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I’ve delayed posting about Japan because I needed a couple of days to really assimilate what had happened into my brain. It’s hard to remember, day to day, that we are tiny creatures, living on a sphere spinning millions of miles away from anything in eternal space. But when an earthquake hits Japan that actually changes the axis and speed of our planet, you remember in a hurry.

Especially when you know your city could be next.

When you live on the Ring of Fire, earthquakes are a fact of life. I find it easy to ignore this fact, since I have never felt a tremor in the years that I have lived out here. But that doesn’t mean squat. Like Japan, we exist over a joining of tectonic plates which are constantly engaged in an arm-wrestling match over domination of the area. Like in Japan, we have Earthquake Emergency Procedures tacked up on the bulletin boards of our workplaces.

This area is due for a doozy, and as prepared as Canada may be, we don’t have the efficiency of the Japanese, who were dealing with earthquakes long before Europe even discovered North America. Unlike Haiti, the Japanese have the money and the wherewithal to repair and rebuild.

My heart goes out to the people lost in Japan’s recent quake. To the people who have lost their homes. To the people who are still looking for their loved ones. But as a country, Japan will be just fine. Hell, the Japanese are such a socially-conscious and orderly culture that there have been no reports of looting or rioting.

I know, in my heart of hearts, that it could have been worse.

My brother in law was in Tokyo on business when this happened. An earthquake and tsunami of that size is tragic no matter where it falls, but if the epicentre had been closer to Tokyo, where over 35 million people live in a density of over 5,000 people per square kilometre, the death toll could have been in the hundreds of thousands. As it was, thank heavens for their excellent engineering, considering how well their buildings held up to the aftershocks. My BIL is fine. Tokyo is mostly fine.

Would Vancouver be? The last big earthquake near Vancouver occurred almost 300 years ago. How do we know our building can hold up? People would definitely riot and loot here, too.

I’m not afraid for myself, particularly. It’s a certainty that a major earthquake will hit here some day, but the chances of it happening in the time that I am alive on Earth and living in Vancouver are slim.

It’s just awing, when you are reminded of the might of our planet, and how fragile we really are.

Well done, Japan. You’ve handled a tragic situation excellently (as long as those nuclear reactors stay under control), and I am impressed.

Can we emulate you? WILL we?

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