One of my supervisors, John Mutter, is a seismologist and has a recent post on the CNN blog in response to the earthquake in Haiti.
"Earthquakes don’t kill people; buildings do. And the poorest constructed buildings are inevitably home to the very poorest people. Homes and other structures built way out of safe building code – if codes even exist or are known about, or minimally enforced after the building inspector is bribed for a permit – are built by people who lack the resources to build minimally safe structures if they could."
I think that both him and I find nothing surprising about what has happened in Haiti. This doesn't make it any less tragic, but rather more tragic. The fact that this was at all foreseeable suggests that we can all be guilty of not having helped mitigate risk in advance. The Heifer Project is an organization that promotes development by letting wealthy Americans buy a cow or goat for a family in a poor country. Maybe an organization can enable an American to donate money to pay for rebar in a Haitian home during reconstruction.