China WTF: when will we tackle the hard questions, like whether dams cause earthquakes? by mattsteinglass
June 15, 2008, 9:01 pm
Filed under: China

Leung Man-Tao, host on China’s Phoenix TV, writes an admirable editorial (via David Bandurski at the China Media Project) exhorting Chinese media not to lose focus and to finally go back and address the embarrassing, critical questions of how social or government inadequacies may have contributed to the death toll in last month’s Sichuan earthquake. To wit:

But how many questions do we still need to ask? Why did those schools collapse? Where did all of these dams come from? (The complicated cause and effect relationship between reservoirs and earthquakes has been hotly debated by experts). What kinds of hiccups were there in the management of the relief effort? Yes, we have to go on with our lives. But where will the survivors live? How will they live? Will loans have to by repayed for those homes that collapsed? In these television programs that go to absurd lengths to stir emotions . . . these questions are growing cold and are in danger of being pushed into insignificance.

Right on. But…”the complicated cause and effect relationship between reservoirs and earthquakes”? Wha…? This seems like one of those very third-world situations where the lack of a tradition of responsible reporting on the part of media leads to a kind of widespread scientific illiteracy both on the part of the media and the general public, and hence a susceptibility to ridiculous urban legends…so that while people do have a widespread and justified sense that “the media won’t talk about the real issues!”, those “issues” are comprised in part of real issues like shoddy school construction and in part of insane gibberish like whether the earthquakes were predicted by hordes of frogs.

I mean, the “cause and effect relationship between reservoirs and earthquakes” is that earthquakes cause reservoirs to burst. Right? The idea that a dam can cause or exacerbate earthquakes is ludicrous, right? Come on, engineers and geologists, help me out here!


1 Comment so far
Leave a comment

Just a thought, how much does all that water weigh? All the water collected together in the geographical area. Will it affect an earthquake fault? wide spread as the area is? Perhaps, if it (the fault) is delicately balanced, who is to say not?. Why so many high magnitude aftershocks, the obvious answer, is that this is/was a recalcitrant fault, one that had a high resistance to relief of the stresses, but once the initial trigger event occurred, then it acted in a cascade effect to relieve those same stresses. just say’in

with respect


Comment by john

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: