Tsunamis can be absolutely devastating for all forms of life on earth. The 2004 Boxing Day tsunami in South East Asia alone killed over 23,000 people and caused a humanitarian crisis on an almost unprecedented scale. It is impossible to prevent tsunamis from happening, as they are caused by earthquakes or volcanic eruptions under the water, both unpreventable natural disasters. However, there are ways that we can prepare for tsunamis and mitigate the effects, and it is vital that we do so to protect both human lives and livelihoods.
The first way to try and avoid tsunamis causing too much damage is too avoid building infrastructure upon inundation areas. All buildings would be located as far from these areas as possible, and the safest places to build housing is on high points. Because inundation areas are not desirable, it’s the poor who end up living on them, because they are cheaper and it is all they can afford. Governments need to reduce overcrowding in large cities and start taking care of their countries’ poor, and then so many would not be killed in tsunamis.
Infrastructure is also required to slow water down. Berms, ditches and slopes can all help to slow down the water, as can planting trees. It is very important that the force of the tsunami is correctly estimated for these measures to work efficiently, so research needs doing and proper warning systems need to be put in place.
It is also possible to steer the water to prevent it from hitting areas where it could cause massive damage, and this can be done used angled walls, ditches and paved roads. Porous dikes could also reduce the impact of violent waves in theory, but they are not used and considered in the way that they should be. Walls and other structures can also be used to block water from tsunamis, and they can prevent the water getting to houses and communities, and they should be put in place to help prevent death and damage.
Another very effective way of saving lives is to develop proper warning systems and research ways of predicting tsunamis before they happen. This would not save buildings but it could definitely save people’s lives, as they would have time to evacuate the area. Places of safety would have to be set up though, or the result would be a huge refugee crisis, and people would end up starving instead of drowning.
All in all, it is possible to reduce the devastation caused by tsunamis, but the methods require a great deal of investment. Sadly, tsunamis will continue to kill people until governments are willing to spend the money. However, they should because it would be worth it in the long run, as clearing up and rebuilding will ultimately cost more money than prevention.