If you go to the Wikipedia entry “List of Natural Disasters by Death Toll”, you first see a box with the following words: “This entry may be too long”.
For example, they list over 4,300,000 deaths from earthquakes, over 700,000 deaths from sunamis, over 3,000,000 deaths from cyclones and hurricanes, over 7,000,000 deaths from floods, and over 200,000 deaths from volcanoes. And it is not a complete list, I am sure. But at least 15,000,000.
But this total pales in comparison to man-made disasters, namely war.
World War II alone claimed 40 to 70 million deaths, the An Shi revolution in China (whatever that was) claimed over 30 million, the Mongol conquests up to 60,000,000 and the Manchu takeover of the Ming in China about 25,000,000, the 19th century Taiping rebellion in China over 20 million, World War I between 20 million and 60 million. And there were millions of people killed in the conquests by Tamerlane, the Russian civil war, the Congo War, the Napoleanic Wars, the Thirty Years War, Korea, Vietnam, the Soviet war in Afghanistan and others. And that doesn’t count the millions who died in Soviet repression, Native American repression, the Atlantic and Arab slave trades, man-made famines, the partition of India and all of the other political, non-military examples of repression and inhumanity.
So when we hear of a suicide bomb killing 28 (as we heard today of Iraq), or a few people killed in a Gaza/Israeli skirmish, or even a few hundred in recent troubles in Kenya………..pebbles in the lake, hardly causing a ripple in the great scheme of things.
Ah, but that is the question. Is there a great scheme of things?