The earthquake that hit Japan today was much, much stronger than the January 12 2010 earthquake that flattened much of Haiti. 8.8 (Japan) is several orders of magnitude stronger than 7.2 (Haiti).
But consider this: The Japan earthquake will likely result in a death toll in the several hundreds or thousands. The Haiti earthquake killed in the hundreds of thousands. The Japan earthquake will likely leave thousands of people homeless. The Haiti earthquake made millions of people homeless in an instant.
In other words, magnitudes of the strength of the two earthquakes are in inverse proportion to the magnitude of the damage they caused. That’s what happens when a less powerful earthquake hits a country with a GDP that is a fraction of Japan’s (Haiti’s GDP is $6.495 billion vs Japan: $5.39 trillion).
Now, take a look at the projected path of the Tsunami today:
And of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami
I did a quick, back of the envelope comparison of the average GDP’s of the countries listed in the both maps. The average GDP of countries affected by today’s Tsunami is: 318,411,000 millions of dollars. Of the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami: 2,122, 539 millions of dollars.
Again, we are talking orders of magnitudes of difference.
So, while we rightly ought to remain very concerned about the earthquake today, chances are it will be far less destructive than recent terrible natural disasters. With a few exceptions, the most part, the countries that will be most affected by today’s destruction are rich enough to deal with it.