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Claire Berlinski
1 Million Dead in 30 Seconds « Back to Story

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Everything you say is true but I am afraid corruption is the norm with all politicians, they are all ruled by big business.
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Some would say that this is where you will catch a treacherous technician, but in my experience, most mechanics are honest. The real problem is that all mechanics are not properly trained. The reason that the automotive repair industry gets such a bad rap is because an improperly trained mechanic can often be confused with a lying mechanic because the net result is that you get something that you did not want and did not need.
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So just how did Obama raise those massive numbers from his master list of donors? The Washington Post says of Obama, Along with thousands of first-time donors who sent $50 or $100 from their home computers, the report is to list scores of long time political insiders who funneled stacks of $2,300 checks to Obama's accounts. The campaign announced earlier this month that Obama has received money from more than 100,000 people, including 50,000 Internet donors

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An article about subpar concrete rebarring in Chinese construction, which supports Ms. Berlinski views.

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Well researched and thought provoking article. This can come only from a person who is sensitive, knowledgable and passionate about the subject. Thanks.
Prof. Amit Bose
I suppose, this kind of articles based on hardcore objective realities and experiences are required and dissminated more often across paricularly the decision makers, among engineers and arhetects and policy makers to to wake them up to the ralities of earthquake risks which is on constant rise in our rapidly expanding cities. Truely a very effective article and speaks boldly about the reality of our times.
Bogotá, Cairo, Caracas, Dhaka, Islamabad, Istanbul, Jakarta, Karachi, Kathmandu, Lima, Manila, Mexico City, New Delhi, Quito, Tehran?

And nothing of value was lost.
Suppose you asked people in Chile and Turkey the following question (adapted to local currencies, and/or controlling for [already similar] GDPs):

"Which would you prefer? $45 in three days, or $70 in three months?"

Would Turks show a greater time preference (for the present) than Chileans would?

Might fatalism, induced by political conditions, explain this time preference? Or would a cultural time preference cause political conditions that explain fatalism?
Just a technical note. You've used the term "cement" in your article when it seems clear that you meant to use "concrete". If concrete were bread, cement would be the yeast. Yeast is not tasty or nourishing on its own, but rather only really useful as a element of a more complex system.

Concrete consists of cement, sand, gravel and water (and other admixtures). Building are built of concrete of which a component is cement. One does not "water-down" cement with sand, but rather alter the concrete mix by adding more sand (reducing the percentage of cement in the mix).
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geez. that's so scary.

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I'd like to think that being ensconced inside a two-story apartment in SoCal would protect me when from an earthquake. Come to think of it, no. I remember that the Northridge earthquake killed 16 people in just one apartment building. The building simply pancaked. It's not the height one should worry about the most. It's the integrity of the structure and the strength of the ground your house is built on. You may live in a single-story bungalow, but if it's sitting on sand? An earthquake could easily move the foundation of the house and collapse the entire house. Port-au-Prince wasn't built up like Manhattan; it's more like LA. That's the scary realization.
The answer is simple. Move to where the earthquakes aren't!!!![/samkinesson]
Add Taipei, Taiwan to that list in the final paragraph.
Fine piece of writing. It will be terrible to reread when the next big quake has destroyed an unprepared city.

Excellent article. Thank you.
Great article. Any citations or thought about earthquakes in africa?
Dick Olango, architect aoadjp.blogpost.com
I don't personally believe in the Rapture or 2012 but, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding are still very real threats. At this very moment, people around the world are faced with life threatening and life changing events. For them, it is the end of the world, no matter how local or personal it may be.

People should prepare for the worst by storing food for up to a year or more, putting together bug out bags to keep by the door and have a plan worked out ahead of time:

http://www.familysurvivalcenter.com/supplies.htm

Those who have found themselves confronted by earthquakes, tsunamis, radiation, tornados and floods in the recent few months past certainly would have benefited by some planning and preparation ahead of time.
An excellent root cause analysis of why the world suffers so many earthquake deaths.

One detail that Claire Berlinski hinted at but didn't elaborate is the complacency of the press. Yes, it was mentioned as not giving the attention to earthquake preparedness that it should, but the big problem with the press is it refuses to address the root causes of why certain regions suffer more earthquake related deaths than others. Essentially the press, for failure to bring this problem to light, is just as guilty of the deaths of countless earthquake victims as the corruption that enables the building of unsound structures in earthquake zones.
Interesting article. It brings to mind the Al Gore and green mentally of socially engineering the end of the suburbs...ie STOP URBAN SPRAWL". I'm almost certain the concept has been embraced by the present administration and the Democrats. Forcing large populations into high rises and large cities most certainly has many down sides to humans, not the least of being spread of diseases and crime. These Utopias will of course not be Utopias, and create far more harm than good and a anyone with even a semblance of concern for people instead of their new- found green religion would know that.

