[Letters] Message from Tsunami

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[Letters] Message from Tsunami

Nature’s fury was at work once again on March 11, when a powerful earthquake of 9.0-magnitude hit northeastern Japan, triggering gigantic tsunami waves which shook this mighty nation.

It is well known that Japan is situated on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ which is prone to large scale volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

Due to these geological conditions, the people of Japan are mentally and psychologically always ready to cope with such disasters. Thanks to this awareness of the people and the dexterous handling of the crisis by the government, the loss of life and property from this quake and tsunami was not proportionate to the magnitude of this disaster.

However, more than 7,000 people are feared dead with the toll increasing. This natural disaster has subsequently given way to a man-made disaster; the radiation from the 40-year old Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Situated 240km from Tokyo, the plant has suffered major damage by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami. One by one, four blasts occurred in all its four reactors. This radiation threat cannot be undermined since Japan itself witnessed the biggest ever nuclear disasters in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

This deadly combo of earthquake and tsunami has badly affected the Japanese economy and they are being felt across the globe. Asian share markets nosedived in the aftermath of this crisis. Japan’s multinational entities like Sony, Toyota, Nissan, Honda etc. have had to shut down many of their plants.

All man-made things, like houses, skyscrapers, aircraft, trains, bridges etc., were destroyed by the strong tsunami waves.

But the question is what we have we learnt after witnessing such natural disasters time and again?

In this era of science, can we afford to tamper with nature in order to fulfill our greed? Is nuclear power the most convenient and cheapest way to cater to our energy needs? Is the construction of nuclear power plants tenable with the potential cost to human life? Or should our scientists look for some alternate source to evade such a huge risk? Or should such an element be invented that can neutralize the impact of radioactive radiation on the environment?

Geologists are well aware of the fact that Japan lies on the margins of two adjacent tectonic plates which are constantly in motion. Therefore, tiny earthquakes occur beneath Japan every hour.

It is strange that notwithstanding the impending threat, the people of Japan are forced to live in such vulnerable spots in their “quake proof” buildings. New ways are adopted to make quake proof houses and skyscrapers. But nature refuses to honor any security criteria set by humans.

Hence, the geologists and earth scientists of all countries should carefully study destructive natural calamities like these. Allowing people to live in such areas is not the wisest, durable or reliable way.

As a permanent solution, people of such areas should be rehabilitated to safer places. Scientists and governments should understand that the earth cannot mold itself the way humans want.

Therefore, it’s wise to stay away from such areas in order to minimize loss. Such natural disasters teach mankind to live in peace and harmony and understand each other’s grief and sorrow. Let’s hope that sense will prevail and the way many countries are reviewing their nuclear policy after this disaster (Germany has even closed down some of its reactors), this natural tragedy would help humanity get rid of self-created disasters.

*Letters and commentaries for publication should be addressed “Letters to the Editor.” E-mailed letters should be sent to eopinion@joongang.co.kr.

Tanveer Jafri, a columnist based in India
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