Last week, the London airline liquid-bomb threat elevated the Homeland Security Advisory System to red, the Severe Risk of Terrorist Attacks
zone. This week we're back down two stages to Elevated Risk
or yellow. We have Tom Ridge to thank for this graphic innovation (he copyrighted the color-coded alert system
back in 2001).
For now at least, the risk of a worldwide pandemic from the Avian Influenza A (H5N1) virus
has been momentarily retired from active duty: it is, at least temporarily, off the front pages of our newspapers. Only this week, wild swans in Michigan
(one is reminded of Yeats
' "I have looked upon those brilliant creatures/And now my heart is sore") were infected with a strain of the bird flu virus. (Mercifully, it's not the highly pathogenic strain we all fear.) Meanwhile, towns across the globe are gearing up with their own preparations
. . . even if it turns out that it's all China's fault
What we lack is that one Tom Ridge-like bit of inspiration that would lend clarity to these confusing times
. We took our cue not from the LifeSavers color palette that inspired Ridge's terror alerts, but from the magnificently illustrated oeuvre
of a certain John James Audubon (1785-1851). Herewith, one option for Homeland Security. Yes, we know: it's for the birds.
National Bird Flu Alert Poster.
Threat Advisory Pandemic Alert System (TAPAS).
Design by William Drenttel, Jessica Helfand & Geoff Halber.
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