Paul Kingsnorth has a brilliant article on what underlies the disproportion in attention between flooding in the Global South and Global North, and what it says about how we see the world:
This imperial narrative morphed, after the death of the Western empires, into the narrative of ‘development’ that we still cleave to today (I recommend this explanation of the process). Now, the world is divided up into ‘developed’ countries and ‘developing’ countries. Developed countries are largely white. Developing countries are largely brown. The latter are assumed to be on an inevitable trajectory that will lead them to converge with the former. When this happens, it will be known as ‘global justice.’ It will mean that everyone finally has access to suburban houses, laptops, antibiotics, cars, Nike shoes and representative democracy.
Those assumptions, I think, are what we are seeing played out in this reportage. When a ‘developing’ country is devastated by a natural disaster, it’s to be expected. When a ‘developed’ country is hit, it’s counter-intuitive; it automatically becomes a crisis. This is the playing out of the Myth of Progress on the world’s front pages. Progress means never having to get flooded. Progress means being insulated from nature. When Progress fails, it’s big news. When the poor die, it’s business as usual. Except that business is starting to look very unusual indeed, more and more of the time. When the media finally, eventually, wakes up to that, what does the world start to look like through its lens?
Well, we shall find out.
The corollary of this is that when the media wakes up the fact that the Global North was never really insulated from nature at all it will be at least as interesting.