GLOBAL WARMING. WHO REALLY CARES?

It is hard to get excited about the devastating effects of global warming because the worry-warts have not done a good job of making clear why the rest of us should worry. What exactly is so awful about the mean temperature of the Earth rising 3 degrees in 100 years? And suppose it is awful, won’t the inexorable grinding away of technology cure the problems if not in the next decade or two, then in the following 30 or 40 or 50 years? So, isn’t it somebody else’s worry? For many of us, our grandchildren will be dead in a hundred years. That is why only 5% of Americans (according to our friends at Gallup) rank global warming as important an environmental concern as air and water quality or toxic waste or land conservation. The Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies has a list of 39 recommendations NOT to help us out of the global warming mess but how to raise the public’s sense of alarm. Right now only about 35% of the public is at all concerned but Yale hopes to bring a feeling of insecurity to 50%.

INDONESIA EARTHQUAKE

Tempo interactive (Indonesia)……….I hope my arithmetic fails me because this newspaper reports that this weekend’s earthquake will cause losses of Rp 2.5 trillion. I believe that is equal to $250 billion, which is more money than I think is in all Indonesia. If this is right, then even with all the international humanitarian aid that will surely flow in, the country will never recover financially.

However, this amount only includes damage to school buildings, government offices, stores, and people’s homes. ”It hasn’t been possible yet to estimate the value of the damage to the palace (keraton). But it must be very high due to the severe damage,” said Bambang Susanto, Regional Secretary of the Special District of Yogyakarta, yesterday (28/5).

The total losses will increase because the damage to transportation infrastructure like main roads and bridges has not yet been included.

According to Bambang, in order to rebuild houses, a minimum of Rp200 billion in funds will be required. It is expected that the funds will be provided by the central and regional governments from the state budget and the regional revised budget. Muhammad Yusuf Ashari, the Public Housing Minister, promised aid for rebuilding ruined houses. However, he has not yet set the total fund to be provided, or the time to rebuild the ruined houses. “We will look for the funds,” he said in Klaten yesterday. Central Java’s Governor, Mardiyanto has called on the residents to repair their own houses first.

NY Times……….The Times does not regard the earthquake as a major disaster and points out that 4500 deaths cannot be compared to the 75,000 that occurred in the Pakistan disaster. Accordingly, it has given it 2nd rate coverage. The earthquake is “relatively modest”. The Times writes: “There was no comparison to be made between the relatively modest earthquake on Saturday and far more devastating quakes in Pakistan and Pakistani-administered Kashmir last October, which killed 75,000, and in Iran in 2003, which killed 31,000, let alone the tsunami, which killed 181,000 people in Southeast Asia in 2004.” By this token, what’s all the fuss about 3000 people on 9/11? The Times also reports there was little damage to buildings: “Apart from the airport, however, Yogyakarta’s infrastructure was mostly intact, allowing the government and aid agencies to get help to the area relatively quickly.”

The Times treated the event like an 11 PM TV broadcast would. It tried to convert the event into a small personal tragedy so we could relate to it. Here are the first three paragraphs:

BANTUL, Indonesia, Monday, May 29 — Sugiarto, a 50-year-old chicken farmer, spent Sunday night lying immobile with a severe back injury at the edge of a crowded tarp outside Bantul General Hospital, his wife shielding his face as rain whipped down.

In Bantul, villagers mourned on Saturday and prepared mass graves for victims of a powerful early morning earthquake that leveled buildings. Mr. Sugiarto said his back was broken when the roof of his house fell on him in the 6.3 magnitude earthquake on Saturday. He was first turned away from the hospital because his injuries were not considered serious enough amid the devastation in Bantul, a district eight miles south of Yogyakarta where most of the deaths occurred.

“We returned to our mosque, where we sat out front and prayed,” said his wife, Ngatinah, 43. “We prayed all night in the rain.” Neighbors drove them in a pickup truck. Like most people here, they refuse to stay inside, terrified of the aftershocks that come every few hours.

Mr. Sugiarto, who like many Indonesians uses only one name, was back at the hospital awaiting treatment for a second day in a row. He lay on nothing more than a plastic sheet next to the hospital parking lot.