By: Mariya Guzova
In the wake of the devastating earthquakes suffered in Ecuador, coastal cities around the world are again reminded of the dangers they face with rising sea levels and earthquakes.
A 9.0 magnitude Earthquake is due from the Juan de Fuca plate, which is slowly subducting beneath the North American plate. This earthquake, often referred to as ‘the big one,’ is expected to essentially rip the Earth open and send powerful tsunamis along the Pacific, damaging the North American west coast and reaching as far as Japan.
The devastating effects of these tsunamis are being exasperated by the threat of rising sea levels associated with climate change. Studies have shown that climate change is increasing hazards associated with coastal living, and up 80% of coastal populations are at risk of being inundated.
To warn people of tsunami risks, officials in Japan have adopted a “don’t tell, show” approach. They’ve developed an animated simulation representing a gargantuan wave crashing on the popular tourist destination of Kamaruka. The animation was created in response to what officials call a public complacency towards the 2011 tsunami that killed nearly 16,000 people in Japan.
The video prepares residents for the devastating effects that an earthquake in the Pacific Ocean could have on Japan and other coastal communities, also teaching people about preventative and emergency measures. Other animations have been created to demonstrate similar effects on the Pacific Rim.
These simulations are intended as a wake up call, to make disasters that seem to only affect people on the other side of the world hit home. To remind us that while the Earth’s climate is fragile, our civilizations don’t even come close to its power.
Additionally, these simulations contribute to the dialogue surrounding what is called the ‘silent tsunami.’ An offshoot effect of climate change that will see low-lying coastal cities dip beneath the water if sea levels continue to rise. Officials advise that they should be used as tools to make the necessary adjustments in infrastructure, development and environmental plans for the future.