Safe Human Settlement Policy Initiative

Safe Human Settlement Policy Initiative

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The Delicate Balance Between Science and Public Policy: A Case Study

I'll let this article speak for itself, but I found the premise quite thought-provoking.  I watched with visceral anguish from halfway around the world as villages in the mountains of central Italy awoke to devastating damage from an Earthquake in August.  The story was much the same as those that have occurred in other places in recent years (e.g., Nepal, Chile, Haiti), with catastrophic damage to un-reinforced stone and stucco buildings resulting in an equally severe loss of life.  In the case of Italy, quaint traditional architecture along narrow streets literally vanished into piles of dust.  Knowing that a co-worker who (by luck, or lack of it) had happened to land in nearby Rome for a vacation that day added a more personal connection for me. 


Regardless, the article in the Magazine "Science" introduces a policy topic that is related to those discussed previously on this web page and raises additional questions about how best to communicate the dangers associated with geologic hazards to those who may be most affected by it.  Unlike meteorological hazards that we can (often literally) "see coming," earthquakes still occur with little notice.  Preparation and effective mitigation (both physical and logistical), however, are still a critical part of protecting those populations.

[Photo from the article.]