Posts in the category »  Opinion «  ( 14 Posts )

  • Shaky Ground: Check out the new seismology-fantasy-mystery-science-novel by Sharon Kae Reamer

    Shaky Ground is the new novel in Sharon Kae Reamers Schattenreich series. You’ve probably read Primary Fault, so you’re familiar with seismologist Caitlin and her adventures in Cologne. In this case, you will probably head towards your local book store now or you might be happy to find this Amazon link. If not, check out the story about science, fantasy, and the Cologne “Klüngel” and tell us how you liked it in the comment section! You might know the author not only from her novel, but also from her science... more

  • Has Roger Bilham been deported from India because of his seismic hazard warnings?

    A new story came up recently that sounds like the L’Aquila case, but the other way round. Dr. Roger Bilham from the University of Colorado, a well-known earthquake researcher, was denied entry to India earlier this year. He was on a flight to Bhutan and supposed to change planes in New Delhi when Indian officials sent him back to the plane he just arrived on. Officially, he was accused with having the wrong type of visa. Himself and many colleagues, however, are sure that he was deported because he stated that the seismic hazard in India is underestimated. more

  • Things that cause earthquakes

    So many things are said to cause earthquakes, things have become a little complex during the last years. For many people it might be hard to remember all of them and you will probably ask yourself “What can I do to avoid finding myself having caused a seismic event by accident?” Here’s help. I prepared a list with no claim to completeness of things that might cause earthquakes. Some are already well-known, some were suprising to me. Recently, chancellor Angela Merkel said she’s against equal taxation for gay and straight couples. I guess this can only be interpretetd as an attempt to minimize seismic hazard in Germany, everything else would be ridiculous…

    What’s your favorite? What’s missing? more

  • Catch 22

    In the wake of the verdict in the L’Aquila earthquake trial big words were not spared. Is this a “battle between science and politics”? Is the decision taken “more reminiscent of Dark Ages magical thinking than modern scientific understanding”? Is this trial “likened to persecution of Galileo”? In reaction to the verdict, a common tendency in the earth science and risk community seems to move towards a ‘withdrawal’ from our commitment to society. But is this the right thing to do?

    This short-sighted verdict may indeed very well alienate society’s strongest ally when it comes to safeguarding society against potential dramatic consequences of earthquakes. But is society helped when scientists systematically overexaggerate the potential hazard to cover themselves against possible legal consequences? Such attitude would completely erode the credibility of science. And when a hazard becomes really serious, society will turn a deaf ear to the advice of the scientists. Society isn’t helped either when scientists withdraw in their academic ‘ivory towers’ and completely ignore their societal role. This would only give ‘charlatans’ carte blanche to preach doom.

    Eventually, scientists do not have a choice! Scientists have to stick to their responsibility towards society. In risk communication they will have to be as clear and honest as possible, but without devaluing the nuance inherent to science. Scientists have to keep confronting authorities that run away from their responsibilities. And scientists will have to keep investing in an ‘informed citizenry’, to provide them all necessary tools to become aware and resilient with respect to the inevitable earthquake. But at the end, scientists should be able to say and write freely and unconditionally wherever their science leads them!