Japan was punched by a pair of knockers barely three weeks ago. China is still rebuilding Sichuan after the 2008 earthquake. Haiti will require decades to rebuild its destroyed cities and infrastructure. New Orleans still hasn’t repopulated since the arrival of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Indonesia is still traumatized by the 2004 tsunami. The list could go on and on.
For example, imagine a forest where no disturbance occurs; no forest fire, no earthquake, no falling trees. After a period of time, there will only be two species of plant left; the one that is tall enough to reach the sunlight, and the one that requires little sunlight for survival. Well, it certainly makes life a little bit boring for biologists.
|Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in the year 2005. Image: digitalmeetingcenter.com|
Yet social inertia is not the only reason we still live in dangerous places. As aesthetically tuned creatures, we crave dramatic landscapes forged by catastrophe-the beautifully carved Niagara Falls for instance. Mount Saint Helens almost certainly has more visitors now than before it blew its top. Not to mention the Toba Lake in Indonesia, formed after the mega volcano blew up several hundred-thousand years ago.
I certainly don't mean that the Sendai earthquake or the Christchurch earthquake will be celebrated in the future. They are more than intermediate disturbances—they are real disasters.