Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Japanese Tragedy

We have been witnessing a disaster of biblical proportions. The earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia and Thailand a while back were terribly destructive. Then Hurricane Katrina wiped out a large portion of an American city. Later the earthquake in Haiti destroyed a large portion of a country. More recently there were significant earthquakes in Chile and in New Zealand. Now we’ve seen a triple threat in Japan: an unbelievably severe earthquake, a terrible tsunami that did more damage than the earthquake, and now the nuclear threat from multiple power plants.

Earlier I said this was a disaster of biblical proportions, but I don’t mean to imply that this tragedy is God’s punishment of the Japanese. We live on planet earth and are subject to the laws of nature. We are affected by such things as weather patterns, El NiƱo, shifting tectonic plates, volcanic eruptions, sun spots, tornados, etc. These just happen because of the way the earth is constructed.

The effects of these natural phenomena are made worse by human error, stupidity, and sin. While the Japanese are well-prepared for earthquakes, living on earthquake-prone islands along the “Ring of Fire”, they weren’t as prepared for such a large tsunami. Their seawalls were breached by the 30+ foot wall of water. Their nuclear plants appear to have been built right on the ocean, close to sea level, so the plants would be vulnerable to any tsunami. It was the wall of water that rendered the two backup systems unusable, not the earthquake itself.

The local residents will hopefully not have to pay for the shortsightedness of the designers of these nuclear power plants. Let’s hope we’ve all learned lessons from this tragedy, and will take actions to upgrade nuclear power plants to withstand whatever risks there might be in the plant’s location.

Let’s pray that these at-risk Japanese power plants will be able to be cooled adequately and safely shut down, and that further disaster can be averted. Let’s also pray for the thousands who are homeless, those who are now without jobs, those who have lost loved ones, the brave plant workers whose lives are at risk, and the safety of those involved in relief efforts. Pray that such a tragedy will not happen here in the U.S., since we have significant potential for major earthquakes on the West Coast (mainly the San Andreas Fault) and in the middle of the country (the New Madrid Fault).

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