The probability of earthquakes has changed following new study

earthquake 2

A new report by the U.S. Geological survey has introduced a new earthquake forecast model that changes the forecasts for magnitude, location, and likelihood as compared to the 2007 forecast model. The most significant change is the likelihood of medium (6.7-8) quakes has decreased while the likelihood of large (8+) quakes has increased. Looking at the entirety of California, the chance of a medium earthquake has gone from one every 4.8 years to one every 6.3 years while the chance of large earthquakes has gone from one every 617 years to one every 494 years. 

The evolution of the California earthquake forecast model has happened as we learn more and more about the complex fault system under our feet. 

As we can see the number of faults has increased twenty fold in the last 17 years. In the 1988 forecast, only 16 faults were considered while in 2015 350 faults were considered to create the model. Much of these recent fault finding efforts (pun certainly intended) were driven by the fact that the 1994 Northridge earthquake occurred on a previously unknown fault. There are two other important things that contributed to this revised forecast, the use of space based geology and the observation that earthquakes jump from fault to fault instead of being constrained to the fault that spawned them. Instead of several major fault-lines, the picture that emerges is of a vast interconnected fault system. 

While the implications for building codes depends largely on where exactly structures are located, there are some important general conclusions we can draw. Tall buildings and bridges are more at risk than previously thought whereas small single family houses are less likely to experience catastrophic damage. Also the popular assumption that small quakes release pressure and make large ones less likely has been revisited to take into account the connected multi-fault system. 

How to Prepare

  • Identify safe and dangerous spots in each room. Get under sturdy desks and tables, stay away from windows, fireplaces, and hanging objects.
  • Conduct Practice drills.
  • Decide where and how to reunite with loved ones if separated during an earthquake.
  • Learn how to shut off the water, gas, and electricity.
  • Get a first aid kit and learn CPR and basic first aid.

During the Earthquake

  • If outdoors, find an open area away from walls, buildings, power lines, and trees.
  • If driving, pull over to the side of the road and stop, avoid areas around power lines and stay in the car until the shaking has stopped.
  • If in a crowded public place, do not rush for the doors. Remain calm and cover your head and neck with arms.

After the Earthquake

  • Do not attempt to use the phone unless there is an urgent life threatening emergency.
  • Check for gas and water leaks as well as damaged electrical wiring. Call utility companies if necessary. Do not attempt to re-light the gas pilot without a thorough inspection.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.
  • Do not use your vehicle unless absolutely necessary.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.
  • Help others in need.

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Urban Heat Islands and Paint

White reflects and black absorbs.

It’s a simple statement with massive ramifications if our society decides to use the science of color to fight global warming. For centuries cities in places like North Africa and the Mediterranean have been painting everything bright white to keep cool. White reflects the heat radiation back into space while darker colors absorb heat radiation and would therefore increase the temperature in and around the house.

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Why did we abandon this simple technique that seems like a no brainer in places like Los Angeles? The answer is that it is much cheaper to use dark building materials. Asphalt and tar are two of the most ubiquitous building materials we use to construct cities and roads. The detrimental effect of building like that is referred to as the “Urban Heat Island” effect. This is why cities are generally much hotter than the surrounding countryside.

In cities with ample precipitation, the best solution involves plants on places like rooftops and vacant lots. The city of Boston buried it’s largest highway and built a giant park in it’s place. The “Big Dig” was a disaster as far as construction projects go but the original concept was great. (When I was ten years old, the Major of Boston told me the Big Dig would be done in five years…I am now thirty and they just finished.)

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The problem with this approach in Los Angeles is the complete lack of rain. No one should be watering large lawns because it’s just downright irresponsible. Replacing lawns with fake grass actually contributes to the Urban Heat Island and also destroys whatever ecosystem existed there before. Residents of Los Angeles can enroll in a rebate turf removal program whereby you replace the grass with drought resistant plants and get money back from the city.

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turf_res_after2

Of course if you can’t get people to vaccinate their children, the concept of deadly irresponsibility may not be salient for the residents of greater Los Angeles.

If you want to be a responsable member of society, however, paint white and tear up all that thirsty grass.

Electronic Medical Records and Personal Health Records

With the ever expanding Internet opening possibilities across various forms of business, we find ourselves in an age where information is readily available at our fingertips. Databases have been built regarding driving records, real estate, education, and more to provide a more efficient and less time consuming practice of data entry. Electronic medical records are no different and could be more important since the information is invaluable. There is a wide scope of possibilities for using electronic medical records.

1. Instant Sharing – In some care facilities, methods exist to share a patient’s information with another facility over the Internet in a different city. This could prove to be vital if the information requested pertains to a life threatening circumstance.

2. Clicks Away – With electronic medical and personal health records, the information is just a few clicks away. Instead of sifting through files and folders to find an individual’s information, it could just be a matter of entering a name search.

