The March 11, 2011 earthquake that rocked Japan is one of the worst seismic events to strike the world in recorded history. The Japanese people and the economy, have been tragically affected. In the weeks since, we have seen amazing video of epic destruction on a scale that could scarcely be imagined. As one Red Cross worker exclaimed "it doesn't get any worse than this". Based on the evidence seen in the days and week since the disaster, we can all see the truth in this statement.

Unfortunately, Japan is hardly unique in its tendency to experience geological upheavals. In fact, practically the entire Pacific coastline is termed the "Ring of Fire" due to the large number of earthquake prone zones. The Pacific Northwest area in North America is one such area. Experts tell us that it is a matter of when, not if, a disaster like that experienced by Japan hits the area around Seattle, Washington or Vancouver, British Columbia. Based on the experience of Japan, and that of the New Zealand earthquake of February 21, 2011, the Pacific Northwest is going to be devastated when the "Big One" hits. Looking at buildings in the area, it is clear that many older structures are going to collapse, just like similar aged ones in New Zealand or Japan did. There will be damage to infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and utilities. Any loss of life cannot be estimated with any accuracy, but a large earthquake hitting any area has the potential to kill many thousands of people.

The people of the world are mourning with the Japanese people. Many people have emigrated from Japan and established lives in countries around the world. When their homeland is struck by a disaster of this magnitude, they are deeply affected. Their bonds with people in their adopted countries really personalize the devastation for everyone. We are all feeling the devastation, but we can hardly understand the loss that is felt by the Japanese. Both the loss of life and loss of community have been caused by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.

Luckily, we have seen a few miraculous stories of rescue and survival from Japan. These restore our faith in the ability of humans to withstand such terrifying events. Though the disaster is not fully resolved, in light of the continuing trouble with the nuclear reactors, we see that efforts are underway to reclaim Japan from the devastation. The world will see that despite the damage, loss of life and cost, the Japanese people will re-establish civilization on those areas destroyed on March 11, 2011. The new construction will be better than it was before but it will not erase the tragedy of that day. Like many other areas of the world struck by such epic destruction, the scar will be present long after visible reminders are cleared away.

Japan will rebuild much of the devastated areas in ways better than they were before. Those lost will be mourned and remembered both for the way they lived and the way they died. The defenses of Japan will be bolstered in order to better protect the country from future events. One thing is certain, however, there will be earthquakes and tsunamis to strike Japan again. There is no way to stop the geologic events so the best that can be done is some strengthening of buildings and better monitoring of the earth's movements. Coupled with adequate notification and avenues of escape prior to the next event, perhaps the loss of life in the next event can me lessened. There will be tragedies, to be sure, as the forces at work causing massive earthquakes and tsunamis are so great compared to the defenses that can reasonably be established.