Home Preparedness Natural Disasters--That which we must not forget

Natural Disasters--That which we must not forget


We citizens of Spaceship Earth have proven remarkably effective at trying to destroy ourselves. Witness:

  • The development of nuclear weapons
  • Unrestricted and unrestrained pollution for the supposed economic good
  • Oligarchy--the unwillingness to share the Earth's riches humankind-wide, instead favoring the idea of concentrating wealth within a few individuals--who don't particularly have humankind's best interests in mind
  • Stupidity--one wag noted: 'The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity'--and for some reason, we have decided that hydrogen is irrelevant and stupidity can be honorable, if it supports the effort to concentrate wealth in a few select individuals. We're working on educating world citizens to recognize that that's what's happening. So far, reviews are mixed.

But as entertaining as this scenario is, we run the risk of ignoring the non-human inputs that threaten our survival. In the past week, numerous earthquakes have occurred throughout the Pacific Rim that are equivalent to that which killed more than a quarter of a million people on Christmas Eve of 2004--and the valid questions are these:

  • Do you as an emergency manager still remember that this happened?
  • If you are along a coast of the US, have you altered your mitigation and response plan to deal with the lessons learned from this incident?
  • If you are not along the coast, have you evaluated similar threats that could cause the same destruction, and formulated a plan to deal with what you found?

So here's the point: DON'T get so wrapped up in human-caused disasters that you forget natural disasters; and DON'T get so involved in natural disasters that you forget human-caused disasters. As I tell my classes: 'Awareness is 24/7 or not at all.' I would amend that here to say: 'Awareness encompasses all threats at all times, or not at all.' So if you're wearing blinders, take them off.

Randall Cuthbert Dr. Randall Cuthbert is a retired APUS Professor of Emergency & Disaster Management. He has also worked as a Red Cross Shelter Supervisor, and spent a 20-year career as a US Air Force Civil Engineer Officer. His blogging interests include: protecting & enhancing the EDM profession in the areas of integrity, honorable public service, and social justice; education regarding the 'big picture' role of EDM in our society; educating our professionals and neighbors with regard to the greatest threat to our civilization--climate change; and in general terms, creating a better world for our children and grandchildren.