Mother Nature's Fury: The Disasters of 2010

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Is There Any Human Blame For A Natural Disaster?

Today, ten days before the year is up, we can count the grim toll and find that more than 260,000 people have died in these disasters of 2010. By that measure, it's the worst year in a generation, since the early-1980s famine in Ethiopia.

What, if anything, is to blame?

For the human toll, many experts blame the poverty and poor building practices that – in Haiti especially – allowed an earthquake to take so many lives. For the sheer volume of extremes, climatologists say we are suffering because of man-made global warming. Many scientists believe that climate change is not only warming the planet; it has also made it more likely that a mellow climactic event will become a ferocious one.

In any event, we cannot blame Mother Nature for everything. 2010 has been a pretty rough year in the man-made-disaster category, too. Any retrospective will highlight the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, and mining collapses the world over -- though the best-known of those brought us an unabashed good-news story: the successful rescue of those 29 hardy men of the mine near Copiapo, Chile.

So, farewell, 2010. And if we are to suffer such calamity in 2011 (and sadly, it is all but certain we will) let us raise a toast to these propositions: That the new year brings us fewer of them, first; and second, that when they come, they are the Copiapo brand of disasters. As in, the ones that end in joy.

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