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2011 Tohoku Earthquake

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The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan were considered as one of the worst disasters that hit any country in the world. This disaster also affected various parts in Japan particularly the northern areas like the Ibaragi, Fukushima, Miyagi, and Sanriku. Disaster agencies have measured the 2011 earthquake to be around 9.0 in terms of magnitude and specifically occurred at an estimated depth of 24 kilometers (Japan Meteorological Agency, 2011). The earthquake ranked in the 4th spot as the most destructive in the world in terms of its magnitude following Alaska’s 1964 with a magnitude of 9.2, Sumatra’s 2004 with a magnitude of 9.3 and Chile’s 1960 with a magnitude of 9.5. Meanwhile, the EWS or the early warning system of the earthquake was activated after detecting the very first P-wave that lasted for 8 seconds. The tsunami that claimed lives and destroyed millions of properties had recorded a height of around 39 meters. Area of inundation of the 2011 disaster was primarily projected by the GIA or the Geospatial Information Agency based on satellite photographs and aerial imagery. Meanwhile, field survey after the tsunami was performed on March of 2011 up to the next month. It was planned as an aspect of the collaborative survey and the data have been incorporated into a single outcome.

In the meantime, heights of tsunami along the coastlines of Sendai Bay reached almost 10 meters with run-up distances in extending up to 4 kilometers. With these recorded tsunami heights, it is significant that the government will be able to adopt measures related to mitigation and protection against the hazards while promoting education efforts to avoid the loss of life. Interestingly, the waves and their period during the 2011 disaster can be approximated at around 60 minutes utilizing the source’ water depth and size. The waves significantly overtook walls created against tsunamis causing significant damage by the tough currents with the run-up along the rivers and the zones of inundation. In the like manner, the disaster flooded up to five kilometers the plain of Sendai. Tsunami flow reached critical conditions in majority of the affected areas that caused major damage. Videos and photos reported that huge waves attacked the area while data recorded by GPS, tidal gauges and pressure sensors for deep sea monitoring also helped (Normilem, 2011). Impacts of the Disaster

Seismic waves were recorded on the day of the tsunami at up to 22 seconds before the earthquake was finally felt by the affected areas or before the P waves’ arrival. Likewise, some shelters for tsunami victims were also inundated by floods resulting to the scarcity of areas to evacuate people. The tsunami also destroyed areas external to the danger zones as showed by hazard maps that explained the difficulty of making scientific predictions. Well-prepared plans related to evacuation as well as regular drills could have resulted to the speedy relocation of people. Hence, the warnings and evacuations plans prepared by the government are not enough to rescue more people to safety resulting to more deaths.

The impact of the earthquake and tsunamis however are immeasurable that resulted to the overwhelmed response of the government agencies involved especially in the aspect of preparing the needed resources to evacuate people. It is also significant to note that the disaster destroyed major infrastructures like roads and bridges that added to the problem of evacuation and made warning systems to be ineffective due to the lack of channels for them to be communicated. The economic impact of the twin disasters that hit Japan was also felt with the sudden drop of the country’s international trading activities. In particular, exports of goods were affected with the lack of production from the regions affected resulting to the reduction of economic output. Resources from the affected regions were also depleted with the focus of the government in helping evacuees and restoration of major infrastructures like telecommunication lines, bridges and roads.

The damages created by the earthquake and the succeeding tsunami were massive with majority of the damage being brought about by tsunami. Footages of the affected regions and towns which were largely impacted showed no structures left after the tsunami. Initially, the cost of the damage was estimated to reach $10 billion after photos from the air showed significant damage to several regions. Despite of the fact that the country has significantly invested on seawalls that could combat tsunamis which covered almost 40 percent of the country’s coastline, the devastating tsunami basically run over against the seawalls that collapsed most of them in the process. Meanwhile, the national police agency estimated 46,000 buildings were shattered while 145,000 were extremely damaged by the tsunami and the earthquake with an estimated 24 million tons of debris and rubble created. Water systems were also negatively impacted with the damages experienced by Sukugawa’s Fujinum irrigation dam that caused inundation and washing out of approximately six homes in the process. It was reported that some people tried repairing the leaks on the dam before it collapsed. Several dams in the country also had significant cracks on their bodies after the devastation. Access to water has been lost by approximately 2 million households (United States Geological Survey, 2011).

