There is a news release posted via Science Daily entitled “Large Earthquakes May Broadcast Warnings, But Is Anyone Tuning In To Listen?”
This is exactly the point I’ve made previously in my series of posts and published in Intermediate States: The Anomalist No. 13. Previously, conventionally, seismologists have concentrated on seismic signals as precursors. That has been less than a resounding success. There was plenty of good data to suggest they should be looking elsewhere. It appears looking elsewhere isn’t too expensive in this case. This is promising news. It would not appear that it is the catch all for accurate prediction for every quake, even every large one because the mechanisms might be unique for some. But, it is a good start to shift the view away from the ground to the air.
The bigger question arises when the observations catch a new signal. What do they do then? Scientific disaster prediction is a horrible, nasty business. If you are unsure about a coming event, do you send out the warning in order to save lives with the potential that you make everyone mad and less trusting if nothing happens. Do you risk economic hardship for people and life disruption that accompanies an evacuation? Or, do you keep quiet and risk the guilt if people die unnecessarily? It’s an extremely hard question.
I believe the answer is one of public understanding of science and community preparation.
If citizens in hazards zones understand the risk and the error potential in prediction, all warnings should be clearly broadcast. No panic should ensue and the public should be prepared to follow a well-planned, secure procedure. Well, what are the odds of that happening? Not under current leadership.
I heard a very forward-thinking idea today from a climate change specialist who said the we should not only be actively working towards alleviating the global warming problem but (perhaps more importantly for the moment) preparing for disasters better than we do now because more are coming. We’ve all see how disgracefully the U.S handles disasters, even when there is adequate time to prepare. There are few valid excuses, in this age of technology, scientific prediction, and mass communication that we can’t get our act together and live through a tsunami, coastal flooding, hurricane, volcanic eruption or earthquake.