Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Katrina Relief

The hurricane Katrina has not only killed 100 people or more but it may also have become the costliest natural disaster in the U.S. history - with the damage counted in tens of billions of dollars. While America always helps others, it seems unlikely that others share the same standards of compassion. Well, this is one of the reasons why the U.S. is special in the world today. But you may be different:
The money will help those who became homeless to satisfy the basic life necessities. Next time it may be better not to build new huge and fascinating cities like New Orleans below the sea level. Be ready that the oil price is gonna hit \$80 per barrel in the short term and gasoline will surpass \$3 per gallon.


  1. I am not so sure about oil hitting 80$,
    but what do I know ?

  2. Lubos:

    I think building a whole city, or even a whole country, under the sea level, is OK, as long as you are fully aware of the risks, and do every thing you can to reduce that risk.

    I do not know how the government planners worked. But I am extremely surprised that they build the levee, the last defense of the city, using earth! And with the huge pumps so critical in keeping the water out, even during normal times, there is no walls to protect those pumps from being flooded, and no backup power.

    And the result is tragic. The levee is broken and hopelessly irrepairable, and the pumps failed. The whole city is going to be completely submerged and un-salvageable now.

    Had they not been so near-sighted, for example, build the levees usign something a little more rigid, like concrete, instead of soil, things could be different. Or in shorter term, had they not wait until the last moment when it becomes painfully obvious that even a three year child realized the hurricane is heading to New Orleans, before they give the mandatery evacuation order, then a lot more people could have a chance to escape. At least they could have given a volunteer evacuation advice one day before giving the mantatory one. Now as 20,000 crowded into the superdome, has any one thought about the "remote" possibility it could be flooded just as well? A natural disaster is made much worse because of human sightlessness!

    Now the oil crisis, does any body wants to wait for the government to come out to tell you there is a crisis, before you believe it? Do you want to wait till the water comes in and submerge your whole house, before you can realize what is happening? Hasn't it become so obvious that the governments, the world leaders, and the experts, are all near sighted. And it is up to individual people to be a little bit wiser than that?

    The TV is now talking about $4 gasolines. 3 or 5 years down the road we may wish we can buy gas at $4 or even $10. The earth is running out of oil. It is not a matter of if, but a matter of when. And the margin of error of that question is realy only plus or minus a few years.


  3. Just two comments on your statement that the US always helps others while other countries don't.

    1. The US gives a much lower percentage of its GNI in aid to developing countries than most other industrialized countries. See the statistics from OECD at this page and more specifically this pdf file.

    I quote from the web page above:

    Fifteen of the twenty-two DAC member countries reported increased ODA in 2004. The United States remained the largest aid donor in volume terms, followed by Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Germany. The only countries to exceed the UN target for ODA of 0.7% of GNI remain Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

    2. Here are similar statistics for
    tsunami donations.

  4. ... and another comment. Other countries are helping. Another quote, from Wikipedia:

    Initially, the United States had been reluctant to accept donations and aid from foreign countries, particularly from those countries much poorer than itself. However, this policy was reversed, and as the reports of damage grew more grim, the United States is now on the receiving end of foreign aid. Currently, countries offering to send aid include Australia, Canada, China, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, France, Germany, Greece, Honduras, Hungary, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, other members in NATO, the OAS, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland, the UAE, the United Kingdom, and Venezuela. Sweden has also been reported to offer help, and is awaiting a reply to which forms of requested help there is from their Washington embassy.

    As of September 2, the Canadian Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team is one foreign group known to be operating in the Louisiana area, co-ordinating search and rescue efforts with the state police and the National Guard [53]. Three Singaporean CH-47 Chinook helicopters and thirty-eight RSAF personnel from a training detachment based in Grand Prairie, Texas are also assisting in relief operations, operating out of Fort Polk in cooperation with the Texas Army National Guard

  5. Go to for various citizen-funded KATRINA's relief effort. You can't count on the government to take care of its people. Obviously.