It's almost hard to imagine, but experts say the devastation in Japan could have been even worse. Japan has been a leader in earthquake preparedness for decades.
How does a country prepare for an earthquake? Japan has strict building codes to try to help structures withstand earthquakes. They have a sophisticated warning system for natural disasters. Workplaces have emergency procedures in place. Scientists have studied the geography of the region carefully.
Other countries can learn from this catastrophe. Engineers and architects can design buildings and structures that meet guidelines. Geographers and seismologists can study the nature of earthquakes. Oceanographers look at patterns in tsunamis.
Nuclear power can be controversial, and events in Japan have increased concerns about the long-term implications of relying on nuclear power. Is it safe? What if we could develop safer forms of energy? A nuclear event can bring these questions to the forefront. There are growing opportunities in alternative power research.
Workers in many different careers are working to help North America prepare for earthquakes and other natural disasters. There are also steps we can take as individuals in any career.