by William Teach | September 23, 2017 7:01 am
Envision in your mind, the members of the NY Times editorial board get together, glasses of fancy wine in hand, caviar on the table, linen napkins gleaming white, and the question at hand is how to bash President Trump over the latest Mexico and Japanese earthquakes. Unpaid interns are called in to work the search engines, till one finds something of interest
Mexico Has Some Earthquake Lessons for the United States
People cannot prevent earthquakes, but they can take steps to minimize the deaths and damage. Many more might have died in Mexico City this week had the country not invested in an early warning system that rang alarms just before the catastrophic earthquake struck. The United States, which has been slow to finish a similar system on the West Coast, can learn from Mexico’s example.
(Discussion of what an early warning system can do)
The United States Geological Survey is building a warning system called ShakeAlert for California, Oregon and Washington. A prototype is up and running. But Congress has not appropriated the money to finish it. Officials say just 40 percent of the necessary field stations have been built so far. The Geological Survey says that it would cost $38 million to finish the system and $16 million a year to operate it. Congress appropriated just $10.2 million in the current fiscal year. (California and private foundations have also contributed money to the project over the years.)
Not mentioned is that this is pretty much only viable for magnitude 7 earthquakes and up. It can recognize lower level earthquakes, to be sure. It will only help those in the intermediate range, because those close have no warning, and those further away pretty much do not get damage. That’s per ShakeAlert. Oh, and there other systems that are reported to be much less costly and pretty much as reliable. And California, including Governor Jerry Brown, has been reticent in providing their own funding. Regardless of it all, this is the point
Worse still, President Trump’s budget for the 2018 fiscal year, which is inhospitable to a broad range of science-based projects, proposed eliminating the program entirely. This makes no sense, particularly when you consider that the annual federal budget is about $4 trillion and that the price tag of just one F-35 fighter jet is nearly $100 million. The United States can afford to spend a few million dollars to provide earthquake warnings to states that are home to 50 million people, or nearly one in six Americans.
If it wasn’t this, they’d find another way to bash Trump. That’s what they do.
Is it a worthy project? Perhaps. We’d have to dig into the papers on it, but, if so, why is California not interested in paying for it? Again, it doesn’t matter in context, because this is about attacking Mr. Trump, nothing more, nothing less. The Editorial Board sure didn’t care when Mr. Obama was in office.
Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.
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