This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

More People at Risk of Death from Earthquakes

Time flies, and it has been six years now since the National Research Council committee on which I served issued its report on populations at risk, but the issue is of course a huge and growing one. Every year more people are likely to be killed by earthquakes and the problem isn't earthquakes--it is population growth. This is a point made today in a science piece by Becky Oskin on NBC News, building on an article published in this month's issue of the journal Earthquake Spectra.
With the planet's growing population crowding more and more into these earthquake-prone regions, a new study predicts that 3.5 million people will have died in catastrophic earthquakes between 2001 and 2100. The toll will add additional stress to strapped aid agencies, said study author Tom Holzer, a geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif.
"The more people (there are) on the planet, the higher the probability of more catastrophic earthquakes," Holzer told OurAmazingPlanet. "Most earthquakes don't actually kill anybody. What is required is a concentration of people in harm's way."
Four catastrophic quakes (those that kill 50,000 or more people) have already hit since 2001. There was only one per century before 1900, and seven between 1900 and 2000. The total death toll from temblors so far this century is more than 700,000.
I happen to be one of those people living in an earthquake-prone region of the world (California), so I do pay attention to this. You probably should, as well, no matter where you live. The better prepared you are, the greater your resilience to any kind of disaster.

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