The US government has in effect offered $3.80 for each of the 20 million people who’ve lost family members, food, clean water, homes, and livelihoods because of the floods. It’s spent 158 times that for military aid, much of which has not gone to fight terrorism, but to bolster a military dictatorship, to provide heavy weaponry that threatens India, and to benefit the US defense industry. It’s spent 4,276 times as much to fight a war that shows little prospect of winning hearts and minds, nor for ending terrorism.
(Of course, we may later spend more on flood relief; we could consider annual, rather than total costs; all of the numbers are contested estimates. But regardless of how you cut it, the differences are striking.)
Then we ask: Why don’t “they” love us and embrace our values?
In 2004, the Federal Emergency Management Agency began a $200 million/year flood map project using mapping technology (GIS/GPS) to identify areas susceptible to flooding. The goal was to mitigate future catastrophes like the flood in Iowa, which caused $10 billion of damage.
But critics, including civic leaders, developers and home owners in several states, have complained that the new maps are riddled with inaccuracies, seem arbitrarily drawn, and will stifle growth and hurt property values…Doug Boyer, whose home would be in the flood plain for the first time if FEMA’s Oakville map gains final approval, said it’s inexplicable why FEMA extended the flood plain border to the center of Main Street in the relatively flat town. “The east side is in the flood plain and the west side is fine — it’s odd that the water will stop at Main Street.” FEMA flood maps are full of errors, cities say
Property owners naturally have a vested interest in what the new maps say. Nevertheless, it’s easy to sympathize with Boyers wonderment at why the water would stop at Main Street. This seems like a good argument for the incorporation of user-generated content in the production of maps, or what’s called Volunteered Geographic Information, as in a forthcoming issue of Geomatica.