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Friday, January 07, 2005
A question came up about the devastating
tsunami in the Idian ocean last week:
nWhat lesson is there in this?

For one, the implementation of an early warning
system like that which exists in the Pacific
Ocean would be a good idea, and the excuse that
tsunamis haven't occurred in the Indian Ocean
since the 1880's is ridiculous:
120 years is a droplet in geologic time.

Since 1965, the United States and 25 other
nations have cooperated in using a system of
seismic and tidal monitoring statios around the
Pacific Basin to evaluate the potential is high,
members are warned.

But even this system is imperfect. Sice 1990,
the U.S. reports, more 4,000 people have been killed
in tsuamis, including 2,200 in Papua New Guinea in 1998.

Like other natural calamities, a tsunami is impartial.
it is a true sea monster, something that in the open
sea can travel almost udetected like a viper in tall
grass, and then near shore it rises, leviathan like in
an instant to overwhelm whatever it stands before it.

A rule of thumb in tsuamis:


Nature observes only the laws of physics. If a
tectonic plate moves, there is going to be an earthquake.
If pressure mounts inside a volcano, it has to find a
way out. If the atmospheric stew is right, there will
be a hurricane.

The earth is a giant system governed by these laws,
and their effect often are devastating.

Opening the pages of the almanac and sampling the sections under "disasters" attest to this:

** 526, earthquake, Antioch, Syria: 300,000 dead.

** 1290, earthquakes, Chihli, Chia: 100,000 dead

** 1556, earthqauke, Shaanxi., Chia: 830,000 dead.

** 1642, flood, China: 900,000 dead.

** 1737, earthquake, India: 300,000 dead.

** 1931, flood, Chia: 3.7 million dead.

** 1970, cyclone, Bangladesh: 300,000 dead.

There was no wilfullness involved in these terrible
tolls, and they at least reflect a demographic principle:
The laws apply to everyone.

Humans are less generous.

History abounds with case of political or religious
violence of ghastly magnitude. I the 20th century alone,
millions have died at the willful hands of others:

** 1930, Stalin's purges is the Soviet Union:
700,000 - 1.3 million dead.

** 1932-33, Stali's starvation of Ukraine:
7 million dead.

** 1937-38, Japan's Rape of Nanjing in China:
370,000 dead.

** 1940's, Nazi murder of Jews:
6 milion dead.

** 1970's, Pol Pot's "killing fields" of Cambodia:
1.7 million dead.

** 1994, Rwanda's ethnic massacres:
800,000 dead.

No recitation of numbers can mitigate the sorrow
over the current disaster: Death is absolute, and so is grief.

The effects of the staggering toll in south asia no
doubt will be felt in the region for years. The
nations of the world must do all possible to help.

But nature is inexorable, ad there will be more catastrophes.
This planet is ever changing. Perhaps the tolls will be lower;
yet lives still will be lost. Those of us who remain might whisper to ourselves:
"There but fot the grace of God go I."

On sunny days, it is easy to romanticize nature; odssys
like those the world has witnessed, this past week, it is not.

(Abstracted from CHICAGOTRIB by Scot M. Fincher)

posted by infraternam meam @ 1:08 AM  
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Name: infraternam meam
Home: Chicago, United States
About Me: I am now at the prime of my life and have been married for the past 25 years. Sickly at times, but wants to see the elixir vita, so that I will be able to see my grandchildren from my two boys.
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