Sunday, February 28, 2010

Pacific Nations Breathe Sigh of Relief

The much-feared tsunami that followed in the wake of the Chilean earthquake turned to be, thankfully, a tempest in a teapot.

As it stands now, only Robinson Crusoe Island and Easter Island seem to have suffered serious damage. However, since this particular tsunami is a series of waves rather than one unified one, many nations are still wary even as they call off the threat alert.

Eduardo Avila has an excellent post on Global Voices Online, and points to a resident of Easter Island, Alejandro Tucki (@JanoTC), who tweeted a photo (see above) of a rock wall turned to debris by the tsunami.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Robinson Crusoe Island Deluged

Aishwarya Bhatt of is reporting that Robinson Crusoe Island has been devastated by the tsunami that formed in the wake of the latest Chilean earthquake.

"...the Robinson Crusoe Island, which is an integral part of the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, has already been deluged. It was reported that Chile’s Robinson Crusoe Island has already been smashed by huge waves, after the massive earthquake. Chile’s Robinson Crusoe Island is a very remote island, and it is located around 700 kilometers from the mainland. The Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced that 2 ships with relief material have already been dispatched to the Robinson Crusoe Island."

Next in line for the disastrous tidal wave would be Easter Island. Easter Island is currently being evacuated, and what happens there will give us a closer look at what is in store for Hawaii, Australia, the Philippines and many other Pacific nations.

The tsunami sirens will next be sounded on Hawaii, at 6am local time.

Tsunami Warning Across Pacific Rim

A massive 8.8 magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Chile at 3:34am this morning, setting into motion a tsunami that threatens the entire Pacific Rim, and points as far away as Australia and Antarctica.

Several substantial aftershocks followed, including ones measuring 6.9, 6.2 and 5.6.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center has issued a warning for Chile and Peru, and a less-urgent tsunami watch for Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica and Antarctica. The PTWC has issued its highest alert for Hawaii, where incoming waves could cause damage along the coastlines across the island chain.

The largest earthquake ever recorded occurred in the very same region, on May 22, 1960. The 9.5 magnitude earthquake killed thousands and left millions homeless in Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines. Damage was even reported as far out as the United States West Coast.

People in coastal areas, such as the tourist-filled Waikiki, will be instructed on a possible evacuation scenario. Public alert sirens will be sounded again three hours prior to the estimated arrival time of the tsunami wave.

"If you're in an evacuation zone, police or civil defense volunteers would instruct you to evacuate, or instructions will come out over the radio and TV," she said.

Breaking news on this disaster will follow here. Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Where Wonders Await Us

Michael Sigman on HuffPo has a great bit about Obama's budget cuts for NASA space exploration and the hilarious book A Martian Wouldn't Say That by Leonard Stern and Diane Robinson.

However, the part that most interests us for our purposes here is this succinct bit of wisdom:

In a December, 2007 NYRB piece titled Where Wonders Await Us, Tim Flannery discusses two books -- The Deep: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvian and The Silent Deep: The Discovery, Ecology and Conservation of the Deep Sea by Tony Koslow -- full of astounding information and mind-blowing photos of the ocean depths. Our ignorance of this vast world is startling. Flannery: "Despite the fact that less than one percent of the ocean deep has been mapped, today our explorations are restricted to depths of six thousand meters or less."

Deep sea exploration is far cheaper and faster than space travel, and it even holds promise for helping us explore the heavens. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute notes that "Ocean research reveals fundamental planetary forces which support thriving communities of life, on and below the seafloor, that hold key clues to the evolution of life on Earth and the possibility of life on other planets."

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Free Tilikum

By now you've no doubt heard about the tragedy at SeaWorld, and people are wondering why Tilikum would do something do such a thing to his own trainer.

Consider this: Tilikum was kidnapped, separated from his family, has no real friends, no meaningful sex besides coerced mating, and is confined to a tank the size of a kiddie pool.

If any sort of entities did the same thing to you, you might eventually try to kill your captors too. As Captain Pike told the Talosians, humans prefer death to captivity. Orcas, being even more sensitive and intelligent than humans, clearly feel the same way.

Amazingly, some are calling for Tilikum to be put down and destroyed. We say Tilikum was acting in self-defense.

Thankfully, SeaWorld, is announcing that Tilikum will not be killed, but of course, they're merely saying that because they don't wish to gut their golden calf or kill their cash cow.

Raymond Graham, writing in the Times Colonist, says it best:

The death of Dawn Brancheau is tragic -- but not more so than the last 28 years of slow death that Tillikum has experienced and the similar experiences of other highly intelligent creatures.