Complex megadisasters

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

HT: Geology News

Earthquake theology

With today’s massive earthquake in Chile, and last month’s deadly tremor in Haiti, I have a few questions for your theological pondering:

  1. Are earthquakes part of God’s good creation, or did they commence with the human fall into sin?
  2. Are earthquakes good or evil? (or neutral?)
  3. Is God glorified in any way by earthquakes?
  4. Are earthquakes part of God’s judgment on sin?
  5. Will the new Earth have earthquakes?

I have my thoughts on these, but I’d be interested in some comments first.

Father, I pray for those in Chile who are suffering in many ways as a result of today’s earthquake. I pray that those who have lost loved ones would be comforted. I pray that those who are injured would get the necessary medical attention. I pray for rescuers to find those who need rescuing. I pray for a quick restoration of essential services, such as water and electricity. I pray for good leadership from the government at all levels. I pray for rich generosity from many people around the world. And I pray that there would be people who would turn from the uncertain things of this world to the savior, Jesus Christ our Lord. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Grace and Peace

Lessons from Haiti

Christian geologist Charles Carrigan has written an article about the earthquake in Haiti on the Olivet Nazarene University’s blog: Guest Feature: Tragedy and geology in the recent Haiti earthquake.

Some of my thoughts after reading this (not all directly related to what Carrigan wrote about):

  • Earthquakes do not have to kill. The 2010 Haiti earthquake had a magnitude of 7.0, and the death toll is now estimated to be in the 150,000 to 200,000 range. The death toll in the 2001 Puget Sound earthquake in Washington (magnitude 6.8) was zero.
  • The difference is largely building codes. Rich countries can build earthquake-resistant structures (I wouldn’t say “earthquake-proof”); poor countries cannot.
  • 25,000 children die per day of poverty-related causes. This is a tragedy of Haitian proportions every week.
  • Christians working in the Earth sciences can play a role in disaster relief and in longer-term community development work among the poor of the world.

Carrigan highlights the role that Earth scientists have in making the world a better place:

There are some things about the Earth that we cannot change. There will always be earthquakes in seismically active zones, and some of them will be very large. Geology can tell us where they are likely to occur, but of course cannot predict them perfectly. We can only make ourselves aware of the risks that nature at times presents to us, and work to protect ourselves and our neighbors accordingly.

Unfortunately, many of our neighbors in lesser developed nations do not have this information, and may not have the means to do what is necessary to protect themselves even if they did. Beyond earthquakes, many other natural disasters represent risk to ever-increasing human populations, and many also lack access to basic necessities such as clean water and other natural resources. There remains incredible opportunity for professionals in geology and related scientific fields to use their skills to impact the world for the betterment of all people.

Grace and Peace