A Casuality of ‘Fiscal Responsibility’: Earthquake Warning

Because warning people about natural disasters is the cold, dead hand of socialism (boldface mine):

“The main problem is funding,” said Doug Given, a project manager for the U.S. Geological Survey’s earthquake monitoring program. “In the current government financial situation, it’s unlikely that it will be funded to the adequate level soon. We’re still searching for avenues to make it happen.”

…But funding woes mean the early-warning system is plagued by too many errors, and crashes too frequently, to be rolled out for transit operators, utilities, building managers and others in California for whom it could be useful. Heaton said at least 200 additional sensors would be needed to provide sufficient data for an accurate early-warning system….

Even advance warning of five to 10 seconds could be enough to slow trains before tracks buckle. Elevators could be routed to the nearest floor and their doors opened to prevent passengers from becoming trapped by a blackout. Motorists warned by their networked cars or smartphones could pull over and flick on hazard lights to warn others of the impending tumult. Such measures are already commonplace under a sophisticated early-warning system in Japan.

Such a system here could be connected to smartphones and office buildings, but making the most of the program could require extensive new training, drills and public awareness campaigns.

In Mexico City, those drills happen regularly. David Rojas, 33, an industrial designer who was trained to lead his colleagues out of a building when the alarms sound, said he credits the drills for the calm and orderly evacuation responses to Tuesday’s large earthquake.

So spending billions and billions every year on an intrusive national security state is critical, but spending a pittance by comparison on a system that has saved lives elsewhere–the total estimate for the early warning system is $80 million–is waste.

This is yet another reason why we can’t have nice things.

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