With a death toll steadily rising, the effects of Myanmar's devastating cyclone have yet to be quantified, but days after the storm one thing is clear: they will be long-lasting and far-reaching.
"Our biggest fear is that the aftermath could be more lethal than the storm itself," said Caryl Stern, head of the U.N. Children's Fund. Four days on, electricity and water supplies are still cut throughout the country. With broken sewage lines, mounting trash, impassable roads preventing access to clean water and food, and damaged hospitals, the nation faces a likely-devastating public health crisis. The World Health Organization has pinpointed malaria and tuberculosis—two diseases that thrive amidst overcrowding and bad water—as especial threats. Meanwhile, the spread of communicable diseases is speeded by blocked roads, which trap sick people in and keep health workers out.
They also prevent the easy egress of rice: one of Myanmar's major exports. Last year the country exported 400,000 tons of rice. Now, shipments to Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, which would have fed some of the world's poorest, have been halted. While the government assesses the extent of damage to paddies and citizens clear the roads, these countries are turning to a market already stressed by increased emphasis on biofuels and rising oil prices, among others. Though it is unclear whether worldwide food prices will rise as a result; in Myanmar the cost of rice and cooking oil has already tripled.
The real tragedy surfacing from reports is that this fallout may very well have been prevented. In the wake of the 2004 tsunami, scientists studying the devastation discovered that dense and healthy mangrove forests slowed the massive waves and curtailed damage. Fish and shrimp farms, tourism and population growth have led to the worldwide loss of millions of acres of mangroves over the past few decades. The bulk of the harm caused by Nargis was attributed not to the storm, but to the waves—something the formerly mangrove-crammed coastline of Myanmar could have blocked. Meanwhile, the UN has fingered the government's failure to install an early warning system as a major contributor to the loss of life; the cyclone formed five days before touching down.
MIT students designed a house that will survive a tsunami. You can see it at http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/06/050608055016.htm and the cost to build this is about 1,200. I designed one that will withstand tsunami, cyclone, hurricane, tornado and fire. Not built yet but I had one science teacher at the U of Oregon, Michael Mitchell tell me it's fascinating, the Governor of Oregon, Kitzhaber, wrote an e-mail and asked me to continue working on it.
My house is submersible, aerodynamic, there is no wood so it won't burn, and escapable after submerged. If there is anybody out there also interested in this concept please contact me at email@example.com. I'm a student, artist, fabric designer, and taking Interior Architecture. My web site is www.fabricposh.com
When Katrina happened my friends were lost for one week, and that's when I thought it's time someone comes up with a house that can withstand any disaster. I think I have it.
Everytime I see a new disaster I wish I could get one built. All I need is someone who lives near a coast and wants one.
It's not going to the the $1,200.00 cost of the MIT house but mine will keep Grandma's pictures dry, and the people inside safe.
Let's try one.
I can see that this disater is a big one, what I can't see is how people will sometimes say things like this are preventable. I believe that natrual disater warnings are like wild guesses in the casino, sometimes you win sometimes youl lose. One thing's for certain.... the outcome can be a lifesaver or a catastrophy. I hope that efforts will be made to help those people down there though.
How many people need to die before we realize we cannot own the earth, that we all own the earth, that we all need to work toghether for equalization of society, but as a whole. People are paid to much for the job here, and to little for the job there. One Society, Stable, Faster Gain. The more people in happy harmonous living can work more efficiently, with a smile, when they know the whole world is. This is preventable, honestly, it doesnt take a genius to exploit what is wrong with the world. When there is this mass of natural disturbance, why should we expect it to be their job for acknowledgement to save life.
I believe they tried that whole "everyone working together for equalization of society" in Russia some time ago.
I heard it didn't work...
I find it a tragedy that these natural disasters are worsened by mankind's raping of planet earth... we only have one... Though "man made" global warming has been disputed even by the man who first suggested it, and thousands of scientists world wide have attributed it to the sun's warming as entire solar system has been heated up... we still have people focusing too much on flex fuel from corn and carbon taxes that we're letting these more important problems like polluting our oceans and clear cutting of rainforests for corn crops, that ineffectively offer less fuel than say, growing marijuana plants for fuel, which provide the same amount of fuel w/ 1/10th the space necessary... not to mention how this has caused a dramatic increase in food costs world wide... the storm wasn't preventable, but the damage was... how unnecessary... ugh...
Global temps have held steady and started to decline in 1997. Very popular cause, this global warming, but only something to get people in a panic. How long until they want to propose a global cooling tax?
To suggest that mangrove trees (assuming there actually had once been such trees in this part of Burma) would have helped people and that the disaster was thus "preventable" is like saying New Orleans was preventable because there had once been many mangroves. Humans constantly change their natural environment and that is foreseeable and in some cases almost necessary for people to individually survive -- as by fishing off the coast of Myanmar.
It is unlikely that the government could have done much to avoid the disaster with "advance warnings". I just returned from northern Lao PDR, a neighbor of Myanmar. If the Lao third world roads (which are instant mud tracks in a rain), limited vehicular access and limited vehicle ownership (motor scooters are fairly common in rural Lao, but not everyone has them and the raods, as mentioned are hard pressed to handle serious traffic) are any indication of what the conditions are in the delta of Myanmar, five days of notice would never have cleared the place out no matter what we first worlders with all our modern roads, weather "guesses" we call forecasts, TVs, cell phones and autos might think. We didn't (and couldn't) evacuate New Orleans -- do you think the Myanmar residents would all have safely left behind their homes, limited livestock and way of life with the limited means to travel?