A Havenworlder finds out that even after reaching the Information Age, with early-warning systems and all the other resources available to a species at such a level of development, tsunamis (“The term refers to several million tonnes of water traveling at two hundred meters per second.”) still killed an average of seven thousand people consistently, every year, over four decades
(last four from 2015)
Th’k’x had to wear full health monitors and have a Medik on standby, just to access the records on Humans. She could understand why, of course. Her species were notoriously fragile. Humans called her people Mayflies, and on the rare occasions when they accidentally shared space, deliberately maintained a non-threat posture until the Rithrong in question was able to safely leave the area.
Exposure to tougher life forms helped toughen up her own species. Epigenetics and some form of molecular osmosis had its invisible hands in the process.
So, once a week, young Rithrong like herself strapped themselves in and worked on the process. The trick was to endure without endangering their own life.
This week’s exercise was Terran History.
Th’k’x gingerly tapped the ‘commence’ key.
“The very geography of Earth is hostile to life as we know it. Frequent eruptions of the surface crust cause phenomena called ‘earthquakes’ and ‘volcanoes‘.”
Alarming footage of the very ground moving like a wave. And fire -no- molten rock spewing from the top of a mountain. Th’k’x began her breathing exercises.
“Amber,” said Technician Riilg’r. Her job was to monitor Th’k’x life signs and not the lesson.
“Thank you,” Th’k’x pressed the button that would gentle the lesson, and made sure she red-flagged the pictures of molten rock.
“Some consequences of these crust disturbances included semi-toxic clouds, collapses or upheavals in the ocean floor, and violent disturbances of the oceans themselves.”
Ancient, grainy footage of a bay emptying of all its water. Colour footage of a large wave swamping a walkway full of humans. Text crawled across the bottom of the screen: All humans survived this.
“The most violent of these ocean disturbances is called a ‘tsunami’. An ancient Terran word meaning ‘ocean wave’.” A cartoon explained how large volumes of water would build up into an enormous wave that could wipe entire towns from the scenery. It was less real as a cartoon. Less terrifying.
“It wasn’t until the early twenty-first century that humans developed a warning system advanced enough to allow for evacuation of threatened areas.” More graphical information. A map showing an underwater earthquake. Radiating red lines indicating the threatened zones and a series of exclamation marks in yellow triangles.
“Unfortunately, owing to teething troubles with the system, humans soon learned to ignore these warnings. This lead to many preventable deaths.”
“REDLINE!” Riilg’r shrieked, hitting the cut-off button.
Soothing, meditative chimes sounded and relaxing light-shows filled the booth.
Th’k’x tried and failed to think of anything else but the implications of what she had seen. “They had so many wrong warnings… they didn’t bother with the real ones. They didn’t bother to play safely.”
“Yes,” cooed Riilg’r. “This is why humans are classified insane as a species.