If nothing else, this disaster should prompt other governments to take a look at their own situation - because there are many places in the world with
sub-standard construction that could not have withstood this quake.
Japan, for example.
Gov't says 10,000 schools need
How does Japan, the most seismically active nation in the world come to be in this situation? simple: buildings are constructed, and they remain
standing while new technology and construction techniques are introduced. Upgrades get lost in the budget. Eventually, you get to a point where a
40-year old building is declared sub-standard.
If you take a look at the pics from the China quake, you'll see that many new buildings are still standing. Older buildings, like everywhere else in
the world, were built to a lower standard. If the quake had not happened, most of these buildngs would likely have been replaced over the next 20
Sadly, this situation is common and widespread - and will likely be repeated. There are many areas of the world where we know that there have been
large-scale quakes in the last few hundred years. The New Madrid fault, for one. Vancouver is another. NYC is another. Toronto is another. Every few
years, on a slow news day, there seems to be a piece with an earthquake expert talking about how these areas are unprepared for a large quake. With
Vancouver, they've started to take it seriously, but all estimates show that the damage would be catastrophic if a 7.8M quake were to strike. Toronto
- forget it. A few recently constructed office towers would likely survive, without the glass. Most homes, if they survive the shake, will be plywood
shells surrounded by piles of crumbled brick fascia. No one is prepared. Even in Tokyo, they say an 8.0 quake could have a death toll in the 100,000s
- due to the collapse of old, sub-standard buildings.
The lack of attention to this problem is not unique to China. We have all been ignoring this problem.
Oddly, I think that China is in a better position to deal with the problem than most other countries. The word went out yesterday: $10 Billion US in
reconstruction funds, halt on all government-funded construction projects until reconstruction is complete, and every ministry is to take a 5% cut to
cover the cost without breaking the budget. I would not be surprised to see the army employed as construction labour before the end of the month.
How does this response to the crisis compare, in terms of speed and efficiency?