Knowledge, the tsunami and citizens

Posted on December 30, 2014  /  1 Comments

In the overview piece that keeps popping up in various media (link below), I highlighted the importance of knowledge. Not only its creation, but its incorporation into everyday practice. Not only of government and private sector, but also of citizens.

Knowledge, he stressed, has to be incorporated into everyday practice not only by the government and private sector, but all citizens. “Let’s hope that the 10th anniversary of our greatest natural disaster will energise the efforts to build resilient societies in Asia Pacific.”

– See more at:

But, as I was reading the torrent of reminiscences generated by the 10th anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, I realized that knowledge was not getting through, even to “educated” citizens. An example is this comment on a World Bank blog: “Heart breaking reality caused by industrialisation and its affects on nature! Wish you all “strength and God be with you” – Seasons Greetings!”

What did industrialization have to do with the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami?

Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes, at least the 2004 tsunami was caused by one.

Earthquakes are not caused by industrialization. They are caused by the movement of tectonic plates.

As far as I know the tectonic plates are not moved by the effects of industrialization.

So what is this “educated” commenter is referring to cannot be the cause of hazard, but its effects, its interaction with society.

I suppose one can see the effects of industrialization in the sheer numbers of people. It’s the productivity gained through industrialization that has enabled so many of us to be alive. Prior to industrialization lots of people were produced, but they did not live very long. They were killed by something else before a tsunami got to them. For example, in 1871, Sri Lanka only had 2.4 million people. Unlikely that over 30,000 would have perished in a tsunami.

So shall we reverse industrialization and reduce population so that less people will die from a tsunami?

It appears we have much to do in reversing ignorance, even among the educated who comment on World Bank blogs.

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