Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What fools these mortals be

I've written about this phenomenon before -- people building their houses and farms on the slopes of active volcanoes, eroding barrier beaches, forests that burn every few decades . . .

It turns out geologists have known for decades that hillside in Snohomish county was going to collapse. Geomorphologist Dan Miller, who filed a report for the Washington Department of Ecology in 1997 predicting the disaster that just happened,

could not believe what he saw in 2006, when he returned to the hill within weeks of a landslide that crashed into and plugged the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, creating a new channel that threatened homes on a street called Steelhead Drive. Instead of seeing homes being vacated, he saw carpenters building new ones.“Frankly, I was shocked that the county permitted any building across from the river,” he said. “We’ve known that it’s been failing,” he said of the hill. “It’s not unknown that this hazard exists.”

Yet one local homeowner, who happened not to be home at the time, said:

“That’s like saying the river is going to flood,” Wood said. “If the hillsides were going to slough away, they were going to slough away. That’s kind of what happens around here.”

Well yeah. But does that mean you shouldn't care about it happening to you? It's a mystery.

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