TSUNAMI and RESPONSIBILITY

OUTLINE and KEY PHRASES and CONCEPTS


  • a - Ashamed
  • b - Monday Morning Quarterbacking
  • c - I told you so
  • d - American Lives and Values vs Others
  • e - hubris
  • f - Tourism
  • g - Global war - m/n/r - ing
  • h - Someone Calling in the Desert
  • i - Sociology
  • j - Terrorism
  • k - Predictability, Early Warning
  • l - Politics, UN, Donations
  • m - Natural and Environmental Hazards
  • n - Coastal Zone Management
  • o - Emergency Management
  • p - Insurance
  • q - EDUCATION
  • r - Millersville ESCI: BLO & CKS: CCS and EHEM, 1995
  • s - Millersville,Sociology: HF: Disaster Center, 2003; U.S. News ...
  • t - WWW, Links, Communications, Technology
  • u - Meteorology, weather forecasts (MU)
  • v - Ring of Fire, Plate Tectonics
  • w - Hawaii, Caribbean, Far East Beaches
  • x - "A Tsunami can hit anywhere anytime"
  • y - Responsibility is not pro-active enough
  • z - UNITED NATIONS rather than just United States
This is a true story.
This morning I sat down to write my ideas about the recent tsunami: Christmas 2004.
I started off making a list of items that came to mind, which happened to be 26 in number.
Indeed, it started with the letter "a", but I might have started with the cop-out "awareness" instead of the admission "ashamed".
But I am ashamed of having been aware and yet having failed as a scientist, educator and communicator
For I know that item "x" in the list is just hype and passing the buck:
Earthquakes and tsunami are predictable natural phenomena, ranking just behind tides.
Similarly, coasts are most desirable and vulnerable natural environments

Right after the 1960's plate tectonics revolution, I worked in Japan and Hawaii
and was impressed with their early warning system for tsunami based on seismic and sealevel records.
In the 1970's, I learned and taught the importance of environmental awareness and the need for
education about such issues as marine pollution and shoreline protection viz-a-viz tourism and development
In the 1980's, I got more involved in international cooperation and use of computers.
In the 1990's, I emphasized the clear link between Coastal Area Management and Natural Hazards and
added Emergency Preparedness and use of the World Wide Web to my arsenal.
I also took Charlie Scharnberger's change from "Natural Hazards" to "Environmental Hazards" to heart,
adding loads of extra work just taking into account man's (usually deleterious) influence on "Nature"
Then, in the early 2000's, I realized the importance of social issues, conscience, causes of terrorism,
as well as dangers of hubris and I felt our failure in education and communication.

"Yes, I told you so", I replied this morning when my wife said that the number of victims now exceeded 60,000.
"When they were at 6,000, I told you it was going to be at least 10 times as much!"
And I sympathized with the Dutch fellow of the UN who is in charge of humanitarian aid and emergency planning
and his accusation (?) that we in the USA spent less than one percent instead of the biblical 10%

So who is responsible? Or is that word not strong enough, since it implies a previous action to which a response is made?
Thus, (pre - rather than re-) prediction, planning and probability stand out - as much as (presidential) politics
Insurance companies come to mind- I recall being impressed with their attendance at the First Caribbean Conference on Natural Hazards.
Yet, insurance relies on relative wealth, and I doubt that even 1% of the recent victims carried any.
Thus, social responsibility, perhaps "tainted" by commercial aspects of tourism
(I also doubt that more than 1% of the victims ever had the time, money or desire to be tourists)

So, if we, Americans - few in number but squandering disproportionately much monetary and global resources -
want to play a leading role in ridding the world of terrorism
(another environmental hazard inasfar the word "environment" may be supposed to include social issues
as many prospective grant-writers opined when President Nixon established EPA)

we should jump at this opportunity to contribute more than just relief and reconstruction funds,
and take a leading role in international cooperation,environmental education and effective emergency management;
specifically including the immediate establishment of global early warning networks for environmental hazards.
Not just by ourselves, but using the existing framework of the United Nations
And may God save us from more hubris!
BLO fecit 20041229 - Supplementary Note, Jan.3, 2005