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A Mortal Year

New Year’s Eve brings a time of reflection on the past year and hope for the coming year. In a year when new Australian mortality tables were released showing men living 1.9 years longer and women 1.5 years longer, the Indian Ocean tsunami indicates that life is not smooth averages where lifetimes are predictable in decimal points. Random events (including where people are born and who their parents are) have a significant role in lifetimes and lifestyles. Whilst the average Australian male lifetime is 77.6, less developed countries with war and heath risks have average life expectancies of 40 years.

The current estimated death toll from the tsunami is 125,000. The earthquake causing the tsunami occurred on 26 December 2004 at 7:58am local time off the west coast of Northern Sumatra. This comes almost exactly 30 years after Cyclone Tracy, which hit Darwin on Christmas Eve 1974 causing 65 deaths. More information on the quake can be found at http://earthquake.usgs.gov/eqinthenews/2004/usslav/ We have added this site and other environmental information sites to a new section under Links at http://www.findem.com.au/resources/resourcesarchivek.php We have also added a list of sudden multiple death events to the Resources database at http://www.findem.com.au/resources/displayResourcesArticle.php?id=62 On the estimate so far, the Indian Ocean tsunami ranks second so far to the Bangladesh Cyclone of 1991.

Military and government resources are being contributed to the search for survivors of the tsunami by some of the same nations which went to war against Iraq in March 2003 where loss of life continues. This brings reflection on how lives are valued in different circumstances and how to balance exposure of innocents to warfare against the purpose of going to war. Estimates of Iraqi civilians killed since the war began on 13 March 2003 are between 15,000 and 17,200.

This is all very depressing so where is the hope? The hope is that humans with power over people and/or material resources might reflect on the fact they are mortal and can't take it with them and should do something beneficial to the planet while they have an ability to do so. Initial responses of aid and comments on the need for long term support of the effected countries are very encouraging.

Posted Friday, 31 December 2004


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