Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cascadia's Fault, Not Ours

The movie, “Shock/Wave” shows what will happen when the Cascadia Fault off the northwest coast of the United States slips and causes a magnitude eight or nine megathrust earthquake and up to one hundred foot tsunami waves.  Such a disaster could kill thousands and cause billions of dollars of damage, more damage than Hurricane Katrina and Superstorm Sandy combined.
Local communities are preparing for this eventuality with earthquake safe buildings, evacuation routes, and tsunami drills.  We don’t know when this Act of God/Nature will happen, but we’re getting ready for when it does.  More important, nobody is being blamed for earthquakes.   Saving human lives is the highest priority.
Another imminent disaster on people’s minds is climate change.  We can’t even predict whether this will really be a disaster; the latest [2013] IPCC report omits tipping points, climate refugees, increased storms and droughts, and accelerated sea level rise.  However, much argument and name calling has ensued.  Millions of dollars are being spent on costly mitigation schemes.
Unlike the Cascadia Big One, Climate Change has become politicized and moralized.   When an issue is moralized, someone is to blame.  Actually increased carbon dioxide is blamed for climate change, but since humans and their activities produce the demon gas, they are ultimately to blame – an ugly Malthusian subtext.
It’s unfortunate that we can’t look at climate change in the same way we look at the Cascadia Big One.  Unlike the Big One that will do untold damage in less than an hour, Climate Change will happen gradually.  We have plenty of time to prepare if we don’t waste it arguing, moralizing, and blaming.