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade estimated that 5 million households were affected by the electricity shutdown of TEP or the Tohoku Electric Power. Power plants engaged n conventional and nuclear power were also shutdown after the tremor that reduced the distributor’s capacity to 22 gigawatts. Occasional blackouts were also experienced due to the shortages in the power sector caused primarily by the earthquake. The capital city was also affected by the blackouts since its power source comes from the prefectures of Fukushima and Niigata which were largely damaged by the earthquake. Reactors in the mentioned prefectures were damaged extremely by the earthquake that caused leaks and forced the management to shut them down temporarily. On the country’s network of transportation, several disruptions were experienced especially in major thoroughfares like the Tohoku Expressway which was closed to traffic due to its devastation. Likewise, train services were suspended in various parts of the country with 30,000 people being stranded in all major stations especially in the city of Tohoku. The tsunami also flooded the airport of Sendai that cause services to be halted due to the damage it experienced. Haneda and Narita airports also suspended operations temporarily but resumed operations after 24 hours. Ethical and Social Issues

The manner with which people perceived their duties in the determination of effects of climate change is of meaningful significance in the aspect of adaptation, policy-making and the mitigation of the effects of climate change. Nevertheless, most people view climate change as an isolated problem and not really of personal concern. Significant forms of visual communications could effectively illustrate the futures of climate change as it could aid in bridging the existing gap among abstract concepts and the experiences of everyday life, providing a clear individual and local relevance with regard to the issue of climate change especially in the wake of the devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Visualization tools that are aided by the computer provide promising potentials as a manner of engaging diverse groups of society related to the issue. Going green could be identified as the idea of being involved in environmental activities to save our dying planet from climate change and global warming. It is a movement engaged in a number of causes like planting of trees, recycling, solid waste management and protection of marine, air and land species.

In the same sense, the movement is involved in changing the mindset of people globally in terms of their relationship and treatment of the environment. As such, it has a mission of educating people and pushing world leaders about the necessity to save the environment by outlining the negative effects of inaction against the ills of the environment. Going Green has the main objective of enlightening people’s consciousness about the present state of the environment. They provide lectures on how to live in a manner that is environment friendly by means of utilizing world resources efficiently. In the like manner, they are also engaged in various pro-environment initiatives by teaching homeowners about the significance of saving energy that largely contributes to the present ills faced by our planet. More importantly, it is interested in the dissemination of information in relation to the vital role of disposing wastes properly in reducing the cost of global climate change. To be specific, the organization performs these duties with the use of various tools or approaches of visual communication which allow it to effectively converse with the world.

Information graphics or popularly known as infographics are types of visual illustrations of data, knowledge, or information. Graphics are primarily employed to effectively and quickly represent complex information such as in the areas of technical writing, education, maps, journalism and signs. They are also extensively utilized by statisticians, mathematicians and computer scientists in aiding the procedures associated with the development and communication of conceptual information. At present, the deployment of information graphics is rampant in the media, in both scientific and pedestrian published works, in manuals and even in road signs. Newspapers also necessitate the services of infographics by serving the graphical analysis of showing the weather situation including site plans and maps for remarkable events and charts for statistical analysis. In addition, route maps that were primarily deployed in systems of transportation apply techniques of information graphics to incorporate diversified information such as the abstract layout of local landmarks, transit points and transit networks.

Design of information graphics has a big impact about the arrangement, choice and presentation of information to the concerned public or audience. Graphics of information are primarily aimed at informing the public by means of supporting an existing textual presentation or a sealed construct by covering a subject completely as they are considered as visual accounts of data, knowledge and information. In addition, information graphics have usually offered the role as a builder of precision in the area of visual communication. Through lucidity and the predisposition towards objectivity, information graphics have developed the empirical and institutional virtues of design. Presently, majority of newspapers are employing a number of graphics reporters for the development of information graphics for the purpose of enhancing the manner of reporting stories in a more visual manner for the readers. Print graphics are in a number of types including bar and pie charts to represent statistical information, maps and explanatory diagrams. These types of information graphics would be effective in addressing the issues about the environment which is the main aim of Going Green especially in encouraging people to act for the sake of the planet.

A number of advocates in favor for the objectivity of information graphics argued that information design must be approach with content and incorporate elements of color and form in relation to the information being presented. In this case, design advocates supported the idea that the reasoning of design must coincide to scientific reasoning. They added that information graphics must be performing an objective stance for the purpose of developing integrity. Therefore, there must be careful analysis of the objective design as information graphics play major roles in maintaining the veracity and integrity of data. The visualization tool presented by information graphics is also widely utilized in the aspects of visual storytelling primarily seen in news broadcasts. In particular, explanatory illustrations or numerical displays are frequently employed to improve the broadcasting of news by taking the viewers to information that is not capably processed by the video camera. Maps have provided a significant function in the reporting of broadcast news especially for the reporting of the situation of the environment, the climate or the weather situation.

They are relevant to the proper monitoring of the current situation of the global climate. The incorporation of maps into the production of broadcast news often improves the ability of a viewer to visualize and understand the significance or impact of a particular story, which, in this case, is highly significant in enlightening people about the present condition of the environment where we live in. Maps could effectively show disaster prone areas which are predicted to be endangered with the effects of global warming or climate change. Three different types of signs exist namely indexical, symbolic and iconic. These signs are ought to be learned but there are varying paces to comprehend these types of signs. Viewing indexical, iconic and symbolic signs is a manner of consciously looking or studying a visual message in a critical and thorough approach. Once this procedure is executed, it could be realize that even the simplest image have its own complex image culturally. Meanwhile, iconic signs are the easiest to understand because they strictly resemble the things that they represent.

