5 November 2020
Photo: P. Guérin, ZED Productions
November 5 marks the international Tsunami Awareness Day. On this occasion, world renowned film maker Pascal Guérin has left a Testimony that we would like to reprint with the author's consent. Here is a trailer to his documentary "Tsunamis, Facing a Global Threat".
My name is Pascal Guérin. I am a French Filmmaker. I’ve directed the documentary, "Tsunamis, facing a global threat", broadcasted on ARTE, Curiosity Stream USA, SBS Australia and on other international TV channels. It will soon be released on Radio-Canada.
To make this film, I’ve worked for two years with several scientists around the world, Europeans, Indonesians, Americans, Canadians, Japanese, South Americans.
The film has recently been chosen by UNESCO in collaboration with the United Nations (UNDRR) to open on October 13th 2020, a worldwide event focusing on major natural hazards and tsunamis events, followed by an international panel.
Today is November 5th 2020. This is a special day as it is opening another celebration: The World Tsunami awareness Day (WTAD). Those events are not only moments where scientists, institutional decision-makers and politicians are debating about tsunamis aftermaths and causes. We, also, are part of the discussions. Why? Because we all are concerned by tsunamis. The WTAD remembers us the terrible tragedy that happened in 2004 in the Indian Ocean where 230 000 people lost their lives in just a few hours. 230,000 people! Covid-19 is actually killing people in a few months, not hours. The WTAD also remembers us the 2011 tragedy in Japan where an earthquake located in the Pacific Ocean triggered a tsunami which caused a nuclear disaster plus the loss of 24,000 persons.
Tsunamis are natural events but when they hit urbanized coastlines, they can become human, social, industrial and economical catastrophes. Sometimes, real mass killers. But, what I've learnt making the film is that we all have our responsibilities. As an American scientist says in the film, the main problem is that "we are adding layers upon layers of vulnerabilities" by urbanizing coastlines everywhere, in Europe, in Asia, in south and north America. Tsunamis can hit everywhere an ocean is located. They can also happen in lakes as it happened in Switzerland even if those cases are rare. Eruptions can trigger tsunamis as it already happened in 1343 in the Bay of Naples, in Italy, after a Stromboli's flank collapse generated a tsunami that destroyed Naples' harbour yet located 200 km away!
What can we learn from recent scientists’ field research? Can we quickly alert to help populations to reach protected areas? How can we lower tsunamis' aftermaths on human societies? Can we be prepared to face a tsunami?
Scientists are exploring the complexity of the mechanism of tsunamis but also the complexity of social and personal behaviours that lead to safety or to the worst-case scenario. That's why research on tsunamis is systemic. It gathers many sciences, seismology, geology, oceanography, geography, history, social, economics... Each recent disaster but also historical ones help them to better understand, to better analyse, to better tell us what we should take into account to be aware and better prepared to face tsunamis. Here also, what I learnt by making the film is that solutions already exist to lower aftermaths of tsunamis. The best one is education. How can we correctly behave, interact, help others to take quickly the best decision if we are not aware of the possibility that a tsunami happens and not only in Japan or Indonesia, but also in Europe, in the Mediterranean Sea, in the Caribbean, in the West coastline of Canada, USA, South of America, etc.? Education provides consciousness and comprehension. Best alert systems based on local seismic faults studies will always be more efficient if people can also observe by themselves, understand what is happening and can react properly.
Thank you for your attention, best wishes and take care,