Two weeks ago, 90 percent of the planet could not find Haiti on the map. Two weeks from now, 90 percent of the planet will have forgotten her. Two weeks ago, mothers were feeding their children biscuits made from dirt and cooking oil. Laying them to sleep onto bed-bug infested mats and tattered blankets. The make shift houses, constructed of piled cinder blocks, corrugated steel scrap and whatever else they could scavenge, provided some shelter from the harsh tropical rain but not from the swarms of mosquitoes carrying Dengue Fever, a deadly menace where their only defense is the acrid smoke of burning garbage that hung ever present in the hot, humid tropical air. Two weeks from now, I can only hope, that they will have that much as the news cycle will have passed her by. And the world will turn its attention elsewhere. And then with out warning, somewhere else, the people who have the least will be beset by another truly horrific occurrence. And the world will come rushing in and slowly fade away. Again. And again.
First and foremost, my thoughts along with millions of others are with the people of Samoa, American Samoa and Indonesia who have been affected by the 2 earthquakes which occurred in the last 12 hours. Hopefully a fast response by international relief agencies will minimize the effects of these tragedies along with the devastation from the recent typhoon in the Philippines.
Current scientific consensus holds that in our solar system, only the Earth is geologically unstable. As far as I know, it is also the only planet where oil is actively being pumped out of the ground in ever increasing quantities from ever increasing depths. Earthquakes occur when opposing plates that make up the Earth’s crust slip as they are squeezed up against each other. The number of seismic incidents is increasing on a year over year basis. Is there an 800 lb gorilla in the room that is being ignored?
I am not a geologist (though I lived with one for 5 years during college) but I have to ask the question; does removing ever increasing amounts of a non-self-replenishing, non-evaporating, non-compressible and viscous fluid located inside, below and between these plates effect the overall tectonic system? I don’t know if the crude oil functions as a lubricant, a shock-absorber or simply a space occupier propping up the Earth’s crust but the engineer inside me has to hypothesize that there must be some systemic consequences to its removal.
It is thoughts like this that can make you nostalgic for a simpler time when all we had to think about were things like melting polar ice caps and a hole in the ozone layer.