Disasters are not natural. We—humanity and society—create them and we can choose to prevent them.
Stating that natural disasters do not exist because humans cause disasters seems insanely provocative. We witness nature ravaging our lives all the time: from a city underwater after a storm roars off the Atlantic to rows of smouldering houses after a wildfire to the dust rising from the ruins after an earthquake.
How could we withstand the 250 mile per hour winds of a tornado, faster than Japan’s bullet trains, or the 2,200ºF temperature of lava, hotter than many potters’ kilns? How would we feel if an “expert” lectured to us that it was not nature’s fault, as we sifted through the few photos salvaged from the pile of debris that was once our home and our life?
Yet even when we cannot keep our infrastructure standing, we can stop people dying, we can protect our most valuable possessions, and we can learn to deal with devastation. The disaster lies not in the forces unleashed by nature, but in the deaths and injuries, the loss of irreplaceable homes and livelihoods, and the failure to support affected people, so that a short-term interruption becomes a long-term recovery nightmare.EHN