By Eric Klinenberg, New York Times
“Mother Nature goes to extremes in the summer, spoiling the gift of good weather with hurricanes, heat waves, fires and floods. This year she started early. On May 2, Cyclone Nargis laid waste to large parts of Myanmar. According to the latest counts, the disaster left 2.4 million people destitute, more than 50,000 missing and at least 84,000 dead. On May 12, China’s Sichuan Province suffered an earthquake measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale. China’s state media reported that more than five million people lost their homes; an estimated 80,000 people, many of them children, were killed.
“Is there anything we can do to avert such dangers? These days, of course, extreme weather is only one of the many perils we face. Terrorist attacks or technological accidents involving nuclear weapons; pandemic diseases that cannot be cured; comets and asteroids that could wipe out the human race. We live in an age of risk assessment and risk analysis, when doomsday scenarios have become daily anxieties, and planning for improbable but world-changing events has become a focus of disaster policy.”