Stories tagged Netherlands

Feb
04
2008

The Netherlands has a long history of flooding – over half the country is below sea level – and during the North Sea flood of 1953, nearly 2,000 Dutch lost their lives in a flood after sea water breached several dikes and water poured into unsuspecting villages during the night of February 1, 1953. Even before this particular natural disaster, the Dutch had been dealing with the problems of living in a low-lying area, and in the 1950’s embarked on a massive civil-engineering project called Delta Works.

Delta Works is a network of dams, sluices, locks, dikes, and storm surge barriers that are set up to protect the Netherlands from future flooding. The work is incredibly vast, and was completed in 1997 when the Maeslantkering (the largest moving structure on Earth) was completed.

But now, the Netherlands faces another problem – global warming – and the associated risk of increased winter rain in Europe, according to the climate-change models. That will bring high water to the Meuse and Rhine rivers that flow into Holland. The strategy is now different. Instead of the historic approach of raising the heights of the dikes to contain the rivers, the Netherlands is going to lower some dikes to allow flooding in certain areas of the country to relieve pressure in others. So instead of keeping the water out, they are allowing the water, to a certain extent, go where it wants. The plan, called “Room for the River”, was featured in a recent NPR story. The story includes a cool feature that shows the impact of climate change on low-lying regions around the world.

Jun
03
2007

I have always been a strong proponent of lies and lying. Ask any one of my wives, and they will tell you the same thing.

Sure, lies for personal gain are my favorite, but I’ll lie out of spite, to avoid embarrassment, or just to keep myself in practice. Ask my lying coach, and he’ll tell you the same thing. Just kidding – I don’t have a lying coach. Or do I?
Reality TV?: The Dutch kidney-donation program was revealed to be a hoax. (photo by Jeff Kubina)
Reality TV?: The Dutch kidney-donation program was revealed to be a hoax. (photo by Jeff Kubina)

Anyhow, I think it’s because of this lifelong habit of mine that this little story caught my eyes and ears: A week or two ago, I heard a short story on public radio about a controversial reality show that was being advertised in the Netherlands. The premise of the show was that a terminally ill woman would be choosing one of several contestants to donate one of her kidneys to. The program was being developed by the creators of the Big Brother series, and had been accused of being in bad taste (and then some).

On Friday, however, shortly before the show was scheduled to air, it was revealed to have been a hoax meant to draw attention to the shortage of organ donors. In the Netherlands alone, over 200 people die each year while waiting for a kidney transplant. That’s equal to the entire population of Luxembourg (or is it?).

A very serious issue is being addressed here, but was this the right way to gain public attention? The perpetrators of the hoax were perhaps right in thinking that the average person cares more about what’s happening on reality TV than they do about organ donation (and who can blame us? ANTM is fantastic!), but was this going too far, being too insensitive?

Anybody have any strong feelings on the subject?

An article about the hoax.