There are disasters. There are megadisasters. And now there are complex megadisasters.
From The Christian Science Monitor: Mega-quakes and mega-disasters: Will US heed wake-up call in Japan?
The crisis in Japan could be considered the first “complex megadisaster” the world has ever seen — a potent combination of natural and technological calamities that might become more common in the future.
A megadisaster is a catastrophe that threatens very quickly to overwhelm an area’s capacity to get people to safety, treat casualties, protect vital infrastructure and control panic or chaos, said Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.
“A complex megadisaster, which is what I’ve been calling the crisis in Japan, is a natural catastrophe overlaid by a technological situation,” Redlener told LiveScience. “You have four catastrophes in Japan: the earthquake, the tsunami, the continuing concerns about the instability of the nuclear power plant at Fukushima, and the humanitarian crisis of having hundreds of thousands of people displaced.”
God have mercy.
Grace and Peace
From the NOAA Center for Tsunami Research — Honshu Tsunami Propagation Animation showing the spread of the March 11 tsunami:
Note how the waves reflect and refract, just like you learned about in high school physics.
Also from NOAA, a plot of the maximum amplitude of the tsunami:
Note the faint gray contours; they represent travel times. It takes over 21 hours for a tsunami to travel from Japan to Chile. The colors represent the maximum amplitudes of the tsunami, showing that the intensity of a tsunami can concentrate in narrow bands, and can vary over fairly short distances.
What can we do?
- Pray — Ask God to show mercy to the people of Japan, that rescuers would have success in locating those in need, that supplies would quickly reach those who need them most, and that the church in Japan and around the world would know how to respond best to the short- and long-term needs of those who are suffering.
- Give — Governments can and will do much to help, but non-government organizations also can play a key role in crises like this. Many Christian organizations are prepared to respond quickly, such as TouchGlobal (a ministry of the Evangelical Free Church of America) and World Vision.
Grace and Peace