“The real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money” – Bernard Meltzer quotes www.brainyquote.com

As we reflect on the events of another year, as an individual, a family, a community, a nation, a region or a universe, we are rudely awakened by the impact of the forces of nature over which we have no control. In the Caribbean, Hurricane Ivan was a wake up call. This now pales in significance when compared with the Tsunami disaster in Southern Asia.

Taran Rampersad writes: We have seen video footage of people trying to save each other, the final farewell an outstretched hand. A story relates that a person who was sitting with 40 people cannot find any of them. Had these people even had 15 minutes warning, in a lot of cases, they could have walked to safety…
Tens of thousands of lives, in twelve countries, all in one fell swoop, here today, gone today! Those countries are also faced with the threat of further death from disease, short-term survival and the challenge of rebuilding. This is one of the worst natural disasters within living memory.

On occasions like these, we must go back to zero and ask What is the purpose of life?‚ In my book‚, it is to create happiness and avoid pain for oneself and all those within one‚s sphere of influence. This is the ideal. In my experience, one will never make a perfect score because of the complexity of the human being manifested by one‚s physical, intellectual, spiritual and emotional needs. I will provocatively state that the purpose of life is to accumulate wealth, but will hastily add that the real measure of your wealth is how much you’d be worth if you lost all your money. We must therefore focus on holistic wealth, on the comprehensive development of the human being. This is the best preparation for natural disasters, it fortifies us with the collective energy and potential to rebuild.

Our spiritual being is infinite, our physical, intellectual and emotional beings help us to manage the process while we are on earth. When we are here on earth the development of our spiritual being will stand us in good stead for the life hereafter. This spiritual development can be fostered by continual communication with God, identifying that which in you is unique and developing it to the fullest so that you might better help your fellowman while here on earth.
In order to optimize the presence of man on earth, in terms of one’s spiritual development one must preserve life and ensure that the human being is developed to its fullest. We must protect ourselves against the ravages of natural disasters.

In the Eastern Caribbean we have experienced many earthquakes and other seismic activity in the past year. Kick em Jenny is a submarine volcano located 9 km north of Grenada. Currently, the threat of a tsunami from an eruption of the volcano is extremely low since a recent (2003) survey revealed that the summit of the volcano is quite deep. At the moment, Kick em Jenny poses a grave danger to shipping as the volcano is constantly emitting gases, which lower the buoyancy of the water and can cause vessels to sink. For this reason there is a 1.5km exclusion zone around the summit of the volcano.

Kick em Jenny is an active volcano having erupted some eight to nine times since the 1940’s. At present the summit is approx.130m below the surface. Eruptions will become more violent and cause more disturbances once the summit rises to 100m. The main threat to the islands would be a tsunami which could severely damage Grenada and the coastal areas of other islands. It is difficult to gauge the amount of damage that will be done since much of the research conducted is not at present circulating in an open forum. Kick em Jenny is monitored by the Seismic Research Unit of the University of The West Indies Trinidad Campus – www.uwiseismic.com.

While it is possible for a tsunami to occur in the Caribbean, scientists currently believe that there is a very low probability of this happening. As far as they know, the largest tsunami to affect the Caribbean in the past 500 years has been 8m in amplitude.
Tourism is the major foreign exchange earner of many islands in the Caribbean and as such many of the governments are taking an active interest in developing disaster warning systems. There is currently no tsunami early warning system in the Caribbean.
A tsunami warning system that could have saved thousands of lives this week should be in place in Southern and Southeast Asia within a year, the United Nations said last Wednesday.

‚The technology to detect earthquakes under the sea and predict their consequences already exists in the Pacific and must now be extended to the Indian Ocean‚, said Sálvano Briceño, director of the United Nations Disaster Reduction Office based in Geneva. The Caribbean is well advised to tap into this technology to protect against the here today, gone today‚ syndrome.