The difference between wealth and poverty

I\’m sure others will be pointing this out but:

\”The power of nature has again struck our country,\” Bachelet said, declaring six of Chile\’s 15 regions \”catastrophe zones\” in the aftermath of the 8.8-magnitude quake…..\”This is a catastrophe of immense proportions, so it will be very difficult to give precise figures,\” Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma said. Officials later said at least 300 people had been killed…..The total value of economic damage caused by the quake is likely to range between 15 billion and 30 billion dollars, a US risk modeling firm predicted.

Compare and contrast:

It was the second major earthquake to hit the Western hemisphere in seven weeks after more than 200,000 people were killed in Haiti last month by a 7.0-magnitude quake.

Thae Haiti quake was less than a tenth of the strength and yet the death toll was around 100 times worse. Haiti\’s GDP was around $7 billion before the quake…..it\’s entirely possible that there wasn\’t actually $30 bilion of damage that could be done to the poor benighted country.

Perhaps it\’s wrong of me to try and make political (political in the grander sense, not just mere party politics) points while people are still under the rubble  in both countries.

But this is one of the reasons why we really don\’t want to fall into the Deep Green trap of thinking that material wealth isn\’t important. As and when disaster strikes, which it will, material wealth means that people live. It\’s a bit of a bugger rebuilding, boring recreating what already existed: but that\’s a fuck sight better than having to dig 200,000 graves, don\’t you think?

5 comments on “The difference between wealth and poverty

  1. “less than a tenth of the strength”

    An 8.8 earthquake is actually 500 times stronger a 7.0 one in terms of energy released.

    The increase in energy for each 1.0 in the scale is about 31.6 and raising 31.6 to the power of 1.8 gives just over 500.

  2. …and whereas Haiti are blaming foreigners for not helping enough, Chile reckons it can cope by itself…I blame it on Pinochet and Friedman for being so damned right-wing

  3. There are a few other differences between the Haitian earthquake and that which struck Chile.

    In the Haitian quake, the energy was released about fifteen miles down and only 35 miles from Port au Prince. In the Chilean case the epicentre was 25 miles down and 120 miles away from civilisation. Using the inverse distance squared rule this means the energy recieved by humans was only 50 times greater in Chile as compared to Haiti*.

    This doesn’t detract from our esteemed correspondent’s case though: wealthier nations are better equipped to deal with the effects of natural disasters.

    *If inverse distance cubed is the correct rule** then the difference comes down to a factor of 15.
    **I tended to skip the Seismic Studies bit of geology when I was at college.

  4. Also, a lot depends on the portion of energy which goes into the vertical component of the vector. One of the assumptions made in earthquake calculations is that the energy is 40:40:20 percent split across the x, y, and z (vertical) planes. If you get a huge vertical component, like that which hit Neftegorsk in 1995 and flattened the town, you have massive damage.

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