It’s only human nature that when there is damage, destruction and death we look for someone to blame and vainly seek assurances that such a thing will never happen again.
So when there’s a natural disaster, what insurance companies call an ‘act of God’, we should all point skywards accusingly exclaiming ‘why has thou forsaken us?’ or words to that effect.
The buck should stop with the deity but we know by now that s/he moves in mysterious ways and remains a hidden and, I would argue, non-existent presence.
A tsunami is not the same as burst water main in that we can’t put the cause down to negligence. Scientists do their level best to keep tabs on where the next twister, quake, drought or downpour will occur but it’s a thankless task as, for the most, we are seemingly at the mercy of natural elements and celestial forces.
Identifying the design flaws in the higher power’s grand design is of little consolation to those whose lives are blighted when disaster strikes.
It is a widely accepted scientific fact that there is no way to accurately predict an earthquake – all that be done is to identify zones of high seismic risk and try to plan accordingly by making buildings safer .
All of which didn’t prevent a court sentencing six Italian scientists to six years in prison for giving a “falsely reassuring statement” before the quake of 6.3 magnitude in L’Aquila which claimed 309 lives in 2009. The six were found guilty of manslaughter.
“Finally some justice, I hope this never happens again” said the mother of one of those killed in L’Aquila. The pain and anguish of those affected by the event is understandable but the decision flies in the face of logic and sets an absurd and dangerous precedent.
Science alert states that had the scientist actually issued a warning of a major earthquake they would have had a 98% chance of being wrong. In the equally unlikely event that there is a God, s/he is probably relieved that someone else has taken the rap.
- The International Council for Science pledges support for scientists in the L’Aquila case (phys.org)
- Italian Scientists Get 6 Years for L’Aquila Earthquake Statements (livescience.com)
- Italian scientist convicted over L’Aquila earthquake condemns ‘medieval’ court (guardian.co.uk)
- Italian scientists found guilty of failing to predict L’Aquila quake; face 6 years in prison (boingboing.net)
- Scientists convicted of manslaughter for failing to warn of earthquake (guardian.co.uk)
- Scientists convicted for not predicting quake (worldnews.nbcnews.com)