by James A. Wanliss, Ph.D.
Senior Fellow, The Cornwall Alliance
Author, Resisting the Green Dragon: Dominion, Not Death
. . . . Loss of life due to disasters is quite common on this cursed planet. Much as we may wish it, Earth is no Garden of Eden.
We forget that there are about fifty recorded earthquakes daily
, though most are not as extreme as what happened in Japan. We forget because it is only in relatively wealthy countries that we have the luxury to ignore the harsh reality of natural disasters. Where humans have had the liberty to flourish and exercise dominion, fears of the restless Earth have receded.
Japan is a nation of 130 million people packed densely on several islands with a total land area just about half the size of Texas. And much of this land is mountainous, so most Japanese live in megacities. This Japanese earthquake thus had the potential to be a Sumatra tsunami and Haiti earthquake all rolled into one. Instead all official reports indicate that the death toll will be much lower. So the Japan earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011, while a huge humanitarian disaster, is not on the same scale of human suffering as a Haiti or Sumatra. One can hardly compare.
The reason for this difference in suffering is that wealthy Japan was far better prepared to deal with disaster than Haiti or Sumatra (or Louisiana, for that matter). One must note, however, that the tsunami in Japan was not as powerful as had been in Sumatra. But in general,the Japanese were better prepared because they were able to devote resources to things like strong skyscrapers that rocked and rolled but did not fold like a house of cards filled with stale cigarette smoke. The Haitians and Sumatrans, by comparison, hardly have time to patch holes in the roofs of their shanty towns. In lands of extreme corruption, and poverty, finding the next meal is much more important than building things that last.
Wealth produces health and prosperity, and a healthier environment. It requires a certain amount of liberty to produce this wealth, and a view of the world that places human welfare first. The earthquake that hit Japan today packed a punch nearly 1,000 times more powerful than the one that struck Haiti. As my child and I watched the tsunami I wondered out loud when the global warming crowd would try to get in their kicks. Well, it was not long before we heard the invocation of global warming by BBC News
. They are not the only
ones to go hysterical. In fact, global warming itself has little, if anything, to do with global warming (Just ask Al Gore