Wired News: Too Many People in Nature’s Way

It’s nice when an old-fashioned wire story from a former employer hits the target. The AP (picked up by Wired) highlights how Katrina and other large-scale natural hazards seem to be affecting the sophisticated US more than lower tech developing economies.

Rather than indicting the US government, which one assumes must take its share of the blame for the poor response to the Gulf Coast disaster, the AP story suggests a more fundamental exploration of our reliance on technology and miscalculation of risk is necessary.

It may well be true, if not yet proven, that the more significant risk of storm and flood damage, was overshadowed by the more available risk of terrorism in resource allocation decisions post 9/11.

This is as much the fault of the media as the government, and in a way shows the media itself learned very little in the wake of 2001. Also, the excessive focus on trying to “prove” the war on Iraq to be a mistake, leaves much less time within major media coverage for developing the more complex story that would expose the systemic weakness Katrina has overwhelmed.

It may also be worth major media pondering how much they contribute to this process by exaggerating the terrorism story. It is easy to tell and dramatic. A more self-conscious media might be more resistant to the terrorists’ easy manipulation.

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