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Archive for December, 2004

December 31st 2004

Greens and Tsunami: Put Earth First

First, I’ll share the good thing about trolling through greenie and leftist blogs for their take on the tsunami disaster: Their desire to help parallels ours, with links to donation sites and challenges to contribute.

Some of the targets of their contributions, though, are troubling: Red Crescent instead of Red Cross, and eco-sensitive charities like one that provides insecticide-permeated mosquito nettings as an answer to malaria, so DDT might not be used. There are two problems with that: First, people only spend eight hours a day under mosquito netting and 16 hours not under it. Second, the environmental harm posed by DDT has been challenged and, many would say, dismissed as a hoax.

But the greens soldier on, putting earth first, people second.

Fish First

WorldChanging, a site that bills itself as “Models, Tools, and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future,” leads this charge. Within days of the disaster, it had posted a lengthy, link-laden paper on the possible impact of the tsunamis not on people, but on fish. “How many fish were washed ashore? How many reefs were damaged?” it asks. How can their minds even go there when the human suffering is on such an incomprehensible scale?

The conclusion of the article is shocking: Until we know what impact the tsunamis had on local fish populations and their ability to re-establish themselves, “the fishing industry may have to be suspended to allow for the sea life to adapt and adjust.”

Perhaps the authors have never been to Asia and witnessed the importance of seafood in the diet. It is, unquestionably, the most important protein source to these billions of human beings. In suggesting eliminating this source of protein, the ecologists are saying they are willing to risk even more human death and malnutrition while they study Mother Earth.

If you question the wisdom of removing fishing and a fish-based diet from the region, especially at this time, they have a response: “New livelihoods and sources of food may have to be found.” As if the reconstruction facing the region is not already daunting enough; they want to introduce a new economy as well!

This is a common thread running through the environmental movement — the desire to put the study of nature above the needs of man, coupled with the need to change man to suit their view of how we should live. The other common thread is to blame natural disasters on humans, not nature.

Mangrove Madness

WorldChanging adds its voice to whose who blame the loss of life on development, not nature. The culprit is, of course, capitalism; this time, it’s form is resort developers and operators. The charge is they removed mangrove swamps that protected the coast, opening the population to devastation.

To drive this point home, they quote Jeff McNeely, chief scientist of the Swiss-based World Conservation Union (IUCN), who says (here):

“What has made this a disaster is that people have started to occupy part of the landscape that they shouldn’t have occupied,” he told AFP in a telephone interview from Paris. “Fifty years ago the coastline was not densely occupied as now by tourist hotels.

“The hotels did not replace traditional villages because the villagers built inland, McNeely said.

This is hogwash on so many levels it boggles the mind; yet it was dutifully reported as truth by the greens’ toadies in the MSM.

First, the traditional fishing villages were not built inland. I toured Southeast Asia extensively in the late 1960s, before the tourist hotels arrived, and villages hugged the coast throughout the region even then, as they have for thousands of years. (It’s one reason why the death toll from the eruption of Krakatoa was so high.) Seafront fishing villages are what you’d expect in a fishing-based economy, but McNeely decided to just lie instead, and his lie was published unchallenged.

Second, the alleged decimation of mangrove swamps has not been documented; rather MSM is accepting enviro statements as truths. Enviros always overstate habitat loss, and I’m certain that when things have settled, we’ll find that it was overstated here, as well.

Third, McNeely ignores the fact that human societies strive to evolve towards better places, even though he no doubt encourages just such activities among critters. In the towns with tourist economies, there is more work, more money, more medicine and, yes, more environmental protections (like sewage plants) than exist with the earlier sustanance-based fishing villages.

Fourth, the greens emphasize the relatively few areas where development occurred and ignore the much more massive tragedy elsewhere. For every mangrove-deficient tourist town hit, hundreds of tiny villages were hit. In these villages, there were mangrove swamps, yet there was death and destruction on a similar scale.

My take-away from this is not reassuring. The UN will be in charge of much of the relief effort, and this sort of green-think is prevalent among UN aid agency bureaucrats. I fear they will use the disaster as a means to further eco-socialist restructuring of societies, which will not only further the immediate suffering of the people, but ensure their long-term suffering as well.

For more examples of enviroploitation of the tragedy, see the Steven Milloy’s Junk Science opinion piece on Fox News.


