Woo hoo

Here’s a Cat4 cyclone (called hurricanes in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico) drawing a bead on Kolkata and Bangla Desh. Satellite photo here. It reminds me of the days before Katrina, with some interesting differences:

(1) The people in the path of Sidr are poor as churchmice.

(2) They live in one of the largest, flattest, lowest, river deltas on earth: the elevation 150 miles inland is only about 15 ft above sea level.

(3) There are few good roads and people don’t have cars to drive on them to evacuate anyway.

(4) More than four million people live in the coastal provinces of Bangla Desh; West Bengal has 80 million; don’t even ask about conditions in coastal Myanmar (on the high storm surge side of the storm).

(5) Government relief services may have competence and resources somewhat below those of FEMA (per capita income in Bangla Desh is about $2000).

(6) I can’t find a story about this unfolding catastrophe in any US mainstream media; CNN world has been covering it (I’m currently in Abu Dhabi) . There’s an AP story on CNN’s web site describing the evacuation of thousands (thousands??!! see (4) above) that makes things sound more or less under control.

Author: Michael O'Hare

Professor of Public Policy at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley, Michael O'Hare was raised in New York City and trained at Harvard as an architect and structural engineer. Diverted from an honest career designing buildings by the offer of a job in which he could think about anything he wanted to and spend his time with very smart and curious young people, he fell among economists and such like, and continues to benefit from their generosity with on-the-job social science training. He has followed the process and principles of design into "nonphysical environments" such as production processes in organizations, regulation, and information management and published a variety of research in environmental policy, government policy towards the arts, and management, with special interests in energy, facility siting, information and perceptions in public choice and work environments, and policy design. His current research is focused on transportation biofuels and their effects on global land use, food security, and international trade; regulatory policy in the face of scientific uncertainty; and, after a three-decade hiatus, on NIMBY conflicts afflicting high speed rail right-of-way and nuclear waste disposal sites. He is also a regular writer on pedagogy, especially teaching in professional education, and co-edited the "Curriculum and Case Notes" section of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. Between faculty appointments at the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, he was director of policy analysis at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs. He has had visiting appointments at Università Bocconi in Milan and the National University of Singapore and teaches regularly in the Goldman School's executive (mid-career) programs. At GSPP, O'Hare has taught a studio course in Program and Policy Design, Arts and Cultural Policy, Public Management, the pedagogy course for graduate student instructors, Quantitative Methods, Environmental Policy, and the introduction to public policy for its undergraduate minor, which he supervises. Generally, he considers himself the school's resident expert in any subject in which there is no such thing as real expertise (a recent project concerned the governance and design of California county fairs), but is secure in the distinction of being the only faculty member with a metal lathe in his basement and a 4×5 Ebony view camera. At the moment, he would rather be making something with his hands than writing this blurb.