In the sixth grade, I remember watching a documentary about Yellowstone; more specifically, the Yellowstone super-volcano. When I was 11, the idea that such catastrophic damage could be imminent terrified me. I was able to find hope in the fact Yellowstone would only directly impact the West Coast, and I would be safe in Massachusetts. Also, since this event only happened once every 70,000 years I thought I’d have nothing to worry about, since the odds are in my favor.
Katherine Schulz’s “The Really Big One” described a different, but equally as terrifying and devastating natural disaster, the rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone. Natural disasters are inevitable and occur often, yet it seems even the best science can’t predict them all. But is this true? Schulz touches upon this idea as she described the devastating the Japanese 9.0 earthquake and tsunami of 2011. The loss Japan faced was inconceivable and left survivors thinking why wasn’t Japan more prepared? However, Japan could have been. Japanese geologist Yasutaka Ikeda suggested their would be a earthquake of this magnitude in the coming future, back in 2005, but his research and science was largely ignored. This is similar to what I felt when I watched the Yellowstone documentary. Since I did not, and still do not, want to believe such destruction could occur in the coming future, I try tried to put it out of my mind and worry about it later.
Governments are often inclined to focus on the pressing issues at any given moment, not on a volcano that may or may not explode in the next 2,000 years. And people, including me, try to avoid unnecessary worry, even when science says we should be concerned about something. The rupture of the Cascadia subduction zone is the same idea. While Schulz described the possible devastation something of this magnitude could cause, she leaves it up to our interpretations. Obviously, nobody wants this kind of destruction to occur. But then what? What should we do when the science is telling us there is this threat? Should we just ignore it, hoping it won’t affect our lifetime? Or take action and recognize the value in the science?