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December 31st 2004

Another Take on Greens & Tsunami

Greenie Watch has an interesting post (here) that takes a different angle than my post above — he shows how some greens see the disaster as evidence than man is trying to do “too much” and should just back off in the face of nature’s dominance.


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December 30th 2004

Greenies, Lefties and the Tsunami

I’ve been surfing the leftist and environmentalist blogs looking for their take on the tsunamis. Here are some cullings:

From Daily Kos:

This unimaginable, horrible catastrophe, had the potential to demonstrate the “compassionate” side of the United States and reap goodwill in the Muslim world (much like Clinton’s Kosovo liberation did for some time.)

Instead, we just handed Osama Bin Laden a PR bonanza. And you better believe Muslim charities — many run by radicals like Hamas — will fill the void and fan the flames of discontent.

As I mentioned before this appears to be a natural disaster, however the conspiracy portion of my brain wonders if this natural disaster wasn’t so natural.
Here’s an interesting scenario to nibble on: The Bush junta is tired of explaining itself to the media. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Rice are sick of the liberals in this country pointing out how many American lives are being lost in Iraq…so…Bush and his cronies devise a cunning and dastardly plan. In order to take people’s minds off of Iraq why not create a natural disaster?
We’ve done underwater nuclear weapons tests before (see Bikini Atoll) and they have a significant seismic effect. Is it then possible that the Bush regime detonated a large nuclear device on the ocean floor off the coast of Indonesia? After all, a natural disaster of these proportions certainly takes your mind off Iraq…
Love Mother Earth. She’s the only one we got. And if we piss her off, there will be a price to pay. She can be a mean, nasty landlady. Remember the old commercial about fooling Mother Nature? Don’t try it.

From Swami Uptown:

As someone struggling with the most basic concepts of Buddhism, I never really get past the first fact of life: The ground is not solid. Things change. Without any apparent reason.

[This is one of the reasons I so loathe George W. Bush and his inner circle-- their absolute certainty. And then they cover their smug sense of rightness with religion, which only makes them more ridiculous. Where in the New Testament is it written that Christ confers unerring confidence to those who believe?]

From Maggie Thatcher’s Underpants:

There’s something truly sickening about the condescending ‘relief’ efforts that rich, powerful Western nations mount whenever a natural disaster hits a poor part of the world. Contrast the billions spent on the fraudulent ‘War on Terror’ and Iraq invasion with the paltry, insulting, shameful amounts pledged to the people deeply affected by the Boxing Day Asian Earthquake.

Perhaps it’s too much to ask – after all the Indian Ocean Tsunami is only one the of the biggest natural disasters to hit the world in the last century – but where’s Tony Blair when some real leadership is needed? I’ll tell you where; still on holiday in Egypt. So while 75,000 lie dead with as many again predicted to be found buried below the rubble, and more than 5m now homeless, Tony tops up his suntan.

From PSoTD:

As specific incidents of sheer human loss, the earthquake/tsunami toll is much, much greater [than 9/11]. It remains to be seen if the priorities of the wealthiest nations on the earth, in policy and expenditure, will accurately reflect that human cost in future decisionmaking. If the past is any indicator, it’s unlikely.

From Iddybud:

“There are mysterious forces out there that are not fully understood by our oh-so-rational selves. I am reminded of the strange signs and omens that historians recorded before calamities: for instance the rain of frogs in Vietnam preceding the cataclysmic war. Or the odd celestial signs that preceded the death of Julius Caesar.

It is said that the very elements can be affected by the mystical powers of sages who have acquired superhuman powers through meditation and sadhana. I think we should all tread carefully, for now we are treading on things we do not know.”–Rajeev Srinivasan

From That’s Going Too Far:

George Bush is once again at his Texas ranch clearing brush, according to White House aides. The greatest natural disaster in modern times is unfolding in Southeast Asia, and he is moving bramble around on his godforsaken patch of dust like Sisyphus in a Stetson. How much brush can there be to clear? And what the hell is he “clearing” it away for? Is he planning to build a landing strip on the lower 40? Create the world’s largest ball of brush?

From The Daily Crow:

I mean, what the ****? 50,000 people killed from a **** earthquake and tidal wave fiasco?! Wow! That is truly stunning. I wonder if this is the start of very dramatic, much more dramatic, Mother Nature activity. There could certainly be more plate shifting, earth quaking activities. Scary, scary stuff.

Hearts go out to those poor folks. Mine sure does. It’s a good thing our lives are in “His” hands, and this is just a big part of “His” big plan for christians proving their love to “Him”. So, if you’re up there… **** You God!!!

