By this definition, if a comet strikes the earth and wipes us all out, it won't be a disaster. If a tsunami innundates an island and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
The quote certainly points out our egocentric reaction to Mother Nature. But then again, it's hard to not take it personally when it impacts you or your fellow beings. Guess that's part of being human.
Heck, Roxie, if a comet wipes us all out, there will be no one around to call it anything at all.But you know, that tree falling in a forest/tsunami hitting an island follows a similar thought to Tanaka's quote... the real suggestion behind it is that only humans matter. I mean, obviously there are many many creatures in a forest--impossible for a tree to fall without being heard by some creature.