1A Tricky, High-Stakes Game

Earthquake risk is a game of chance of which we do not know all the rules. It is true that we gamble against our will, but this doesn't make it less of a game.

Lomnitz (1989)1

1.1    Where We Are Today

Natural hazards are the price we pay for living on an active planet. The tectonic plate subduction producing Japan's rugged Tohoku coast gives rise to earthquakes and tsunamis. Florida's warm sunny weather results from the processes in the ocean and atmosphere that cause hurricanes. The volcanoes that produced Hawaii's spectacular islands sometimes threaten people. Rivers that provide the water for the farms that feed us sometimes flood.

Humans have to live with natural hazards. We describe this challenge in terms of ...

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