Thursday 12 April 2012

What A Relief

By now most of us, especially those living in this part of the world, would feel relief that the Tsunami warnings were lifted and the worse is over, for now. The report that an earthquake measuring around 8.6 which occurred near Aceh and the subsequent warning about the possible Tsunami had caused anxiety not only around the affected areas but globally as well. The faces of people in Aceh which were shown on TV reflected the magnitude of concern over the whole episode.

What could we learn from what happened yesterday?

Well, in case we have forgotten, disasters such as earthquake could occur anytime, especially in countries which are situated on the Ring of Fire. When such event occur, the risk of devastation could be very high, as what happened in Japan last year. The question before us is how would such events affect us. This is more important for governments and businesses as natural disasters could affect business activities and require governments' intervention and quick response from businesses.

Depending on where we are, natural disasters could be assessed to be a risk which would have high impact. Whether the probability of occurring is high or otherwise depends on the types and nature of such disasters. I would say that the probability for floods to cause problems to Malaysia is higher compared to earthquakes. However, given the interconnectedness of business, this nexus need to be evaluated with more detail by businesses.

How do we sense when these events could occur? Well, weather related events could be anticipated by understanding the weather patterns. What about earthquake? 

About a month ago, a colleague of mine told me about the behavior of a colony of ants which live in his garden. The ants were behaving strangely lately although he taught this could be attributed to the rain which fell in his neighborhood. Well, could such behavior meant that the ants sensed the impending earthquake? Given their small size, even small seismic movement would be huge for them. So, do we now need to keep ants at our offices as a predictor of earthquake?

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