eyes over Baghdad

A week ago NASA’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer satellite was flying over Baghdad (I don’t know off hand if ASTER is frequently over the mideast or if it has been tasked by the military). It took this image of Baghdad:

Click here for a larger (400k) JPEG version or follow this link to the full sized (2.5MB) JPEG.

From JPL’s ASTER website:

“The plumes, which originate along major roads and canals, are believed to be burning pools of oil from pipelines. The plumes, which blanket large sections of the city of approximately 5 million, are creating an environmental health hazard for residents of the city and surrounding regions.”

This seems like a good example of the many deadly outcomes of war that can’t be easily reported on because the deaths don’t easily abide by the Who What When Where journalistic format. How many will die because of these clouds? How long will it take to happen? Will it be possible, when the deaths do occur, to tease out to what extent those deaths were the result of inhalation of burning petroleum during Gulf War 2 vs. some other environmental source? Who knows, but people will die from it. You and I will never know who they are.

I hope Saddam and Bush share a 1st class compartment on the train to hell. Except of course, that Saddam probably shares with Bush the characteristic of being only the most visible man of a whole awful system, and there really aren’t enough 1st class compartments for all of the people who would have to fit in that train.

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