An aspect of the great efficiency of symbols can be seen in the so-called visual compactness, which refers to the actuality that various meanings or messages could be understood with the performance of an action on the side of the user known as observation. A crucial example would be maps that are simply defined as very organized amalgamation of symbols that are normally explained with the use of a legend that guides a viewer to quickly understand a particular geography of a place. In the like manner, symbols that are extensively employed for a number of purposes are in existence to represent a particular concept with a particular purpose. Symbology is known as the study of symbols and was rooted from the field of semiotics engaged in the examination of icons and symbols from a linguistic standpoint with the exploration of their origins and structural elements. This field focuses on symbols as movers of meaning by largely considering the framework wherein symbols emerge including their relationship with a number of cultural rituals or practices. In considering this method in the milieu of information and communications technology, the study of symbols was ultimately became a topic of discussion especially about the icons of designs and user interface governing the interaction among users with the utilization of software.

Symbols and signs are widely employed as tools in mitigating the extent or impact of climate change to the global environment. They provide the easiness in terms of understanding the different aspects of climate change and environmental deterioration that could be employed by Going Green in its efforts to educate people about the impact of inaction against the ills of the environment. Likewise, they have provided the audience the instruction or guidance with regard to the proper treatment of the environment. The environment of visual communication has proposed a new concept for human collaboration with the birth of virtual technologies spearheaded by video texture mapping technologies and 3D computer graphics. They have both empowered the user with the creation of an interactive and shared environment for multipurpose visual communication (Suzuki, Sugawara and Moriuchi, n.d.). In line with this, the extent of climate change and the views of people about it offer challenges for the steady communication of the problem by presenting a message that is motivating.

Visualization is known to have an enormous potential that is employed more comprehensively as a method of communicating and stimulating the willingness of the public to actively engage in the issue of climate change. The world is gradually undergoing an image revolution including the explosion of the visual media, existing instances of research regarding environmental visualization, and the increasing capability of generating computer aided visualizations. These factors stress the need for the employment or application of visual approach. Other benefits of presenting images include the capability to express motivating messages that are easily remembered, reduction of complex information and the communication of innovative content. These benefits offer the foundation for the growth of personal conversations and thoughts that largely contribute to people’s awareness and memory regarding an issue. They also have the opportunity to communicate their ideas instantly with the use of various contexts and media.

The media is considered as the most reliable source of information when talking about the issues of climate change or the deterioration of the environment. Interest groups engaged in environmental causes spend substantial resources using the media for the purpose of enticing supporters making visual appeals contributing essential roles. Visual imagery is also a major aspect for educating people about the state of the environment and in advertising purposes for instance. These great examples reinforced with the developments in information technology including access to the Internet and a number of desktop virtual environments provide additional possibilities for the development of communication regarding climate change and the eventual participation of the public (Nicholson-Cole, 2004). With the continuous development of information technology, the increasing flow of pictures and images is evident showing both the authenticity and fundamental realities seen in the media making it a good motive to be applied in climate change mitigation. As such, the science of present-day communication depends heavily on the visual demonstration for the clarification of data, effective illustration of concepts, and engaging the public for the dissemination of information with the continuous arsenal of new media tools and computer graphics (Edwards, 2007).

Visualization of images is now being employed in a variety of fields including landscape visualization for the purposes of generating plans and decisions. This is due in part to the scenic or visual quality which stands as the significant component in relating with the natural environment that made visual assessment as the major tool for planning exercises that are participatory including the assessments made for the quality of landscape. Visual communication through images is also known to be a vital part of the environmental decision-making process. The technology of visualization is also incorporated in a number of researches as an ingredient for the preferences and design of landscape. In this sense, computer visualizations are obvious to possess the inert capacity to demonstrate the images of local landscapes given the vast number of climate change conditions that would give people the capacity to ponder on the possible futures of global climate change and its relationships with various activities of different kinds.


Edwards, T., (2007). The Power of Symbols. MultiLingual. http://web.ebscohost.com/ehost/pdf?vid=4&hid=112&sid=32ac6590-9b0d-4db9-bcac-69de0af7b097%40sessionmgr113 Japan Meteorological Agency (2011), Tsunami information (observation) issued 12 March 2011, retrieved 14 March 2011. (Tohoku district.) Archived 18 April 2011 at WebCite Normilem, D. (2011), Scientific Consensus on Great Quake Came Too Late, Science, 332, 22-23. Tsunami Engineering Laboratory in Tohoku University (2011), http://www.tsunami.civil.tohoku.ac.jp/hokusai3/J/index.html

Suzuki, G., Sugawara, S., and Moriuchi, M., (n.d.). Visual Communication Environment using Virtual Space Technology. NTT Human Interface Laboratories. United States Geological Survey (2011) Earthquake Report, http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2011/usc0001xgp/

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