It seems that while we are in the midst of coming to terms with one natural disaster another occurs.
In the first 3 months of 2011 the world community has already been rocked by 2 major crises. The most recent being Friday’s earthquake that shook the Pacific, centering on Japan.
Though severe weather warnings were issued for Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, the entire western coasts of the U.S.A. and Canada, Mexico and Central and South America and the rest of the Pacific Ocean, Japan – by far – took the full brunt of the disaster, sustaining damage of epic proportions. With the east coast of Honshu at the epicenter, the historic 8.9 magnitude earthquake sent violent tremors that reached Tokyo hundreds of miles away . The quake triggered a 23-foot tsunami wave and more than 50 aftershocks that rattled the island nation for hours after the initial hit, many of which were more than magnitude 6.0  – the same brute force as the quake that reduced Haiti to rubble last year.
Whole towns and villages have been wiped off the map as tsunami flood waters claim the landscape, altering Japan’s coastline; moving the coastline by 8 feet (nearly 2.5 meters) according to Geophysicist Kenneth Hudnut of the U.S. Geological Survey, and shifting the position of the earth’s axis by about 8 centimeters .
This tragedy has literally changed the face of our planet as we know it.
Many parts of the nation are in blackout and a nuclear crisis hovers as 4 nuclear plants in northeastern Japan have reported damage. One “non-threatening” explosion has already occurred at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex . According to Reuters Canada, “officials worked desperately to stop fuel rods in the damaged reactors from overheating. If they fail, the containers that house the core could melt, or even explode, releasing radioactive material into the atmosphere” .
News sources including the Associated Press, Fox News, Los Angeles Times, National Post, Perth Now, and Syndey Morning Herald are reporting upwards of tens of thousands now dead, with tens of thousands still missing or unaccounted for.
The Los Angeles Times reports, “More than 500,000 people have been forced to evacuate in the wake of the massive earthquake and tsunami, with many cut off from food, electricity and water “.
Responding to people’s desire to be kept aware of the situation, Google has created a crisis response update page for the Japan earthquake+tsunami disaster that includes the Japanese Quake Person Finder (available in Chinese, Korean, Japanese and English). This is a registry that allows people to share when they have received information that a missing person is alive or to create a record for a new missing person. There are currently over 126,000 records.
Sixty-nine countries and regions, plus five international organizations have offered assistance as of today .
How can you help?
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada is urging people to donate money to Red Cross relief efforts, not clothing or food .
Second Life has a vibrant and generous community of residents living in Japan. Let’s make a difference in their lives, the lives of their families and the lives of their nation.
If you, your friends and/or family would like to donate to relief efforts through trusted development and relief agencies:
- From Second Life:
- A Pacific Crisis Fundraiser is in planning stages for launch March 16 to April 10. Presently, there is a call for designers who are willing to donate 50% or 100% of a specific product’s sales to the Americares disaster relief and humanitarian aid organization. If you are a designer who is willing to help, visit tinyurl.com/pacificfund. 100% of funds raised will to go relief efforts in Japan. Land for the event is being donated by Glam Affair/Aida Ewing.
- Purchase Relief Teddy Bears created by Linden Labs with 100% proceeds going to the Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief efforts of the American Red Cross. Read more »
- From the USA†:
- Donate online
- Call 1-800 RED CROSS (English) or 1-800 257 7575 (Spanish)
- Text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation to help those affected by the earthquake in Japan and tsunami throughout the Pacific.
- Mail in a printable donor card to American Red Cross, PO Box 4002018, Des Moines, Idaho, 50340-2018
- From Canada‡:
- Donate online
- Call 1-800-418-1111
- Text the word ASIA to 30333 to make a one-time donation of $5*
- Contact your local Red Cross office. Cheques should be made payable to the Canadian Red Cross, earmarked “Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami” and mailed to the Canadian Red Cross National Office, 170 Metcalfe Street, Suite 300, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 2P2.
- Donate online
† Information source: redcross.org
‡ Information source: redcross.ca
* A one-time donation of $5 will be added to your mobile phone bill. Standard messaging rates and additional fees may apply to donation texts. All charges are billed by and payable to your mobile service provider. This service is available on most carriers. Donations are collected for the benefit of the Canadian Red Cross by the Mobile Giving Foundation and subject to the terms found at www.mobilegiving.ca. You can unsubscribe at any time by texting STOP to 30333.
,  Fox News: Hundreds of Bodies Found in Japan After Massive Tsunami Spawned by Earthquake
 Voice of America News: Japan’s Earthquake Alters Coast Line, Changes Earth’s Axis
 Associated Press: 180K flee as Japan’s nuke-plant crisis intensifies
 Reuters Canada: Japan fights to avert nuclear meltdown after quake
 Los Angeles Times: Japan quake toll could number in tens of thousands
 The Daily Yomiuri: Offers of assistance come from around the world
 Toronto Star: How to donate to relief efforts in Japan