Nature Shows Its Might Again


Haiti, a small Caribbean country, experienced nature’s fury when on January 13; a strong earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 rocked its capital Port au Prince. This earthquake is termed one of the deadliest natural disasters ever.

The epicentre of this quake was just 25 kilometres away from the capital, Port au Prince with a focus just 13 kilometres below the surface. Hitherto, the earthquake in 16th century China was the most devastating which killed over 0.8 million people. The exact number of casualties in Haiti is not clear as the entire capital is rubble.

Homes, government offices and buildings, Parliament and the buildings of the UN, hospitals etc., all are destroyed. Hundreds of thousands of people are assumed to be still buried under debris. According to initial estimates, the death toll has reached 50000-100000 people. It is estimated that after the clearance of debris, this number may reach 0.4-0.5 million.

Presidents National palace destroyed in Hati

US President Barack Obama announced that his country initiated its biggest ever relief operation. British Queen Elizabeth expressed grief and concern for the people of Haiti and announced help. Though the entire world is standing for the help of Haiti, this calamity has created many obstacles in providing relief. Roads, the communication and transport systems have collapsed. Haiti airport is already overcrowded by relief planes. The US has sent three big ships, packed with complete hospitals and other relief amenities, to Haiti.

Another unfortunate thing about this disaster is that the above data and figures are only for the capital Port au Prince. Estimates are that similar devastation might have also happened in the areas ranging 50-100 kilometres around the capital. Since after the earthquake, contact with other regions has been broken, therefore the extent of loss at other places is not clear. Everywhere there is debris of buildings and unaccounted dead bodies. This earthquake has once again sparked the debate about why scientists, who boast of predicting the activities of the universe, are not able to predict the things happening beneath their feet.

After the tsunami of 2004, the scientists were apparently awakened. For some time, rhetoric was that the scientists would work seriously in the direction of forecasting natural disasters like Tsunami and earthquakes. While expert in bringing out new truths about the universe, moon, mars and galaxies, science seems to be failing in case of the earth’s interior. Though the same science is successful in telling the intensity, magnitude, epicentre and focus of the earthquake after it has happened, but our scientists are still lagging in predicting such earthquakes.

How should we see the working of the scientists? In the entire universe, life is definitely known to be present only on the earth. Reports regarding life on other celestial bodies are unconfirmed and self-contradictory. What is the use of such expensive projects by scientists which are continuously adding to the ‘incredible’ facts regarding stars, planets and the universe, when they are not able to collect complete information on the earth?

Last year, many great scientists created a huge experimental machine named ‘Large Hadron Collider’. Just before the start of experiments by this machine situated on the French-Swiss border, there were rumours regarding loss to the earth by such experimentation. Just after the start, this machine was faced with a technical snag and it stopped functioning. The machine has started functioning again. Again, this machine was not made for predicting anything, instead it was made so as to understand the events involved in the creation of the universe and the earth.

No doubt, the scientists have made unimaginable progress in the fields of information, communication and technology. Scientists even have created an artificial human mind. It means now the human mind will probably not be dependent on God. Scientists have good command on weather forecast, information about the Solar and Lunar eclipses, prediction of accidents in the universe and control on the powerful laser technology etc. As for the prediction of the geological activities, scientists seem helpless.

By seeing the progress made by the scientists, it can’t be said that the future earthquakes would also be unpredicted. But until the science reaches that level, it would have to be recognised that nature has stored many such treasures of information inside and outside the earth, which are still out of reach and out of the imaginations of the scientists. And the same truth makes the human bow down before the might of nature.

Tanveer Jafri is an award-winning journalist and peace activist, based in India, covering communal harmony and social activities.