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When the Earth Roars: Lessons from the History of Earthquakes in Japan - Asia/Pacific/Perspectives (Hardback)
  • When the Earth Roars: Lessons from the History of Earthquakes in Japan - Asia/Pacific/Perspectives (Hardback)
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When the Earth Roars: Lessons from the History of Earthquakes in Japan - Asia/Pacific/Perspectives (Hardback)

(author)
£70.00
Hardback 226 Pages / Published: 21/03/2014
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Japan, which is among the most earthquake-prone regions in the world, has a long history of responding to seismic disasters. However, despite advances in earthquake-related safety technologies, the destructiveness of the magnitude 9 class earthquake and tsunami that struck the country on 3/11 raised profound questions about how societies can deal effectively with seismic hazards. Tracing the history of earthquakes in Japan, Gregory Smits identifies a cycle of overconfidence and unreasonable expectations with roots as far back as the 1830 Kyoto Earthquake. The author argues that the events of March 11, 2011, and its aftermath are but the latest example of this all-too-human cycle of overconfidence, exacerbated by fading attention to the risks of known natural hazards as time passes. As the first sustained historical analysis of destructive earthquakes and tsunamis, this book is an essential resource for anyone interested in Japan, natural disasters, seismology, and environmental history.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781442220096
Number of pages: 226
Weight: 463 g
Dimensions: 236 x 160 x 22 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Smits offers a very well-written and insightful study of the eternal quest to create and validate the shaky science of earthquake prediction. Basing his book on an analysis of major earthquakes in Japan over the last 200 years, including the earthquake and tsunami of 3/11, the author concludes that it is impossible to predict them (neither their timing nor location). He bases this conclusion on an easily understandable description of the geology of earthquakes. Unfortunately, the resources of government and the scientific community, particularly in Japan, are fixated on this misguided task; in the postwar era, this effort has shifted from `predicting' to `forecasting.' Smits argues that great benefits can accrue by using earthquakes and their results as precedents and guideposts to instead focus resources on mitigating their social and economic impact. For example, lessons from earlier earthquakes in the Tohoku region of Japan might very well have reduced the impact of the disastrous 3/11 events. This valuable, persuasive, and very readable study will appeal to all interested in the history of modern Japan, the history of earthquakes in Japan, and the science of seismology. Summing Up: Essential. All levels. * CHOICE *
Deeply researched and easily readable. . . .Anyone with a serious interest in Japanese earthquakes should read [this book]. * Engineering and Technology Magazine *
Smits's research both draws and supports important conclusions about the impact of earthquakes and tsunamis on Japanese life, property, and culture. The first is that seismic events cannot be predicted, and the second is that such an ability is currently nowhere on the horizon. The third is that memories are short, and the willingness to return to tsunami-prone regions is strong, due to a disbelief that the event will recur. * Environmental History *
When the Earth Roars is an excellent guide to the history of earthquakes in Japan that focuses on how these seismic events become what are termed natural disasters. . . .Smits warns that people have unrealistic expectations of science and the state to protect them from natural hazards. He argues persuasively that residents and officials should focus on mitigating the impact of devastating earthquakes, citing strict seismic building codes and innovative engineering as a far better use of funding than seismic forecasting. He closes this excellent book by warning that the Pacific Northwest of North America will experience a massive tsunami following a subduction quake in the Pacific, making this essential reading for residents and policymakers in that region. * The Journal of Japanese Studies *
When the Earth Roars constitute[s] a provocative addition to the study of earthquakes in Japan. * Monumenta Nipponica *
This wise and readable study brings reason to the questions of what we can know about the volatile earth, what the historical record can teach us, and what we can and cannot predict. When the Earth Roars is an important book that should be read widely. -- Jordan Sand, professor of history, Georgetown University

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