As we watch in awe and anticipation the murmuration of the DHS appropriation process; wonder over weather patterns emerging in the mid-Pacific heading toward Birmingham, Nashville, and Boston; consider the fractalizing of Salafist jihadism and complex adaptation of global climate; attempt to calculate the spectral radius of water systems, supply chains, telecommunications and the grid; and worry — at least a bit — about all the hidden interdependencies social, technical, and ecological that seem increasingly predisposed to rear their ugly heads… I offer for your late February consideration (consolation) three threads of good news.
Back to School in Liberia
Thousands of Liberian school children returned to school last week, as several measures designed to facilitate “social distancing” were curtailed. During the second week in February only two new cases of Ebola were reported in Liberia. (During the same period there were a total of 126 new cases in Sierra Leone and Guinea.) Risks continue. Secondary and tertiary effects have been (will be) considerable. Liberia experienced over 3900 deaths from the disease. But outside help combined with amazing courage and community engagement by the local population has turned a corner in Liberia.
No Deaths in West Virginia
Despite what is shown above and what most of us have seen on television, no one died and damage appears to have been modest (given the energy expended) as a result of the amazing CSX train derailment near Mt. Carbon, West Virginia.
Some of this is just random… fractal… luck. Thirty minutes before the derailment, the oil tankers were rolling along the streets and neighborhoods of West Virginia’s largest city. Ice in the Kanawha and nearby streams helped contain the spillage. Time and space can be helpful friends.
But a colleague in West Virginia also reports that CSX, state, local and Coast Guard responders were competent and mostly well-organized. The incident command system actually worked. The McClatchy News Service reports that many of those responding had attended a railway accident training function in October and applied important lessons-learned.
Policy and strategy concerns are abundant, but some specific mitigation and preparedness measures paid off just a bit south of Charleston.
Circle of Peace around Synagogue
Over 1000 Muslims formed a human shield around Oslo’s synagogue on Saturday, offering symbolic protection for the city’s Jewish community and condemning an attack on a synagogue in neighboring Denmark last weekend.
The entire area resonated with chants of “No to anti-Semitism, no to Islamophobia,” Norway’s Muslims formed what they called a ring of peace a week after Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, a Danish-born son of Palestinian immigrants, killed two people at a synagogue and an event promoting free speech in Copenhagen last weekend.
According to an organizer, Zeeshan Abdullah, the event was organised to show that there are more peace loving people than warmongers. “Humanity is one and we are here to demonstrate that, he said in front of a crowd of Muslim immigrants and ethnic Norwegians who filled the small street around Oslo’s only functioning synagogue.
The challenges we face — natural, accidental or intentional — are real. Even our good news can be plenty ambiguous. But to neglect or dismiss the possibility of good is no better risk management than to deny an emerging threat.