The media has become encapsulated with the nuclear crisis in Japan, but why has the coverage on the after effects of the tsunami been so downplayed. If the theories about disaster pornography, or that humans find some sort of sadistic pleasure out of watching destruction unfold, hold true then why are newspapers not filled with both. It seems that double the disaster would be double the pleasure. But yet, all we seem to see are stories on different aspects of the crises, leaks into the ocean, noxious fumes, contaminated cabbages, and the like. So here are a few theories I have:
1. People care more about the present than the past--the nuclear disaster is one occurring in the the here and now, while the tsunami is in the past. Rebuilding is surely already occurring, the wave has come and gone, while the nuclear disaster is still "breaking news." People seem to have a myopia towards most forms of decision-making, why would disaster coverage be no different.
2. People are intrigued by uncertainty that doesn't negatively affect hem--not knowing what will happen next keeps people on the edge of their seats. Who doesn't love a cliffhanger. The obvious addendum has to be that as long as the resulting effects don't have some negative result on them directly.
3. People discount sunk losses--people feel that those losses that you can't get back should become irrelevant. In economics, this notion is known as sunk costs, those expenditures which once you've spent on them you can't get back. Think of buying a car, the down payment you make, you can't get back. This is a bit different then the temporal issue stated above. People just have a harder time placing as much utility on those lives already lost, versus the future expectation of losses. It's a bit of loss aversion, with a twist.
4. Nukes are a human phenomenon whereas tsunamis aren't--people feel that there is more control with regards to nuclear disasters, with that sense of control comes a sense of superiority. People feel that this is something we can and should master. It's almost a sense of romantic humanism, people are rooting for a solution to a human problem. Tsunamis and other weather related phenomenon are viewed more as a black swan, unpredictable and therefore somewhat irrelevant to dwell over.