Monday, March 14, 2011

We've been warned

The aftermath of the Honshu quake & tsunami is too overwhelming for a blog post.  But it should be a  tragically instructive event. Japan is every bit as technologically advanced as we are, & was much better prepared for quakes. Yet, the nation has been devastated.  Entire towns wiped off the map, uncounted casualties, "quake-proof" nuclear reactors near  meltdown, economic losses beyond calculation. Reports from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant become more alarming every day.

We've been warned. The L.A. & San Fran earthquakes of recent decades; Mt. Saint Helens; Hurricanes Andrew & Katrina; the Mississippi basin floods; environmental disasters such as the BP platform explosion. What if a jet had accidentally taken down one of the Twin Towers & we had no enemy to blame? Add them all up & it still doesn't equal what just happened to Japan.  Japan's national infrastructure - highways, rails, bridges,  building codes, seawalls, power grids, warning systems, disaster education & preparedness, all better than America's.  Oh, but without them it would've been so much worse, hard as it is to imagine.  Our "austerity" attitudes (Heaven forbid we should "redistribute" more rich folks' money) means we'll stay unprepared.

Preparedness is first of all about saving lives. In the seaside towns, the tsunami arrived too quickly for people to escape. The seawalls did nothing.  But in the inland, estuary towns the victims probably were mainly the elderly, the infirm, & the foolish.  Engineers will study which buildings withstood the waves. I noticed in one video a building with an open ground floor parking garage standing up while everything around it was swept away.


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