Chris on the radio

A post by Chris RowanCompletely out of the blue, I’ve asked to participate in a discussion on natural disasters on the BBC World Service. The topic is presumably prompted by the two recent large earthquakes near Samoa and Indonesia, and it seems they want a tame geologist to talk about earthquake prediction (or the lack thereof).
The programme is called ‘World, Have Your Say‘ and is being broadcast live from 1805 BST (which I think is 1305 EST for you Americans). Hopefully I won’t sound too out of my depth.
[Update: For those who want to hear me, the programme is available on the BBC iPlayer for the next week. I pop up for brief periods throughout (9.00-10.30, 18.35-19.45, 34:00-37.30 and 49:50-51.30 mins). I think I did OK; I wish I’d gotten more of a chance to talk about the issues of long-term preparedness, and getting the information that we do have better embedded in public and political consciousness.]

Categories: bloggery, public science

Comments (6)

  1. Bob O'H says:

    Someone going to live-blog?
    Love it – the BBC player’s volume goes up to 11.

  2. Bob O'H says:

    Well done, Chris. Well done.
    My wife now has a new online crush, I think.

  3. I’m a bit indignant about the amount of blame that scientists took on that show. For example, scientists had been warning for years of a Katrina-like disaster and gave pretty good predictions of the hurricane’s strength in the preceding few days. Other things are just, well, unpredictable. But that doesn’t make them the scientists fault.
    Nonetheless, Chris did an outstanding job when he was allowed to talk. He sounded knowledgable about earthquake prediction, volcano monitoring, the San Andreas fault, and even the sort of political will it would take to get real disaster preparedness. Well done, indeed!

  4. Kim Hannula says:

    Oh, we should have been live-blogging! I was tweeting in response. (Mostly to the other people – it’s amazing and frustrating when people say “scientists didn’t tell us and didn’t know” when I knew from news reports and intro-level geology info – the potential flooding of New Orleans was discussed by everyone from John McPhee to the New Orleans Times-Picayune to National Geographic – hardly specialized literature! But I digress.)
    You did a fantastic job. (And now the world wants to know if it’s archived!)

  5. Kim Hannula says:

    And in response to Anne – one point that they could have made (but didn’t) is that the responses of the people who were affected by the disasters points to a big part of the problem – people don’t know and understand the risks of the places where they live, even when scientists know them very well. (New Orleans, New Orleans, New Orleans, but also any subduction zone around the world.) There are things we don’t know – I think Chris must have the paper from Nature that just came out about the weird response of the San Andreas Fault to the Boxing Day earthquake, because he responded immediately and knowledgeably to a question that was probably about it – but the things that we DO know simply don’t register with the people who need to know them. (Even when scientists are helped by fantastic reporting from the traditional media, as in the case of New Orleans.)
    It’s frustrating. Is it human nature to deny the possibility of disaster? Or do we come across as “crying wolf” too much?

  6. Chris Rowan says:

    people don’t know and understand the risks of the places where they live, even when scientists know them very well
    Indeed so. Also, I think it’s a perspective problem – people don’t seem to factor low frequency but high impact events into their risk perception very well.
    And thanks for everyone’s kind comments!