From Informed Comment:

As John F. Harris and Robin Wright of the Washington Post cannily note, US President George W. Bush has missed an important opportunity to reach out to the Muslims of Indonesia. The Bush administration at first pledged a paltry $15 million, a mysteriously chintzy response to what was obviously an enormous calamity. Bush himself remained on vacation, and now has reluctantly agreed to a meeting of the National Security Council by video conference. If Bush were a statesman, he would have flown to Jakarta and announced his solidarity with the Muslims of Indonesia (which has suffered at least 40,000 dead and rising).

Indeed, the worst-hit area of Indonesia is Aceh, the center of a Muslim separatist movement, and a gesture to Aceh from the US at this moment might have meant a lot in US-Muslim public relations. Bin Laden and Zawahiri sniffed around Aceh in hopes of recruiting operatives there, being experts in fishing in troubled waters. Doesn’t the US want to outflank al-Qaeda? As it is, the president of the United States is invisible and on vacation (unlike several European heads of state), and could think of nothing better to do than announce a paltry pledge. As Harris and Wright rightly say, the rest of the world treated the US much better than this after September 11.

From Ken Sain:

I mean, seriously, anyone who has looked at how [Bush] has spent the U.S. taxpayers’ money cannot call the man stingy. He never saw a dime or nickel that our great, great grandchildren might one day have that he didn’t want to spend.



December 30th 2004

World Weeps, Kofi Skis

Amid criticisms of Bush for being in Texas and Blair for being in Cairo (see post below), was anyone wondering where Kofi Annan was?

It turns out he was skiing in Jackson Hole and opted to stay there for three more days after the tsunami hit.

We may not hear this mentioned much in the MSM or liberal blogs — but really, it makes little difference where Bush, Blair or Annan were or what they did in the days after the tsunami. They are leaders (well, maybe not Annan), and they have staffs for these sorts of things (well, maybe not Annan).


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December 30th 2004

Refugee Photos Damn Arafat, Arabs

The fourth photo-essay on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by LA Times photographer Rich Loomis is a ringing condemnation of Arafat and the Arabs.

One cannot look at the pictures of desolation and hopelessness and not think of the hundreds of millions of relief dollars Arafat and his cronies spent on themselves rather than their people.

One cannot look at these pictures and not think of the Arab nations so quick to condemn Israel and so slow to help their Palestinian “brothers.”

One cannot look at these pictures and not think of the UN, which has passed so many resolutions to condemn Israel, but has done so little to help the Palestinian people.


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December 30th 2004

Falloujah Doom-Writing

The vultures are descending on Falloujah, and they’re carrying reporter’s notebooks.

Today’s LA Times piece by Edmund Sanders (here) is a case in point. Sanders asks how there can be an election in 30 days, given the chaos of Falloujah, then he illustrates the point with tales of destroyed homes, broken infrastructure and heavy security restrictions on the population.

I’m sympathetic to the families who are returning to see their homes destroyed. Perhaps it would have been better for them to cooperate with the new Iraqi government instead of allowing and even supporting terrorist insurgents in their midst.

Sanders fails to point out a few things:

  • No one was offering a Democratic election in Falloujah when Saddam Hussein was in power.
  • In nearly all the rest of Iraq, none of his concerns apply, since 15 of the country’s 18 provinces are stable.
  • Perhaps rubble in the streets of Fallujah is better than beheaded bodies in the streets of Fallujah and blood-stained rape and torture chambers off the alleys of Fallujah.

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December 30th 2004

Did Tsunamis Wash Away God?

Australia is a largely secular country on the doorstep of the terrible tsunami tragedy. Thoughtful Aussies are trying to sort out the meaning of the disaster, perhaps even more earnestly than we are. One such attempt, authored by Dr. Edward Spence, an Australian philosopher at Charles Sturt University, appears under the headline, “Waves of Destruction Wash Away Belief in God’s Benevolence.” (here, registration required; hat tip Real Clear Politics)

Spence’s thesis is this: Perhaps, though omnipotent, He is not benevolent. That might explain why, although it was within His power to stop the tsunami, He simply chose not to: God has His own reasons and we are not to ask why. However, this answer will not suffice since by definition God is perfect. Being perfect, He must of necessity not merely be omnipotent but benevolent as well.

