Our fragile Earth

OPEC Bulletin Commentary January 2005.

Last month’s devastating Indian Ocean tsunami reminds us that we should strive to do good on our common planet.

The New Year is traditionally a time of hope, a time for making plans, a time when we look forward to the future, wondering what it may hold. This year, it was different. On December 26, an undersea earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggered a series of powerful tidal waves, or tsunami, that raced through the deep water and, when they hit land, caused unimaginable devastation and massive loss of life in the countries of the region, including OPEC Member Indonesia. At first, communications with many of the affected areas were cut off. Then the pictures of the tragedy began to arrive, first a trickle, and then in a flood of shocking images. New Year celebrations around the world were understandably muted as the scale of what had happened began to sink in.

With a disaster of this magnitude, it is impossible to know the precise number of those who died, although it is already more than 220,000 and will no doubt rise further. Nor do we know the exact cost of the damage. We do, however, know that the affected countries were developing nations who can ill afford to bear the cost of reconstruction, and that many of the victims were poor coastal residents who earned their living from fishing or tourism-related activities. As the recovery process begins, aid is now arriving from all around the world including, of course, from the OPEC Member Countries (governments and private citizens alike), the OPEC Fund for International Development and other organizations.

The power of modern communications technology such as satellite television and the Internet means that we are able to witness a devastating natural disaster like the Indian Ocean tsunami — which has caused so much economic damage and claimed so many innocent lives — almost as if we were there ourselves. And that should give everyone cause to reflect for a moment. The scale of the tsunami tragedy and the international aid response has once again emphasized the universal theme that we all share the same planet, and that we share it not only with more than six billion of our fellow human beings, but also with forces of nature that are so powerful they can sweep away our lives and everything we hold dear in an instant.

We cannot, of course, control the power of nature, but we can all work towards creating a better, more harmonious world. The international aid effort has shown how people from the most diverse backgrounds around the world can work together as one to help the victims of the tsunami. Let us all be encouraged by this response, and let us aim to put aside all the differences in our daily lives which often prevent us from achieving a more harmonious world. As we remember the victims of the tsunami, their relatives and everyone affected by the disaster in our prayers, we should remember the importance of always trying to do good towards our fellow human beings, and we should continue to strive towards that goal.

This Commentary is taken from the January 2005 edition of the OPEC Bulletin, which can be downloaded free of charge in PDF format from the OPEC website.

OPEC Bulletin (January 2005)

Download document