Saturday, October 29, 2005

Disaster

Several weeks ago, FEMA was mocked on American television for the Disaster Lifecycle graphic on its website (see Alexoid and Presentation Zen).


via Presentation Zen

Amazingly, the graphic is still there. (http://www.fema.gov/about/what.shtm) This graphic appears to show a positive feedback loop, in which the efforts of FEMA merely cause more disaster. (People in New Orleans might regard that as accurate.)

The text hints at an alternative understanding of the graphic as a negative feedback loop. (So why call it a lifecycle?) But this would lead to an equally uncomfortable interpretation for FEMA - that it needs disasters in order to drive the disaster reduction programme, since over-successful disaster management might result in a loss of energy and will - that the purpose of FEMA is to maintain a (homeostatic) steady-state of disaster rather than total elimination.

Jon Stewart of Comedy Central summarizes thus: "In truth, FEMA did exactly what they said they were going to do."

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