Thinking of Japan...

The 11th March was the one-year anniversary of the Japanese Tsunami. In honour of the wonderful people of Japan, I will post photos of some of the beautiful and crazy Japanese people I have met on my journey - all of whom luckily are okay.

The Tsunami was caused by a magnitude 9.0 undersea megathrust earthquake off the coast of Japan - one of the five most powerful earthquakes in recorded history. The earthquake moved Honshu, the main island of Japan, by 2.4 metres and shifted the Earth on its axis by 10-25 cm. The tsunami reached a height of up to 40.5 m and inundated a total area of 561 square km. It was also the cause of a level 7 meltdown of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant - the only other such incident being the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

There are 15,850 confirmed deaths and 6,011 injured and 3,287 people still missing. 92.5% of people are reported to have died from drowning, whilst the remainder died from crushing, internal injuries or burns. There were also many people who died after the tsunami as a complication of injuries, subsequent living conditions or nuclear exposure.

Well over 125,000 buildings were destroyed or damaged. People, cars, airplanes and buildings were simply washed away. Many people lost everything they had. 340,000 people were displaced and, one year on, 90% of people are still living in temporary housing. The World Bank has estimated the economic cost of the earthquake at US$235 billion.

Seeing all the scenes and statistics play over on the news got me thinking. I started thinking about the current floods in eastern Australia, where thousands of homes have been flooded and thousands of people have become displaced. This seems to be happening more and more frequently. Last year, the north-east of Australia experienced enormous floods and a complete devastation of the area. With around US$6 billion of damage, the Australian government introduced a Flood Levy Tax to help support those affected.

I started thinking about all the hurricanes, tornadoes and droughts around the world – for example, Hurricane Katrina with US$108 billion damage. I thought about the rising sea-level and how this would result in more destructive tsunamis. I started thinking about the serious food shortages and the increased farming difficulties globally. And I started thinking about climate change.

There still remain a large number of people who irresponsibly deny the phenomena of global warming and climate change. Politicians and wealthy businessmen downplay the effects on our planet (perhaps because it's convenient for their wallets to do so) and disrepute the strong evidence and science that exists to prove otherwise. Unfortunately, these selfish so-called leaders have a louder voice than those who speak logic, reason and compassion.

Natural disasters are becoming a more frequent and costly occurrence all over the world. The human cost is obvious and without price, but the material cost is measured in dollars. Australia is about to introduce a Carbon Tax which is designed to combat climate change and of course many people are complaining. They are only thinking about their pockets and the here-and-now. They don’t care about the future of the planet and their own children on it, and they don’t care about anything beyond their time on Earth.

They don’t realise that even if there was no Carbon Tax, they will still probably pay for the relief of climate change, but in the form of higher taxation, increased insurance premiums, higher prices of consumer goods, etc. Isn't it better to pay in advance and try to actually prevent disasters?

I don't know if Australia’s Carbon Tax is the most effective way to reduce stress on our planet, but at least the government is doing something. I keep thinking of that $235 billion spent to clean up Japan and I wonder how that money could be better spent (if the tsunami didn't happen): creating clean energy sources, sustainable living technology, research, farming, agriculture, sanitation and maybe just feeding people and providing them with drinking water.

Unfortunately there is no tax that forces people to pay a little perspective.

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