It is not very surprising that a 7.9 Richter quake hit Nepal, half way between Pokhara and Kathmandu. It was expected, and overdue (they come every 75 years, latest big one, 8.1 Richter, was in 1934). More worrisome: a “Megathrust” quake could happen throughout the region, a continuation of the one which happened to the east of the Indian plate in 2004. Plates move, that’s what they do, as the Earth’s innards swallow all this carbon, which, otherwise, would turn Earth into Venus.
Many of the quakes, including of the horizontal slip type, are upper crust readjustments from motion that occurred lower down already.
In California, the faults creep roughly twice faster in depth than on the surface. 5 centimeters a year down below, only half that, on the surface (with luck; in many places, the surface is stuck).
The means exist, in developed regions, to build constructions that are impervious to earthquakes, as Japan and Chile have demonstrated. However, steel is expensive.
In the latest quake, the whole city of Katmandu slipped to the south 3 meters. Severe quakes are expected in notoriously unprepared places such as Tehran and Lima. In general, wherever there are (non totally senile) mountains, quakes are to be expected. In Eurasia, the Indian plate is pressing north at a steady 5 centimeters per year. One does not know exactly if it exactly mashes, compresses, or pass below the Eurasian plate, or a mix of these. Although globally India slips below Eurasia, the world’s largest continental plate.
The point of the following graph is that the quake which just happened was fully expected. A Republican Empire, considering this, would have mandated by law the reinforcement of old buildings (many of which just collapsed). This is actually what the Turkish Republic has done (not really democratic, all too Islamizing, but definitively imperial). To help Nepal, really, it would have been good to insist that it does the same.
As the editor of the Nepali Times put it after the quake: “Nepal’s politicians have been too busy battling one another, most recently over constitutional reform, to treat disaster preparedness as a priority.”
Within hours, it was known that a Google executive had been killed on Everest, from one of the many avalanches caused by the quake (there were avalanches all over, especially as it is the best season for avalanches). This ‘important’ news attracted a lot of attention in the USA media. The San Francisco Chronicle made it its cover story, dwarfing any news from Nepal itself. The 33 year old “tech executive” was famous for being famous. He had dated “stars” and attended “red carpet events”. It was his third time on Everest. Please fasten your seat belt for my own view.
Google had apparently planned to “street view” Everest (the mountain-executed executive headed (the notorious lack of) privacy at Google X, a part of Google into experimental projects).
My sarcastic tone may hurt. I share the pain. However, so many people die in the mountains, and the mountains are such a symbol, an experience, of the good graces, and awe, of nature, that I feel mountains should be approached with reverence, not advertising and an exploitative, self-glorifying mood, masquerading as clownish behavior.
Why reverence? Because reverence is an important emotion. People used to encourage it in temples, mosques and churches. But that was then. And we cannot have reverence, be it only by principle, for our many (more or less self-declared) leaders out there. OK, I pay my respect to the Pope when he commemorates, deplores, condemns and draw the necessary lesson from the Armenian Genocide.
Whereas I can only despise Obama for breaking his promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide, as president, seven year in a row. Here, despising Obama has become a moral duty. Here is a quote:
“The Armenian Genocide is not , an allegation, a personal opinion, a point of view, but rather a widely documented FACT, supported by an overwhelming body of HISTORICAL EVIDENCE” [Obama much reiterated personal opinion, 2007… when I was campaigning for him…]
However, as AMERICAN president, Obama has turned into a mouse with Turkey. So how come the FRENCH president is like a roaring lion, and accuse Turkey of genocide, every day, on all TV, radio, media? And gets away with it totally.
Turkey is just forgetting to growl at the French, while threatening tiny Austria with various horrors; notice the deafening also Turkish silence since Germany recognized the genocide, too…
The truth is that Turkey respects German seriousness and French craziness, whereas it knows all to well that Obama just smells the money, ready to follow the scent, as a rat the cheese.
This is why despising Obama about Turkey is a duty (Obama may do something behind the scene, but, since we don’t know, let’s despise.
And that brings us back to commercialization, or, as I call it more generally, the EXPLOITATIVE MENTALITY. So Google wants to “Street View” Everest. Why? Because it’s all about “Beaucoup Bucks”, just as making nice with Turkey is about Beaucoup Bucks. when the American presidency is all about “Beaucoup Bucks” for all to see, Google “Don’t YOU be Evil” can only parrot the attitude. Obama was supposed to lift the morality, instead, he raises money.
When money is the only light that enlightens, one ends down into the abyss, profiting from holocausts and genocides, as if there were no tomorrows.
American presidents do not feel that holocausts are the end-all, be-all. After all, serial genocide is how the USA was built, grew, and prospered.
(Europe has a completely different mentality, because history there has amply shown that what goes around comes around, and holocausts are no way to treat resentful neighbors; Nazis forgot this, and thus Nazis got decimated, and Germany got severely amputated, accordingly, in territory and population.)
That the Exploitative mentality is strong among the Anglos, the Yanks, cannot be questioned. Compare with Spanish and Mexicans (who do not have a particular reputation for gentleness; even the man-eating Aztecs were horrified, as intended, by Spanish tortures!)
Under the Spanish and Mexicans, for centuries, there were around 250,00o Native Americans in California. The Natives lived in reasonably good intelligence with the Spaniards, their “Missions”, and even with the Mexicans. Spaniards and Mexicans protected Indians and wilderness with extensive parks. In the Bay Area, the Oakland-Berkeley Hills were a park, complete with California grizzlies (the largest grizzly subspecies, a bear which did not hibernate). And with, by far, the tallest trees in the world (they were used as beacons for navigation in the San Francisco Bay. To the east of the park were Spanish ranches.
The Spaniards amused themselves by organizing fights between innovative grizzlies and ferocious bulls. (So Spaniards had a vested interest in grizzly survival, as the species was a source of entertainment.)
When the Anglos and their Exploitative Mentality got to California, all of this strange Eden was gone in a few years. Indians and grizzlies were exterminated with relish, as they did not generate Beaucoup Bucks.
So now Everest is the very symbol of exploitation gone mad. Mad, because people who have never climbed anything can get to the top of Everest, pushed, pulled, dragged, oxygenated, attached, ferried, by exploited sherpas. Most tellingly, those freaks of human nature perverted get to show part of their facebooked face and their oxygen mask all over the Internet, to satisfy their pathetic Will to Gossip, and Self-Glorification. While celebrating the power of money over basic human decency.
Frankly, most people who are Chomolungma should not be there. Mountains ought not to be climbed that much artificially, especially the highest.
The first French rescue plane, coming from Abu Dhabi with doctors and medical supplies, circled the airport, but could not land, as the Kathmandu Control Tower did not answer. The obvious method, in future disasters is to send first military transports. Military transports can land on short pieces of runways.
This is one world, and it’s good that it is not one mentality. However, good mentalities ought not to hesitate to stab the bad ones to death.
That there was a quake in Nepal is not surprising. They happened before, there will be (much) worse in the future, maybe even next week (megathrust quakes have often enormous foreshocks). What is surprising is that so little preparedness is in evidence (this being said, even in the city of San Francisco, 50,000 houses are considered ready to collapse, by City Hall, and nothing much is done about it).
Seems like, for most people, the best way to avoid a disaster, is not to think about it.
Nepal is a beautiful place. Visit, appreciate, calmly enjoy, help. Just don’t climb all over it, to turn it into a “street view”. Or face the wrath of fate. That ought to be lesson number one.