3. Billing – Most facilities have implemented some kind of a billing system for patients. Many of these billing applications can be used in conjunction with a medical record for further data analysis later on.

4. Web-Based – Data centers and the Cloud have increased efficiency of sharing patient information with practitioners around the globe. Some of these electronic records are based on the Internet alleviating a facility’s need for a sufficient data server. With the inclusion of images, x-rays, and more a server can get quite crowded with data in a largely populated area.

5. Cross Platform – Electronic medical and personal health records can be accessed across multiple devices. As some are web-based, a web browser on a tablet or phone would suffice. However, some of these EMR developers have made apps for Android and iPad for a more efficient tablet use. These apps connect to the database on the Internet without the need of a browser and all pertinent information can be viewed.

6. Prescriptions – Advancements in technology have allowed some of the EMR applications the ability to send e-prescriptions to participating vendors. Programs such as Practice Fusion incorporate a variety of tools to create greater efficiency in the facility including messaging, reporting, and billing.

7. Quick Entry – Many EMR programs allow a practitioner the ability to simply click on symptoms to build a record reducing the amount of typing. This could also reduce miscommunications and illegible comments about how an individual patient has been treated in the past.

The days of old where we cut down trees to create paper for our records is slowly coming to an end. It was a method that worked, but technology and the need for efficiency are growing ever closer to triumph over archaic methods of communication. With a little ingenuity and innovation, we could very well create a single database that can be used to provide every piece of information about a specific individual.

About the Author:

Ken Myers is an expert adviser on in-home care & related family safety issues to many websites and groups. He is a regular contributor to www.gonannies.com. You can get in touch with him at kmyers.ceo@gmail.com.

HUGO CHAVEZ IS DEAD, LET OIL PRICES SOAR!

President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez has died of cancer. There is all sorts of conflict over who will succeed him. The constitution says one thing but it is being disputed so we can look forward to some serious instability. This instability, real or perceived, will cause oil prices to rise because Venezuela is the fourth largest oil importer to the United States.

Everyone panic and fill up your gas tanks!

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Why Iran is lost to the West.

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Sometimes we need to stand back and look at the historical origins of current problems.

In 1953 the CIA and MI6 assassinated the democratically elected president of Iran Mohammad Mosaddegh because he intended to nationalize the Iranian oil industry. The coup, among other things, was and is a significant reason for regional war and fossil fuels issues. You may recognize the oil company that initiated the coup, it is now known as British Petroleum (BP).

