Devastation and Responsibility

On Channel 4 News on Sunday, Jon Snow’s piece was moving and poetic, and the true impact of the disasters in Japan remains incomprehensible and seems to be worsening every day.

Like another poster on his blog, I was surprised to hear Jon Snow say something, on Sunday’s Channel 4 News, along the lines of the earthquake and tsunami have ‘changed the natural order of things’. Actually, earthquakes and tsunami are the natural order of things – they are nature in its rawest form.

It is ‘civilisation’ (through which we are increasingly removed from our natural roots) that has allowed humans to over-populate the earth, to such an extent that we have to take incredible risks with our lives and the future of the planet. For example, building nuclear power plants is bad enough, but it defies belief to build them in earthquake zones, just to feed our ever-increasing demand for energy – to heat bigger homes, and make and use (ie ‘play with’) more and more stuff, etc.

It reminds me of the billboard: “You are not IN traffic, you ARE traffic” – in other words, everyone in a car is partially responsible for the traffic and pollution they complain about. Likewise, we (ie all of us who are not completely self-sufficient, including ‘off-grid’) are all partially responsible for the huge demand for energy that necessitates diverse, polluting and extremely hazardous methods of generating electricity and otherwise harnessing the power of the earth. We can all have an impact in reducing that demand, thereby reducing the risks to ourselves in generating energy, which is especially important when there is so much pressure on this finite resource and greater need for sustainable methods of generating it.

While we can’t prevent earthquakes, we can all play a part (wherever we are around the world), in reducing their impacts by, for example, reducing global demand for energy (and the raw materials required) by using it more responsibly.

Edit: This post is an extended version of my comment on Jon Snow’s blog post “Japan: loss of life, devastation of homes, unimaginable grief“.


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