The American-operated Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii has a network of wave height monitoring gauges at key points across the world's biggest ocean. As preliminary results come in, the variations are dramatic, lower readings in some of the more vulnerable places, much higher ones in others, like the 2.2 metre ( 6.6 feet) surge recorded in Crescent City, California, the scene of a previous tsunami tragedy. As with everything else in this crisis, nature's display of wrath and unpredictability is awesome.
|Tsunami surge: islet off Lautoka, Fiji|
Japan's economic domination of the Asia Pacific region may have been on the wane in recent years with a domestic slow-down and the rise of China and South Korea. But the body blow to Japanese infrastructure and confidence from this disaster will trigger a second economic tsunami throughout the region with just as much unpredictability as the physical one. Global markets fell as the extent of the disaster unfolded, traders - like everyone else - transfixed by the apocalyptic scenes on live television of whole towns swept away, burning oil refineries and a panic-stricken Japanese populace. It used to be said that when America sneezes, the whole world catches a cold. The Japanese contagion in our own region will be severe.
|Vulnerable: Paradise until The Big One|
News of evacuations around one of the Japanese nuclear power stations after its cooling system failed can only add to the doomsday gloom. What happens below ground has, of course, nothing to do with global warming. But it has huge potential to throttle wider adoption of the one viable technology the world has right now to generate power without the carbon emissions being blamed for that warming in many quarters. If nuclear power isn't safe not because of technology but "terra infirma", then the case for adopting it is naturally weaker. It'll be a sobering irony for everyone if the place where the nuclear weapon was first used becomes the burial ground for nuclear power.