Dan's Outside

I go, I see, I do, I walk, I think, I like…

To Quote Muir…

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything in the universe.”

This thought occurred to me just now as I came across a story in the New York Times about a possible link between earthquakes and dam construction in China – Possible Link Between Dam and China Quake.

Nearly nine months after a devastating earthquake in Sichuan Province, China, left 80,000 people dead or missing, a growing number of American and Chinese scientists are suggesting that the calamity was triggered by a four-year-old reservoir built close to the earthquake’s geological fault line.

A Columbia University scientist who studied the quake has said that it may have been triggered by the weight of 320 million tons of water in the Zipingpu Reservoir less than a mile from a well-known major fault. His conclusions, presented to the American Geophysical Union in December, coincide with a new finding by Chinese geophysicists that the dam caused significant seismic changes before the earthquake.

While the story reports that a quake on the fault would occur eventually in any case – that’s what happens on earthquake faults – the realization that human endeavors of this sort are not without unpredictable consequences could be extrapolated to other important (very important – e.g. climate change) environmental issues and argue for some caution.

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February 6, 2009 - Posted by | Environment

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