IRVINE, CA–The tidal waves that took so many lives two weeks ago again raised the question, why do devastating natural disasters wreak far more havoc in undeveloped nations than in advanced ones?

Environmentalists often argue that disasters are caused by man’s “interference with nature” through technology and industrialization. But as the “tsunami tragically demonstrated, environmentalists are dead wrong,” said Dr. Andrew Bernstein, senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. “Far from being the cause of such tragedies, science, technology and industry provide the only means of safeguarding human lives against natural disasters.”

Bernstein points to the recurring example of the relatively undeveloped Caribbean islands, which suffer far worse devastation and loss of life from the same hurricanes that hammer Florida year after year. The U.S. makes its hurricane forecasts available to these island nations, but because of poor communications, bad roads and bridges, weak structures and buildings, lack of medicine, etc., the loss of life is often far greater than in the U.S., where  “the use of satellites, radar and communication technology make it possible to predict hurricanes and warn people well in advance of danger; well-maintained highways enable people to evacuate swiftly and safely; steel and concrete homes better withstand nature’s fury than wooden or thatched huts; hospitals and medicines are readily available to quickly treat the injured.”

“Nature,” said Bernstein, “always has and always will produce earthquakes, volcanoes, tidal waves, hurricanes, etc. But only science helps us understand these potential killers, and only technology and industrialization help us protect ourselves from them.”

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