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