cannot know what it was like. . .day-to-day. . .to have had to exist in a Nazis concentration camp. We can read about it. . .we can see pictures and recoil as if smashed-mouthed by a big lineman. . .and still not have the slightest sense of how horrific it was to be humiliated. . .degraded. . .reduced. . .and finally killed off. The “plan” called for people to last about 3-months. In that way. . .there would always be room for the new labor. . .the new prisoners. . .the new death-mates.
Many of those who survived the Holocaust got involved in trying to bring to justice those who perpetrated the unspeakable crimes against humanity. Many were found. . .went to trial. . .either got prison time or were executed.
Here in November 2011. . .the History Channel began a new series by showing a documentary about Vietnam. Based largely on reprocessed home movies . . .we once again see in action the decisions to Search and Destroy. . .take no prisoners. . . drop napalm on known innocents like children. . .women. . .and elderly Vietnamese.
In 1969. . .together with my then moviemaking partner. . .I produced a movie about the social conflict between the establishment and mostly the college youth of the country. Some of the actions of the youth were reminiscent of the actions of the Occupy Movement. But even back then. . .as my writer-colleague Charles Deemer remembers. . .there was no “visceral gut-wrenching moral outrage.” Nor was there any real moral outrage over all the torturing incidents the U.S. engaged in after 9/11 to “gain vital information important to the national security of the country.”
AMERICA RIGHT OR WRONG
The ideology “America right or wrong” is a part of the entire political process. Both parties have. . .at their center. . .the sense that America can do no wrong. And if it does. . .it is still “the best country in the world.” But as Deemer has pointed out. . .”we learn nothing from history. . .how each generation reinvents the wheel." After a horrific incident. . .(you can easily insert incidents here from memory). . . the next day it’s business as usual. “Go to the mall” said the President after 9/11. In other words. . .keep buying. Keep burying your head in the sand. Keep being a consumer. . .a dupe. And soon after 9/11. . .the emotions about the incident were gone. After all. . .there were new incidents to think about. To feel. . .if possible.
The Center for Existential Depth Psychology Information (CEDP) has a piece on Freedom and Responsibility. They argue powerfully that freedom cannot be separated from responsibility. With freedom comes responsibility. . .personal responsibility. They also show that it’s common for people to want freedom. . .to seek freedom. . .while working to avoid the responsibility that goes with it.
NATIONS DO NOT ACT RESPONSIBLY REGARDING DISASTER RELIEF PREPARATION
The rhetoric is always there. A disaster occurs. A massive quake. A flood. A tsunami. Starvation-inducing droughts. The list goes on. And there isn’t a nation on planet earth that moves to prepare to provide relief to the victims of these events. We could understand if the events were rare. Seldom. Almost never. But the events are often. OFTEN! Recently there was a significant quake in the State of Oklahoma. Damage. Deaths. The usual things. But here’s my point. . . ‘scientists’ are concerned about the increased frequency of quakes in Oklahoma. There used to be about 50-70 small quakes annually. Now that humber is over 1,000 quakes annually. Note the word ANNUALLY!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Social conventions are deeply imbedded in a culture. . .in every culture for that matter. For example. . .the ongoing convention in entertainment is enemies. You’ve got to have enemies for the good guys to capture or kill. America feeds on the fear of enemies. The government and the media by extension. . .see to it.
Did you notice how easily we slipped from worrying ourselves to death about those “commie bastards” in Russia to “muslim extremists” in America? All they had to do was change the type. As the English writer Bruce Robinson put it. . . “Hollywood is basically Yanks running from special effects. From the infantile end of Scooby Doo. . .right up to the mainstream. . .it’s the same ‘ethic’ of fear. There are monsters and madman and Arabs out to get you. . .and the only place there is no fear is in the ads.’’
To try and get nations to prepare for natural disasters. . .which we’ve proved here over and over would be outrageously cost-effective. . .I realized it would require a totally new social convention. Instead of responding to a disaster. . .ad hoc. . .like the government of Turkey did during their most recent quake (October 2011). . .those responsible for relief would make a single phone call. . .and "relief". . .real well-planned relief. . . would be on its way. . .in minutes. But alas. . .the nations simply don’t give a crap about their people. In private meetings they talk flippantly about the loss of life: “What we needed was a really big one. . .shrivel down the population a bit.”
RELIEVING FEAR THROUGH ADVERTISING
“Your government is working hard on this rescue effort. . .” Sound familiar? Here in America. . .the so-called “American Dream” only occurs now while people are sleeping. “The American Dream will become fear relieved by advertising. Only in the ads will people enjoy security and freedom and peace.” The current election cycle is cranking up for 2012. “The candidates running for President will spend an estimated $2 billion for this go around” (enough to provide disaster relief supplies for every country on the planet for an entire year). It’s still 2011, , ,and they’ve already spent $500 million. “Change is just around the corner. . .We know how to create jobs. . . Relief is just a vote away.” The promise is that government will rescue people from the world’s woes. When a child is frightened it runs to its mother. When a citizen is frightened it runs to its politician. . .who reps his government. And the politician will promise anything to get his vote. And then nothing really changes.