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Summer Journal

Volume 27, Issue 3

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Predicting Earthquake Rebuttal

Written by  MICHAEL R. SMITH January 6, 2009

The Fall 2008 Disaster Recovery Journal published an article, “Why Predicting Earthquakes is a Dangerous Idea” in which the author (perhaps unwittingly) applies 19th Century reasoning against warning of tornadoes to warning of earthquakes in the 21st. While the science does not yet allow us to warn of earthquakes, at some future time that scientific capability might exist. So, it is appropriate to ask, “Are earthquake warnings a good idea?” Given sufficient spatial and temporal accuracy, my answer is a resounding, “YES!” To learn why, let’s examine the remarkable track record of the tornado and hurricane warning system and see what parallels might exist with earthquakes. Author Thejendra BS poses this scenario: Imagine a situation where some reliable agency predicts a major quake will hit the city and blasts the warnings through text messages, radio, TV, etc. REALITY: Actually, this is very close to what happens with tornadoes and hurricanes today. The National

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