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The Tale of the Three Pigs Essay

In his essay “The Tale of the Three Pigs: Taking Another Look at Vulnerability in the Light of the Indian ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina”, Greg Bankoff argues  the lesson of the two tragic natural disasters is a portrait of the socio-economic issues that plague developed and developing nations.  The problem, he writes, is that developed nations view the solution as technological and miss the sociological implications of the death tolls.

In accordance with recent class readings, he points out that in Katrina specifically the American society placed its faith in technology rather than solving the underlying problems including development within a flood plain and the inability of some demographic groups to respond to impending natural disasters.

Parts of society have learned the lessons of the three pigs too well, he argues,  relying on technology and warning systems to avoid natural disaster. They are, effectively, building a house of brick, but are not acknowledging that there are other factors to the disaster than just having strong technology. He is argument is especially enlightening when comparing the idea that the portions of Southerast Asia hit by the tsunami had no warning and the southern American coast had days of warning.

Citizens in the United

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States had plenty of technology and warning, but still did not have the social infrastructure to move citizens out of harm’s way. In Southeast Asia, they had no warning and some people speculate that the death toll was so high because 80 percent of the women did not know how to swim, possibly due to cultural influences.

Bankroff’s point is well taken. The fact of the matter is that technology did not save the victims of Katrina and is unlikely to have saved the tsunami victims. The key to preventing that loss of life and other loss of life is dealing with the pervasive social issues. Recently, this point was reiterate by the fires in southern California.

Most of the victims of fire were lost for sociological reasons, not technological, a group of illegal immigrants camping out were caught by the blaze and several elderly residents were unable to leave their homes when the evacuation sounded. Once again, as Bankoff argued, the loss of life was not because we lacked technology or because the lazy and not-quite-as-lazy pig chose the wrong technology, but because of social factors beyond their control.

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