Bad things that happened today

There’s been a lot of adverse comment on Twitter that the 10 deaths and widespread property damage in the United States have attracted infinitely more media coverage – including in Australia – than the 60-odd who’ve died across the Carribean.

I get the point, but, guess what? If we’re going to get outraged about selective media attention on the world’s problems, here’s some other things that happened today:

  • Nearly 7,000 people – 4,000-odd of them children under 5, died from complications of diarrhea. The vast majority of those children could have been saved by simple, cheap oral rehydration therapy and clean water supplies.
  • 4,500 died from AIDS, including 630-odd children under 15.
  • Indoor air pollution, much of it caused by cooking stoves, killed 5,500, of whom 2,750 were under 5. Outdoor air pollution killed about 3,500.
  • Australians died prematurely due to the health effects of smoking. Globally, about 14,000 people died as a result of smoking, today
  • While numbers of course vary depending on who’s counting, at the moment it seems that roughly 140 people are dying every day in the Syrian civil war.
  • Roughly 80 Americans die every day in car accidents.

So, be outraged about the media’s selective attention to the death and destruction wrought by no-longer-a-hurricane-Sandy, if you must. But keep in mind the selectivity and arbitrariness of your own attention.

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