Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Unimaginable suffering

As of this writing, more than 50,000 deaths have been reported in the Indian Ocean tsunami tradegy, and that number will no doubt grimly increase. More than one third of the dead are thought to be children. People were killed as far as 10 miles inland and entire islands are thought to have been swamped. This disaster has stopped two civil wars and forced at least some cooperation on the combatents. And the catalysmic repercussions will continue with disease, displacement and starvation.

And as this event grows to rival the most serious natural disasters in history, we are left feeling utterly powerless. It's even disturbing that we didn't cause it (like, say, global warming), because we know we can't even blame ourselves. Mother nature can be a heartless bitch.

But there are a few precautions that we can take.

From the New York Times:
In Japan, a network of fiber-optic sensors records any seismic activity and passes the information to a powerful computer at the Meteorological Agency, which estimates the height, speed and arrival time of any tsunamis and the coastal areas most at risk. Within two minutes of a quake, the agency can sound the alarm.

It turns out, there is an early warning system that tracks tsunamis. Begun in 1965 after a magnitude 9.2 earthquake caused flooding in Alaska, it serves the nations of the Pacific rim. But these are mostly affluent nations who can afford to install and integrate such high tech systems. Will the developed world step in to help prevent another catastrophe? Don't hold your breath.

Here is a harrowing first person account from an American tourist who was injured by the deluge. Note what she has to say about the American embassy's help compared to other countries' embassies.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Joe,

Thanks for the extra info. I also wanted to let you know that I'm checking your site. Seeing as you are so smart and well read. Donny

7:15 AM  
Blogger Joe said...

Donny, I could hear the sarcasm dripping. That's why I laughed so loud I snorted.

1:40 PM  

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