Empire and Nationhood

  • ISBN-10: 0231108192

The sources used by Mary Ann Heiss in Empire and Nationhood are successful in providing credible background for her statements regarding British and American sentiments during the Iranian Oil dispute. The lack of sources from Iran means that it is a largely a two, instead of three sided account of the events. She creates a detailed picture of the negotiations from a western viewpoint using largely the correspondences of Great Britain and the United States while the viewpoint of the Iranians is pieced together from secondary sources and public announcements. The cultural bias of the western representatives is commented on, so although there is a record of Iranian negotiations, they are biased and often indignant descriptions by diplomats.
The overview of the Anglo-Iranian Oil crisis draws on many secondary works and a few books or articles written by people involved or living in Iran at the time. The secondary works are for the most part written by western historians whose titles do not suggest an evenly balanced perspective. For example the official history of the British Petroleum Company is cited a few times and many of the books are primarily concerned with the cold war. Iran was certainly important in the cold war but focusing on it might tend to show the perspectives of those fighting the war rather than that of Iran, which was a chess piece in the games being played between the US and the USSR.
The sources that contribute to the descriptions of the strained relations leading up to the rise of the nationalization movement and the rise of Mossadeq are a mix of British and American correspondences and books concerning the rise of Mossadeq and the political situation in Iran before him. This chapter, “too little too late” shows the greatest balance between eastern and western sources used. The difference is that the sources from the Middle Eastern perspective are written long after the events took place while correspondence on the part of the western diplomats give a more accurate sense of the feeling at the time. Authors whose names indicate Middle Eastern heritage are significant because they are referenced sparingly once Mossadeq is prime minister. This may have something to do with the secrecy Mossadeq afforded himself once in office. Also, the remainder of the book is largely an account of the negotiations between Mossadeq and representatives of England and the US. This means that presently we can look at the negotiations because there is a record of the internal consultations on the western end but we do not know the full extent of the pressure and constraints put on Mossadeq by political entities and public opinion. A dispatch from the state department to someone involved with debating Mossadeq on a key point shows the reasoning behind the American position while the reasoning behind the Iranian posture can only be guessed at.
Another reason for the one sidedness of the documentation is that for the most part, it was a Prime Minister talking to a diplomat who is already biased against the PM. Mossadeq had the power to make concessions so the political motivations behind his actions have to be derived from the situation in Iran. We have such a good record of the western motivations because American and British agents were constantly conferring with each other and their respective governments. It is unlikely that Mossadeq communicated with his advisors in writing and probably kept the details of his situation secret.
An important factor with regard to documentation that is not discussed in the book is the fact the Tehran at this time was chock full of spies. Channels of communication are never one hundred percent secure so information that was considered sensitive would be unlikely to be sent by telegraph for example. The author demonstrates the general fears of the US with regard to soviet interactions in Iran, but the specific threats, real or perceived, are not revealed. The author mentions documents relating to the MI-6 and CIA inspired coup that are withheld but only touches upon why the US thought the USSR would automatically take power in Iran if the economy were to fail. There is certainly logic behind the containment policy in Iran but because there is little mention of popular Iranian sentiment regarding communism aside from the actions of the Tudeh party, the policy seems to stem mainly from American paranoia.
The only primary sources that voice the position of Iran are the Correspondences between his/her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Persian government, and related documents (concerning the oil Industry in Persia, February 1951 to September 1951) (Concerning the joint Anglo-American proposal for a settlement of the oil dispute, August 1952 to October 1952) The problem with these sources is that they were most likely documents that could be made public and were, if it suited a political aim. Most of the negotiations were done without the public knowledge or proposals were made informally at first with the reaction often eliminating the need to present them formally. What we can see in these formal documents are the last ditch efforts by Briton to save face by standing behind proposals they knew would be rejected.
It is clear that the United States was integral in the dispute between the Iranian Government, the AIOC and the British Government but the records taken from the national Archives verses the ones taken from the Public Record Office show that the available American records are more concise and therefore less accurate. The documents from the Public Record Office in England include minutes, memorandums and other immediate sources. These kinds of sources, if unaltered, are likely to be the most accurate and the most revealing. The record of the Secretary of Defense should in contrast be far less revealing and is certainly not cited as frequently as the Foreign Office correspondence. These American sources are not likely to contain information that could be considered inflammatory. That is to say that the United States would not be likely to make information public that could add to the hatred of the US by Iran.
The author does a satisfactory job of filling in the blanks created by the lack of Iranian primary sources. She gives a reasonable assessment of the political situation in Iran based on western perceptions that were probably fairly accurate because of the strategic concerns in Iran. The memoirs of Mossadeq may have helped to explain some of the pressures he faced in Iran but even a person’s memory of their own actions cannot be trusted as fact. While the author does not attempt to analyze individual Iranian sentiment for lack of material, it would seems possible to find a primary source written by an Iranian who was not Mossadeq or the Shah. She does a good job showing the shift from British to American domination of the Iranian oil as well as their reactions to the nationalist movement.

bp

Review Bibiography

International History Review v. 21 no. 4 (Dec. 1999). Mejcher, Helmut, reviewerhttp://metaquest.bc.edu:4000/sfx_local?sid=HWW:ACIT&genre=article&pid=%3Can%3E199901501686015%3C%2Fan%3E&aulast=Amuzegar&aufirst=Jahangir&issn=0026-3141&title=The+Middle+East+Journal&stitle=Middle+East+J&atitle=Empire+and+nationhood+(Book+Review)&volume=53&issue=1&spage=138&epage=140&date=1999&ssn=winter—There was an error with the Factiva server when I tried to print this review before class but I had read it with the paper.
Diplomatic History v. 23 no. 3 (Summ 1999). Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs, reviewer. http://www.blackwellsynergy.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0145-2096&date=1999&volume=23&issue=3&spage=559

Savor your shrimp as it may be your last, Oil is the new seaweed

I have been wanting to write about the disaster in the Gulf Of Mexico but whenever I tried to learn about the impacts of the oil, the more irritated I got.

So now that I am in a more objective emotional state of mind I will try to asses the future term impacts.  This is just the start as ridiculous amounts of poison gasses liquid, and solids will be pumping into the ocean for several more months.

The oil we see washing ashore and being burnt up on top of the water is just the tip of the iceberg so to speak. What is coming out of the bottom of the gulf is a diverse mixture of petroleum with different densities and thus buoyancy.  The vast majority is under the surface mingling with the fishes and shrimp.

Dispersants makes even more oil go underwater but is necessary to protect the coastlines. Either way most of the oil will collect in The Gulf and then the ocean currants will take it around the world, first the North Atlantic, then the South Atlantic, and then on to the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Pacific.

The politics surrounding this event are also very disconcerting. This was not a completely unanticipated event.  There has always been the possibility that offshore rigs can be compromised. It is unfortunate that is takes a real disaster to wake people up.

The best shrimp came from the Bayou but I believe those days may already be over.

The Mississippi Meets the oil

John Adams was a smart man

unite_or_die

All the perplexities, confusion and distress in America arise, not from defects in their Constitution or Confederation, not from want of honor or virtue, so much as from the downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit and circulation.

-John Adams

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