YOGYAKARTA – The recent disasters that occurred in various areas of Indonesia – volcanic eruptions, floods, landslides – call for quick response from government and community solidarity. “We hope the government would take swift actions in giving response, not getting trapped in the business as usual norm amidst this extraordinary situation,” said Rector of UGM, Prof. Dr. Pratikno, M.Sc., Ph.D., in his remarks during the graduation ceremony of graduate students in Grha Sabha Pramana, Thursday (23/1).
Pratikno said the over 3-months eruption of Mt. Sinabung has severely affected people in four sub-districts, sending them to shelters.
Universitas Gadjah Mada, Pratikno said, has the Disaster Response Unit (DERU) that gives rapid humanitarian work. As already known, DERU has sent a team to Sinabung, Bekasi and Karawang. UGM will even send students for community service programme specially to deal with disasters.
The location of Indonesia in the Pacific Ring of Fire, according to Pratikno has the possibility for geophysical disasters in the form of tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, lahars, subsidences, mudflows, or landslides.
Volcanic eruptions are the biggest disaster in history. The eruption of Mt. Toba in 73 thousands of years ago discharged 2,800 cubic kilometer materials. “It changed the earth’s temperature for almost a decade and it created the Lake Toba that we now see,” said he.
Another volcanic eruption that occured in Mt Tambora in 1815 had killed three kingdoms, Tambora, Pekat, and Sanggar in West Nusa Tenggara. Volcanic ash and sulphur gas were flown across the world, reducing the global temperature by 3 degrees. The north and south hemispheres did not experience summer and the failed crops in the following year in Europe and Canada. “The most severe hunger in history happened in Europe and the world,” he said.
Although the eruption of Tambora has created sufferings for the world community, this also pushed the birth of innovations. The rapid season change in Europe made the unavailability of horse feed. In Germany, horseless transportation modes were eventually developed, which led to the birth of bycicle.
Disasters can be a trigger for resilience of a nation. On the other hand, according to Pratikno, natural abundance is the biggest tempation that can slump down a nation. “Let’s not make ours an uninnovative nation just because we’re rich in natural resources. Korea, due to the poor natural resources it holds, became a creative nation. Learning the lesson from the disasters, we became a resilient and creative nation, exploring our natural resources potential,” he said.