To be proved valid, Dr. Spence’s thesis must survive this analysis: Would the characteristics of a non-benevolent God explain the nature of life on Earth?

The answer is clearly no. If one looks at the universe, Earth is a uniquely hospitable place, and it took an insurmountable amount of chance (from an evolutionary point of view) or an incomprehensible amount of care and effort (from an intelligent design point of view) to make it so. Christian astrophysicist Hugh Ross writes of this extensively (here), describing the exquisite fine-tuning required to provide a temperate atmosphere, fresh water, modest seasonal change, just the right amount of night and day, radiation protection and more, without any one of which Earth would be just another frozen orb floating in a hostile universe.

Human creation is by definition a benevolent act, so the Creator must be a benevolent creator.

Spence also fails to consider the question of God’s sorrow, which helps to explain disasters. He accepts, then rejects because it offers no comfort, the Greek philosopher Epicurus, the said the gods were simply indifferent to human joy and sorrow. This conflicts with a bio on Spence, which describes him as “a moderate Epicurean.”

Neither moderate nor full-blown Epicurians can answer this question: How do we know that God isn’t weeping benevolent tears of incomprehensible sorrow in Heaven as he watches this tragedy? Because he did not act to stop it does not prove God is not benevolent, it merely proves that for some reason we don’t understand, he didn’t intervene. Not couldn’t, but didn’t intervene.

Like most whose faith is challenged by disasters large and small, Spence fails to consider that God exists in a different time continuum than we do. For them, these deaths are final; for God they are a slightly quicker end to a short span of human life, after which eternity beckons. But, some might ask, if another day or week or year were granted a certain person swept away in Indonesia or Sri Lanka, might they have accepted Christ, been saved by grace, and had a different eternity?

Don’t you think an omniscient God who lives outside our time would know that person’s heart? Besides, none of us knows when our end will come, whether by speeding truck, clogged arteries or waves of destruction. How could He give them more time and not give us all more time?

Spence can’t figure out his conundrum and concludes still confused about the nature of God: Ultimately, the problem of evil confronts us not as a puzzle to be solved but as a mystery to be experienced. How confused Secularists can become. It’s all quite clear to me, but then I didn’t even know people could be categorized as “moderate Epicureans” and would probably be considered horribly unsophisticated by most university philosophy professors.


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December 30th 2004

Greenies: Oil Companies Caused Earthquake

You read it right: Some in the environmental movement have found a “link” between the Southeast Asian earthquake/tsunami disaster and that mean old internal combustion engine and the companies that feed them. I found this via a couple link click-throughs at Environmentalist Whackos:

Now I dont claim to be an expert on seismic activity, but there has been a series of events which led up to the 9.0 earthquake of the coast of Indonesia which can not be ignored. This all could be an enormous coincidence, but one must look at the information and choose for themselves whether there is anything to it.

On November 28th, one month ago, Reuters reported that during a 3 day span 169 whales and dolphins beached themselves in Tasmania, an island of the southern coast of mainland Australia. The cause for these beachings is not known, but Bob Brown, a senator in the Australian parliament, said “sound bombing” or seismic tests of ocean floors to test for oil and gas had been carried out near the sites of the Tasmanian beachings recently. …

A great deal of interest and seismic testing has been taking place in this area, as the government of Australia has given great tax breaks to encourage the oil exploration.


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December 29th 2004

America the Stingy?

“It is beyond me why are we so stingy, really,” said Jan Egeland, the Norwegian bureaucrat who heads up relief efforts for the United Nations of the US’ initial promise of $15 billion in aid.

Jonah Goldberg expertly dissects the UN budget and US giving in his Town Hall column. (here) Hat tip Real Clear Politics. Besides detailing the hard costs, he analyzes the soft, like how much value we provide the world by keeping the sea lanes clear, deterring North Korea from taking over South Korea, and so on and on.

And he summarzies:

Meanwhile, American citizens, partly thanks to those stingy low taxes, send some $34 billion in private aid around the world every year. That’s 10 times the United Nations total budget. America’s Christian ministries, private foundations and agencies all do far more in direct charity and aid than the United Nations. But bureaucrats – some who’ve grown fat on oil-for-food money – measure stinginess in terms of support to the bureaucracy, not to the constituency the bureaucracy was intended to help.



December 29th 2004

Tsunami Detection Explained

Opinion Journal has a greatly informative article on the hows/why/why nots of tsunami protection and education (here). Hat tip Real Clear Politics.


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