Monday, August 29, 2005

Two tsunami comments

One on local action, the other on international community:

1. Thousands of people were killed when the ... tsunami struck Sri Lanka [last December] because poachers had removed coral reefs that would have shielded the coastline from the worst of the waves (Poachers eased tsunami's path, Guardian 17 August).

2. A boxed comment in the article Ranking the Rich 2005 (Foreign Policy, Sep/Oct) notes that pledges of foreign aid to countries hit by last December's tsunami in the Indian Ocean ($5bn from private charities and goverment promises of more than $6bn) should be kept in perspective :

"Last year, the US Treasury raised $1.87bn in revenue from tariffs imposed on imports from the four major tsunami-affected countries (India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand). That is twice the $908m in aid the US congress approved in May. In effect, the US will recoup its entire aid package...within six months. If rich countries really want to commit themselves to improving the lives of citizens in tsunami affected nations, they should end these taxes and other protectionist barriers".

1 comment:

Caspar Henderson said...

Coral 'little damaged by tsunami'
Almost 90% of coral reefs hit by the Indian Ocean tsunami escaped severe damage, according to research.

Study of 175 sites along 435 miles of Thailand's west coast found 60% of reef suffered little or no damage.

Just 13% was severely damaged in the tsunami which killed more than 220,000 people, but scientists expected that to recover in five to 10 years.

The findings are to be presented to the Royal Geographical Society's annual conference in London on [30 August].

The study found the most northerly coast and islands more damaged than those further south, with shallow reefs on wave-exposed islands and shorelines most vulnerable.
Areas counted as severely damaged if at least half of the coral was broken or overturned.

Damage could have been caused both by the force of the wave, and stirred-up sediment smothering the coral.

In other areas, coral was dying because the earthquake had lifted the seabed and placed the coral on dry land.

Quake impact

But the University of Newcastle's Professor Barbara Brown, who worked alongside Thai researchers, said: "The initial results for Thailand are very encouraging and the resilience of the coral in this area will aid a fast recovery."

She said reefs had suffered greater damage on the coasts of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and India's Andaman and Nicobar islands because they had been hit by the original earthquake as well as the subsequent tsunami.

"A conservative estimate would suggest that many kilometres of shallow coral reef has been killed by uplift caused by the earthquake alone in these locations," the emeritus professor of Tropical Marine Biology said.

Coral reefs stretch from the surface of water down to the limit of light penetration - about 30m deep.
A healthy reef acts much like a natural breakwater and there is evidence they gave some coastlines a little protection - but also took some of the blow.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2005/08/30