It is almost inconceivable how little the world has actually invested in helping the most vulnerable countries be prepared. As we join the people of the Philippines in grieving, and helping them rebuild their shattered lives, we can also rejoice in the lives that were saved by good preparation.
When an 8-storey building collapsed in Bangladesh in April killing more than 1,100 garment workers, the rescue response was agonizingly slow. Canadians watched their TV screens in disbelief as Bangladeshi friends and relatives struggled to move rubble in search of their loved ones -- work that would have fallen into the hands of capable and well-equipped rescue teams in Canada. So one would hope. Canadians should be aware, however, that in an era when all of us are increasingly prone to both natural and man-made disasters, the federal government has discontinued funding to Canada's primary disaster relief agency.
Hurricane Sandy certainly got our attention. Billions of dollars (and counting) in damages. Communities crippled and left in the cold without electricity. Nearly 200 lives lost. Sadly, with the stark realities of climate change and frequency of extreme weather events, this likely won't be the last natural disaster we experience or witness in our lifetime or even this decade. So, what are we to do about that?