reply to post by PuterMan
You definitely have a point -- in fact you've made several good ones. It's pretty well undeniable that sooner or later there'll be another huge
quake off the PNW coast. Okay, the next big one might not be a mag 9 but it could well be in the mag 8 range, and even one of those could have some
pretty serious consequences. But sooner or later there's likely to be one near a mag 9. (I know you know that, btw.
So, yes, more should be done; way more money should be spent in preparedness and also in improving both the monitoring and (Japan-style) early warning
However, I very much doubt that without a major change in thinking, the ones who decide where the money goes are not going to make the necessary funds
available -- and in this respect I can see the point that John Vidale has presented vis-a-vis
Japan versus the USA. As he pointed out, the
Japanese have a history of truly terrible quake and tsunami events and as much of their entire nation has long been vunerable, they have long had an
awareness and understanding that it was only a matter of time until the next big one.
At a government, decision-making level they were able to accept this reality and hence invested heavily in an attempt to reduce the impact when the
next big one came along. In that regard, they were largely successful. There are undoubtedly people in Japan who are alive today because of the
various measures that have been put in place over the past several decades.
Yes, perhaps 20,000 people lost their lives in the Tōhoku quake and tsunami, but how many more would have died if there had been no warning system in
place, no sea walls or escape towers, and if the people had not received comprehensive instruction in how to act when a big quake hits?
If I were in John Vidale's shoes I'd probably be incredibly frustrated by the frankly impossible task of trying to convey the importance of this to
the people who can decide to spend the money and do what the Japanese have already done.
I say it's impossible because the authorities who are charged with protection of "the people" just will not confront the reality that is staring
them in the face, because they don't have a recent history of such a major event to recall and drive them on as a motivating force. They pay lip
service to the reality, but whatever funds are allocated are a pittance compared to what would be needed if saving lives (and reducing property
losses) were top priority.
Sadly, it means that probably, nothing truly substantial is going to be done until after the next great quake hits.
When did the funding for upgrading the (Pacific) Tsunami warning system come through? After the 2004 Great Asian Quake and Tsunami.
This will be the same. John Vidale and others like him are doing their best with what they've got and it both saddens and galls me that in spite of
all their efforts, innocent lives will be needlessly lost because those in positions of power just don't want to believe that it can happen!
I feel that the only way to make them listen to experts like John and get them off their collective powerful behinds, face reality and provide the
needed funding, is to present the next great PNW quake as a Matter of National Security (in capitals). Make it a "Defense" issue. (I used US
spelling on purpose there.) Give them reasons why they need to spend money to defend the nation against something that might not happen for decades.
That's how they justify most military spending, after all.
That might work.
Meantime, we can only hope that the next big one won't come along for a good while.
Okay I have to head off to get some work done, but I just want to thank everyone who's been discussing this point. It's a vital matter and I
sincerely hope that John's organization and others involved in this important work at both the research and "nuts and bolts" level will get
realistic levels of funding before it's too late.