Nature’s fury was at work once again on 11th March when a powerful earthquake of 9 magnitude hit the North-eastern Japan, triggering gigantic Tsunami waves which shook this mighty nation. This earthquake is said to be one of the five most powerful earthquakes the world has ever witnessed. This earthquake was so powerful it moved the Japanese coast by 8 meters and shifted the Earth’s axis. It is well known that Japan is situated on the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire’ (margin of the Pacific tectonic plate are called) 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 dexterous handling of crisis by the government, the loss of life and property by this quake and tsunami was not proportionate to the magnitude of this disaster.
However, more than 7000 people are feared dead with toll increasing. This natural disaster has subsequently given way to a man-made disaster in the form of looming radiation threat from the 40-years old Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Situated 240-km 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. Twenty kilometers of area around the plant has been evacuated due to probable radiation threat. Feared by contamination, many countries have stopped importing food items from Japan. This radiation threat cannot be undermined since Japan itself is witness to the biggest ever nuclear disasters of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This deadly combo of earthquake and tsunami has badly affected the Japanese economy. Economic impacts of the disaster 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 to shut down many of their plants. The city of Sendai in the north-eastern Japan has been razed to the ground by the giant tsunami waves of over 30 feet. All man made stuff like houses, skyscrapers, aircraft, trains, bridges etc. were blown away by the strong tsunami waves.
Over half a million people are rendered homeless, who are forced to take refuge in schools and other public buildings which withstood the shock. Here they are facing problems of severe cold and lack of food and potable water. Many ports, power plants and oil refineries are closed down. One oil storage facility even caught fire after the earthquake. The whole world has provided a helping hand to Japan in this hour of crisis. As always, America is in the forefront in relief works. It is hoped that the intelligent people of Japan with the use of their progressive science and technology, will soon overcome this tragedy and successfully turnaround their economy.
But the question is what we have learnt after witnessing such natural disasters time and again? In this era of science, can we afford to temper with the nature in order to fulfill our greed? Is nuclear power the most convenient and cheapest way to cater to our energy needs? Is their construction tenable at the cost of human lives? Or our scientists should look out for some alternate source to evade such a huge risk? Or such an element should be invented which can neutralize the impact of radioactive radiation on the environment?
Japan’s geographic location is also a source of concern. 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 on such vulnerable spots in their “quake proof” buildings. New ways are adopted to make quake proof houses and skyscrapers. But nature refuses to honour any security criteria set by the humans. It cannot be predicted when these areas will again witness such a disastrous earthquake or tsunami. It is to remember that the tsunami of 2004 which mainly affected Indonesia was of greater force than this one. The height of those waves was about 80 feet which destroyed many small islands on its way. India was also affected by that tsunami. China has also witnessed many disastrous earthquakes.
Hence, the geologists and earth scientists of all countries should carefully study the destructive natural calamities like these. Allowing people to live in such areas is not the wisest, durable and reliable way. As 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 human wants. Therefore, it’s wise to stay away from such areas in order to minimize loss. Such natural disasters teach the 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 the humanity get rid of self-created disasters.