Monday, August 29, 2011

Crisis Fatigue and Debunking Hurricane Irene

Having had a chance to check in with the world after getting electricity and communications back, I couldn’t help noticing the small number of people who want to debunk Hurricane Irene. It’s understandable that people with crisis fatigue want to put this latest event behind them, but it is premature, at least, to declare the hurricane a non-event while half a million people are still without power (and that’s just in Pennsylvania).

I have always said that debunking is not based on science, and this is especially the case here. You have to disregard both the system of classifying hurricanes, by which Irene was considered a major hurricane, and the view from the satellite, where Irene was one of the largest features on the world’s surface, to say that nothing had happened.

You also have to disregard the human impact to disregard the hurricane. But it was a big enough event to show up in the weekend’s television ratings, and it has had enough of an impact on work and spending to show up in the national economic aggregates for this month when those are released.