Disasters are growing in frequency and severity as world civilization treads ever more heavily on the planet. Here’s a glance at some of the more serious recent disasters… and at the end we’ll talk about what could be preventable in the future.
Today is the first anniversary of one of the worst disasters of our lifetime—the tsunami in Japan. It’s reassuring to know that when disaster strikes, people from around the world lend a hand.
Also a year ago this month, a series of 12 earthquakes hit Youngstown, Ohio. These are important for how they were caused… but very minor in terms of severity. Here’s a remarkable time-elapsed film from Japan showing all the earthquakes that hit the world last year, giving a good sense of where the earth’s crust is especially unstable, and where ‘there’s a whole lot of shaking going on.’
… and a short clip of how a 7.2-earthquake must have felt in a Turkish flat last year.
Last year was a record year for tornadoes in the US Midwest…
… until a new record was set this month by another flurry of twisters.
And then there’s genocide. How do you get the world to look at an appalling life-and-death struggle it would rather forget or ignore?
The Internet, of course.
Mass executions in Africa have become a gruesome reality that most people in the West have a hard time reconciling… and try not to dwell on. Case in point: world leaders and international news organizations have long been concerned about the barbarity of an African dictator, Joseph Kony, and his attacks against hundreds of thousands of his countrymen. The atrocities that he and his followers have commited in Uganda include murder, rape, mutilations, and by some accounts even cannibalism.
Most of us never heard of Kony until this month, when Jason Russell produced and posted a video that went viral. It takes a human approach, comparing the life of his own son in America to the horrors experienced by kids in Uganda under the terror of Kony. The film is moving as well as informative.
Coming Together to Watch the World Unravel
We’re blessed to live at a time when we can watch world affairs unfold before our eyes… via TVs, iPads, smartphones, and computer screens. We can see first-hand as humanity unravels one moment, and comes together, united, the next.
This pervading awareness could be the first step toward a new age in which humanity learns to tread lightly and peaceably on the planet. As we witness first-hand our impact on the world, maybe we’ll change our way of being.
But awareness alone won’t get us there. The big step is yet to be taken.
Which Disasters Could We Prevent?
It’s hard to visualize most of the disasters listed above being solved anywhere but in a sci-fi movie. I know of only two exceptions:
First, the 12 small earthquakes in Ohio were caused by oil companies’ “fracking” technique—the high-pressure injection of waste water into the Earth in order to fracture the bedrock and release natural gas. Political aftershocks included a new set of Ohio state regulations to monitor and control pressure and volume at the well sites… perhaps to prevent such earthquakes in the future.
That wouldn’t solve the thousands of large earthquakes that shake up the planet every year, as we saw in that creative Japanese video, but could help avoid destabilization caused by human hands.
Second, those familiar with my writing know I believe that mass executions could be eliminated in the course of a generation, along with other serious economic imbalances. But it would take the adoption of what I call ‘the vitality ratio’ by business, technology, government… and, well, by world society in general. No small order.
I’ve written lots about the vitality ratio elsewhere…
… so for now I need only say that wherever overpopulation is a chronic condition, mass executions will be a gruesome reality.
- US military intervention won’t solve it.
- Humanitarian aid won’t solve it.
- UN intervention won’t solve it.
- Multinational efforts won’t solve it.
- Films like Kony 2012 may set fire to millions of minds and hearts… but they won’t solve the problem.
The only solution will be population control, which is one of several basic cornerstones of the vitality ratio.