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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Thursday, December 30, 2004


The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article today about government management of the risk of tsunamis. Apparently, Pacific Ocean Rim nations because of frequent catastrophes are well organized in both developing and sustaining forecasting systems, warning systems and citizenship awareness programs. However, the Indian Ocean Rim nations have neither developed their own association or joined in the Pacific Ocean Rim programs. One possible reason is that there has not been a major tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean Rim since the 1880's.

One consequence given was that in some places with the recent tsunami, citizens were unaware when the earthquake hit that the thing to do was to run to the hills and stay there for hours. Thousands of fatalities occurred because the citizens were not aware of what to do. However, in one town, over 500 were saved because Japanese tourists understood that the proper emergency response was to head to the hills as they watched the village below destroyed by the tsunami.

The tsunami raises important questions about the proper role of government and risk management. We should be discussing and debating these issues for a long time. Government is probably in the best situation to evaluate long-term risks and make appropriate investments.