The Earthquake Experiment: An Outside Reading List - Pacific Standard

The Earthquake Experiment: An Outside Reading List

A short list of the stories we wish we’d written.
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A destroyed neighborhood shows the damage of the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. (Photo: United Nations Development Programme/Flickr)

A destroyed neighborhood shows the damage of the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010. (Photo: United Nations Development Programme/Flickr)

Earthquake day is well underway in Pacific Standard’s precariously located, beach-adjacent offices. Already, we’ve given you some facts and myths, a quick history lesson, and corrected a few common misconceptions. But, with hundreds of thousands of earthquakes rocking the globe every day, there are many more stories to write than we have staffers to write them. Here’s a short list of the stories we wish we’d written:

  • The field of plate tectonics as we know it has only been widely accepted since the late 1960s. “The space age had already begun, the first computers were crunching numbers, and yet many, if not most, earth scientists thought the continents were stuck, unmoving on the surface of the Earth,” wrote Kenneth Chang in an article for the New York Times that chronicles the acceptance of the once-controversial theory that the Earth’s crust is made up of slowly sliding plates.
  • The death toll in Nepal has already topped 6,000 and continues to climb. Both the massive quake and the devastation came as no surprise, Nick Stockton wrote this week for Wired, because despite being constructed on top of a major plate boundary, Kathmandu was not built to be earthquake-proof. And there are several other cities around the globe that face similar risks.
  • More than half of the 1.3 million people affected by the Nepal quake are women, Shelly Walia and Akshat Rathi report for Quartz. And that’s not a fluke: Natural disasters tend to kill more women than men. “[The] worse the disaster, the bigger the gender disparity,” they write, and there are both social and biological reasons for that.
  • Nepal is still in dire need of aid, but Brendan Nyhan reports for the New York Times, “the extent of American aid may be limited, however, by our collective attention span.” Domestic issues are pushing the foreign disaster from headlines, and the media coverage, or rather, the lack thereof, can have serious economic consequences. 

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