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Matt Ridley is the author of provocative books on evolution, genetics and society. His books have sold over a million copies, been translated into thirty languages, and have won several awards.

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Wealth and technology make the death toll smaller, not larger

The biggest natural killers of the last decade -- Haiti's earthquake, Burma's cyclone and Sumatra's tsunami -- were all far, far more lethal because they struck poor countries.

Robert Hardman in the Daily Mail writes:

Of course, the modern world is better equipped than the ancients to survive these cataclysmic disasters. We have stronger buildings, better communications and international aid agencies to help the recovery process. But older societies had a more realistic sense of their place in the world.

Which would you rather have? A more realistic sense of your place in the world -- or your life? The remarkable thing about the Japanese earthquake and tsunami is how many more they would have killed if Japan had still been a poor country.

The biggest natural killers of the last decade -- Haiti's earthquake, Burma's cyclone and Sumatra's tsunami -- were all far, far more lethal because they struck poor countries.

Here is a reminder. (hat tip Real Science)