Time to learn from natural disasters


THE earth science researchers have established that the Earth was a big piece of land once upon a time in the long geological timescale. And later that land was separated into different pieces of various shapes, and sizes. The driving force of these newly created chucks of land was controlled by action within the deeper parts of the Earth, much away from our sight. The beautiful land that we call home is one such pieces, and has witnessed its formation, destruction, reconstruction, and modification of its morphology, topography, climate etc. over the geological past. Most of this have occurred when there was no trace of humans. Nature has shaped our home when we were not even conceived. It created landscape that we are proud of; the Himalaya, the Andes, the Alps; a vast network of rivers; the Nile, the Amazon; the beautiful world of oceans; and a huge wealth of mineral treasures. Water, air, hydrocarbons, gold, diamond, iron, and what not.

And what have we done in return.

Nature has distributed everything differently on the Earth. Probably, the motivation was that the people will socialize, and help each other, as they have to depend on each other for various resources. However, most of the people have largely owned the nature’s various treasures, and exploited the most of it. This is done because some people think that they are more important than the others. This practice has largely divided the whole planet into rich, and poor sections. And terms like 1st, and 3rd world countries have emerged out of it. The wealthy, poor, powerful, powerless status have occupied our minds, and this has divided the entire humanity into groups, and folks, who are constantly struggling to maintain the status. Thus the fault zones have been established because the powerful wishes to remain so, no matter what. Greed, ego, and power have fueled such divisions, and continues to do so. This leads to conflicts, wars etc.

I personally think that nature tries to unite the divided people through natural calamities, and history tells us that such people are friendly during disasters. The Muzafarabad earthquake of 2005, and Afghanistan earthquake of 2015 have united people across the borders, particularly India, and Pakistan who have a history of animosity. Same was witnessed when floods occurred in India, and Pakistan.

Geological data suggests that natural disasters often cross political boundaries. The recent devastation in Muzafarabad was caused by a major earthquake of 2005, and the earthquake waves shook many parts of the world, and particular India, China, Afghanistan, Nepal etc. Similarly during the recent Nepal (2014), and Afghanistan (2015) earthquakes the shaking was felt across the political boundaries. And the effects were more pronounced on neighboring regions.

Earthquake data show that major faults zones (called megathrusts) run along, and across the political, cultural, or linguistic boundaries. On the 26 December 2004, ~1600 km long portiona major fault ruptured, and caused a magnitude 9.2 earthquake along with the destructive Indian-ocean tsunami. This megathrust runs south from Bangladesh, curving around the western and southern flanks of Sumatra, Java, Bali and eastern Indonesia to northwestern Australia, which stretches to a distance of about 5,500 km. Similarly there are examples of megathrusts offshore of the Philippines, Taiwan, Japan and southeastern China. The megathrusts also exist on land and the biggest one traverses Pakistan through India and Nepal, covering a distance of 2,500 km along the southern side of the Himalayan mountain range. It was responsible for the recent Nepal earthquake, and a number of other destructive earthquakes in the past.

God, and natural hazards

When a believer falls sick he rushes to doctor for treatment, and when an earthquake hits why it is largely considered an incurable punishment from God. Just like any other small or big disaster that the Earth faces earthquake disaster is also a problem that requires a solution. And unlike other problems it greatly affects life, and structures across the spectrum of race, religion, culture etc. There is not a single example on the Earth that suggests only a particular section of life was affected by earthquakes. Thus, the distribution of earthquakes on the Earth doesn’t follow a political, cultural or a religious establishments. These are almost everywhere, and mostly where two tectonic plates meet. Pakistani, Indian, African, Chinese, American, Indonesians, French etc., all nations, with diverse backgrounds, face natural disasters, and with different intensities.

Everyday earthquakes of various sizes occur in oceans, and nothing happens there. This is because earthquakes don’t kill people but structures do. Are fishes bad, and God wants to punish them? Obviously, not. Look at the distribution of earthquakes on the global earthquake map (Figure). The red dots are earthquakes. And does this mean that God hates people from Nepal, Pakistan, Indonesia, Japan, Chile, New Guinea etc.

Another important thing to mention here is that the earthquakes have a longer history on the planet Earth than human beings!

And women are NOT responsible for moving tectonic plates. So don’t blame them! 

I will blame mostly men, because construction works are dominantly controlled by men. And by constructing poor quality buildings via corruption they are directly responsible for the casualties, caused by failure of poor quality structures during earthquakes.

It seems that it is hard to understand the behavior of seismogenic faults without having a strong collaboration with various nations. Similar is the case with floods or cyclones as such disasters occur across political or cultural establishments. Thus to fight any natural disasters one should unite, and work as a team.

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