Is Haiti uninhabitable?

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Frank Leyland

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Is Haiti uninhabitable?
« on: 25/01/2010 19:30:03 »
Frank Leyland  asked the Naked Scientists:
Hi Chris.
Heard you on the radio this morning re: Haiti earthquake.
I believe all efforts must be taken to help these desperately unfortunate people. However, one thing has become apparent; it was known that these buildings were on a precarious fault line.  Was it not pure insanity to continue to populate and develop the island and to continue to do so?

There is talk of "...rebuilding the properties...".

To me this is madness - to rebuild them so that people can be slaughtered and mutilated again?!  Before this quake struck, the talk should have been and should STILL be (to my mind) about evacuation.  Haiti is uninhabitable.

What do you think Chris?

With best regards from Frank Leyland

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 25/01/2010 19:30:03 by _system »


Offline Bored chemist

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Is Haiti uninhabitable?
« Reply #1 on: 25/01/2010 19:42:27 »
Are you going to write off a few major US cities that have had quakes too?
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Offline Geezer

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Is Haiti uninhabitable?
« Reply #2 on: 25/01/2010 19:55:06 »
I don't think it is uninhabitable. Earthquakes are common in many parts of the World. Strangely, I lived in California for quite a while, but the worst one I ever experienced was when I lived in Scotland. If you defined "uninhabitable" as any location that has experienced significant earthquakes, there would not be too many places left that could be considered inhabitable.

Interestingly, a US news reporter went looking for relatives of a Haitian friend of hers after the quake. She found modern structures that had totally collapsed, but then she found a home that her friends relatives had built 200 years ago, and it was undamaged.

The question of how they rebuild in Haiti is critical. The technology exists to build structures that can survive a serious earthquake without killing their occupants. They may be more expensive, but from what I've seen, they don't need to be very much more expensive. If we can do anything, we should do our best to help Haiti rebuild using much safer structures.
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Offline JimBob

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Is Haiti uninhabitable?
« Reply #3 on: 26/01/2010 00:05:03 »
If criteria for the occupation of a piece of land be that it not have earthquake problems then the places where man could not build would include probably at least a third of the earth's surface.

In 1812 the New Madrid earthquake on the Mississippi River in New Madrid, Missouri was so large it was felt as a magnitude 2 earthquake in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 830 miles away. Church bells rang from the shaking and people thought that their houses would fall down. Only slight damage was done in Philadelphia. Missouri was devastated, as were large parts of the surrounding area up to 400 miles away. 

If a damaging earthquake being possible were the criteria for occupation, most of North America, all of central America, all of western South America, anywhere in the Western Pacific, New Guinea, northern Australia, Borneo, the Philippines, Celebes, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, what was Burma, Bangladesh, southern and  western China, Tibet, Northern India, all of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, parts of Iraq, all the parts of the former southern Russian confederation, all of the Caucuses, all of Turkey, Greece, Southern Europe, North Africa, Iceland and many many places in the south Atlantic would be uninhabitable.

Oh, and I forgot Alaska, eastern Russia, Mongolia and several other places as well. Lastly, the Caribbean area is obviously subject to them.

It is hard to get away from them.
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