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When you know a natural disaster is coming, is it rude, or good manners, to tell people to get ready?
Jerry Thompson is a documentary filmmaker and author of Cascadia's Fault -- The Deadly Earthquake That Will Devastate North America, HarperCollins Canada. After months of hand-wringing, I am authorized to report that North America has moved beyond the pall of doom and gloom to a more pleasant oblivion. Wea€™re partnering with Journalists for Human Rights to offer this three-month paid position. In the aftermath of this megathrust nightmare, we progressed briskly from a "teachable moment" through "disaster fatigue" to more important matters, like the royal wedding and who might replace Charlie Sheen as TV's highest paid actor.
In my recent (and thankfully transient) role as Harbinger of Doom, I had the unhappy task of warning people that a tectonic event just like the one in Japan (and in Sumatra before that) will -- beyond any reasonable scientific doubt -- hit the West Coast of North America.
My book Cascadia's Fault -- The Deadly Earthquake That Will Devastate North America was published this spring, with the intention to wake people up in time to be safer and more resilient when the Big One hits. At first glance Cascadia's threat might seem like a "regional" concern -- which is code for saying "it's just those wacky West Coasters getting all hyperbolic on us again." But actually, it's not. One scientist from NOAA says Cascadia's big quake -- when it finally comes -- will be like five Hurricane Katrinas on the same day. For a more familiar sense of scale, simply cut and paste the subduction zone to somebody else's backyard. If Cascadia's fault started at Windsor, it would tear past Niagara Falls through Toronto and Montreal, most of the way to Quebec City. Cascadia's fault does not appear anywhere near the top of anyone's official list of things to plan for.
Even though Cascadia's magnitude 9 will have a far larger footprint of damage than any of the famous San Andreas disasters, even though the seismic impacts will be worse than five Katrinas -- why get worked-up about something that may not happen on our watch? The voyeuristic adrenalin rush of disaster flicks like Twister, Volcano and Deep Impact never goes away.

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This forum is for talking about non-music-related stuff that the DBT fanbase might be interested in. But other than a few respectful book reviews, the reaction has been weirdly muted, as if people would rather not be bothered with an opportunity to save lives, even, very possibly, their own.
Imagine five major cities -- Vancouver, Victoria, Seattle, Portland and Sacramento, with dozens of smaller towns and villages in between -- slammed all at once by the same earthquake. Unlike the San Andreas, Cascadia's fault can and does rupture along its entire length in a magnitude 9 megathrust.
Shockwaves from this hypothetical fault -- if it began in New York -- would rip through Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Richmond to about Charleston, South Carolina.
Congressional committees in Washington have dithered over hurricanes, Mississippi floods, even the potential New Madrid earthquake -- which would be at least an order of magnitude smaller, with no tsunami attached.
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Whether you are at home, work, or in the car, the actions we take during an earthquake can make a life or death difference. I was trained 35 years ago to refer to them as clients, which was weird at the time, but I became used to it.

With tsunami wave damage across the entire Pacific Rim -- from Hawaii and Alaska to Japan, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand. I put a pencil mark mid-way up Vancouver Island and another at Cape Mendocino, California, creating a paper proxy for Cascadia's fault. I just wish it would all go away." Do you remember when Cher slapped Nicholas Cage in "Moonstruck" and told him to "Snap out of it!"? Think of how cool it would be to see five modern cities knee-deep in bricks and broken glass. We love seeing horrible things happen on the big screen -- whether it's global warming (The Day After Tomorrow) or alien invasions (District 9, Battle Los Angeles or Super 8) or the end of the world (2012) -- and yet almost nobody wants to wrestle with the real thing. E-mail addresses are only used for the purposes of Tyee-related correspondence or comment moderation. Just when the administration realizes you know what your talking about, they move on and new idiots come on board to reinvent the broken wheel.Sounds like the gubment.
When I see someone in an ER that made a suicide attempt, for the most part the only way the term consumer seems appropriate is when you consider the drugs or alcohol they consumed. Disaster on a scale so overwhelming that nothing in our history can serve as a reference point. The special effects would be spectacular, especially when the tsunami starts washing away coastal towns from Canada to California.
The essential question is how well we endure the aftermath -- and that depends entirely on how much we do now to prepare for the inevitable.

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