Seismic risk mitigation is the greatest urban policy challenge the world confronts today. If you consider that too strong a claim, try to imagine another way in which bad urban policy could kill a million people in 30 seconds. Yet the politics of earthquakes are rarely discussed and, when discussed, widely misunderstood.
Take Japan’s Sendai earthquake on March 11, which released 600 million times the energy of the Hiroshima bomb. The ensuing partial meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant prompted international hysteria about nuclear power, but few seemed to realize that a far deadlier threat had been averted. As seismologist Roger Bilham aptly put it, houses in seismically active zones are the world’s unrecognized weapons of mass destruction — and Japan’s WMD didn’t go off.… Seguir leyendo »