Friday, March 11, 2011

Creating floods in a world of tsunamis

Unlike most disasters in our time, the tsunami in Japan was neither related to fake liberalism, nor to climate change. Yet it gives us a lot of food for thought, when comntemplating the world we've set to change.
Terrible Tsunami

Earth quakes and tsunamis have existed since before mankind existed. They are a part of this world, which is something we should bear in mind. This world is getting hotter, and when we change the temperature in the atmosphere, we do not add an unknown number of natural disasters to a tabula rasa - we add the catastrophes that we have created to the one's that were there before us.

Reading the news from Japan tonight, one might feel that latter ones are more than enough. Through climate change, we create an awesome potential of an earth quake like this, and floods like in Paktisan simultaneously. Stocks fell in the US on the news form Japan, earing that widespread destrrucion will have ramifications for the world economy. From where will we take the cash to rebuild houses after disasters like that in the future?

Writing from another highly developed country, it is in many wasy easier to relate toa disaster in Japan, than one in Pakistan, simply because the infrastructure in Japan is more like the one I live in. As climatic conditions deteriorate, the disaster we now read about in Al Jazeera, will become the new normal also in the rich world. Japan offers a glimps of what that might look like.

No country could be better prepared to cope with an earthquake, and no country have better economic means to deal with a disaster.  The ease or pain with which Japan raises after this disaster will tell us a lot about our own vulnerability, and hopefully it will be a case study to learn from.

But Japan is not a typical rich country. If our economic thories were valid, Japan should be a very poor country. On both sides of the atlantic politicans have been sacrificing social welfare and democratic rights for one fundamental goal - Economic growth. Japan on the other hand have, forced by circumstances live through an entire decade without growth. Which obviously hasn't ruined the country.

That does not make Japan a perfect example of a sustainable civilisation - the country is struggling to bring down its co2 emissions, but it does prove one thing - that growth and wealth are not the same thing. Japan has no economic growth. But it does have the wealth to deal with a massive earthquake. Which is all that counts in the end.

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