It seems clear to me that when science becomes political, it is no longer science.
Holly Ruffgarden July 31, 2011 at 7:31 PM
Great article. I live in Christchurch, New Zealand, have been here for all our big quakes and am grateful to be alive. I have survived mainly because I am lucky enough to live in one of the least corrupt countries in the world.
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SERÇİL TOKOĞLU July 26, 2011 at 9:00 AM
ı THİNK THİS ARTİCLE HAS BEEN WELL WRİTTEN .
As a resident of Istanbul, I completely agree with the author. I fear a major catastrophe is indeed on its way and the consequences will be devastating for both Istanbul and Turkey. Oh, and being a Turkish citizen for 22 years, I can guarantee you NOTHING will be done until that long-feared earthquake destroys Istanbul. And I doubt if anything will be done afterwards...
Thanks for such an informative article. I have always thought Chile would be a nice place to visit and possibly live. You have only reinforced my thougt to at least visit. And to know there seems to be a lot of integrity in the judicial system is such a nice thing to read.

I grew up in a construction household in Florida and if the average person had any idea about the corruption taking place in their backyards they would definitely be chagrined and disgusted. My father left the business after most of us had grown up and left home. He said he just got fed up with losing jobs to business crooks and corrupt government officials. I don't think he was alone in his thinking.
This is an extraordinarily good article with such astute analysis of the way the legal system works and its interaction with either politics or corporations. I am an injury lawyer in Los Angeles who works entirely with landlord building issues, and I applaud you for writing this. We badly need it to come to the attention of each country you mention where this is a potentially devastating problem. You have taken a great first step. Thank you so much.

Question is - what do we do next?
Bakırköy, where I live, will not see a single building standing if a major quake strikes The City. A million dead will be a miracle of God's grace.
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London would have had a million inhabitants by 1812. But only just.
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I really enjoyed learning more about this terrifying topic.

Could the author or a helpful fellow reader recommend some books related to the possible effects of the next big quake in one of the cities Claire mentions? I am particularly interested in the effects on settlement housing (e.g. the gecekondu), but have encountered difficult finding quality, recent publications in English.
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A sobering reminder that eternity is just a fault-slip away for vast numbers of human beings around the world. I myself live in The Big One zone--30 miles from the San Andreas--and have been through 3 significant quakes, although not T.B.O. The cold comfort here is that the fatalities do not have to deal with the aftermath, which the survivors do: injuries, loss of loved ones, loss of places of employment, stoppage of all manner of services taken for granted in stable times.

Yes, we must do more to reduce damage in our cities, but while we can reduce the death toll, we can not reduce the death *rate*: it already stands at 100%. Even war only conglomerates death, but does not increase the rate. We are all fellow passengers to the grave." C. Dickens
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Great substantive and informed articles always from Claire.

This one IF read widely may save thousands of lives. I know I will travel more cautiously in any of the mentioned cities and advise others as well.

God Bless you !
B. Samuel Davis July 18, 2011 at 1:27 PM
I take an amateur's interest in ancient Roman history, and what has surprised me is the large number of earthquakes described by the ancient writers, especially in the area around today's Turkey, Lebanon and Syria. By comparison we are living in a time of relative quiet.
Lisbon may be next on that list, the great earthquake of 1755 combined with a tsunami and fire shocked Europe, but today the situation might not be very different from Istanbul
Great article; written with convincing passion and experience. Ms Berlinski clearly identifies in strong layman's terms some major "preventable" problems concerning earthquake.

I especially, related to the issue of political "corruption" in construction as major problems. I thank her for educating me about things I did not appreciate as so important.
Amazing that Hagia Sophia built in the 6th century is still standing. Why is that, what do you think?
You are so right. I landed at Haneda Airport the evening of 3/11, was in one of the last planes to land there. The next day I was shocked there was no visible damage in Tokyo. After several large aftershocks I felt way safer there then I do where I live. Which is Southern California.

When a quake of less magnitude hits here, and it will, there will be way more earthquake damage than was in Japan in March. While big buildings are built for protection, the majority of residential and small business buildings will fail. Especially the large number of older houses and apartments. Even though I have lived here all my life and have experienced most of the large quakes here, I am going to move. I have been convinced.
Claire, for heaven's sake, LEAVE!
Excellent article. Thanks for the tip towards the corruption and disaster study. Nit-picking department: When I lived in Turkey, earthquakes were "zerzele," not "deprem." I think deprem means more like "moving" or "shaking."