Economic Consequences of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Scenario Earthquakes for Urban Areas Along the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States
New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation
If today a magnitude 6 earthquake were to occur centered on New York City, what would its effects be? Will the loss be 10 or 100 billion dollars? Will there be 10 or 10,000 fatalities? Will there be 1,000 or 100,000 homeless needing shelter? Can government function, provide assistance, and maintain order?
At this time, no satisfactory answers to these questions are available. A few years ago, rudimentary scenario studies were made for Boston and New York with limited scope and uncertain results. For most eastern cities, including Washington D.C., we know even less about the economic, societal and political impacts from significant earthquakes, whatever their rate of occurrence.
Why do we know so little about such vital public issues? Because the public has been lulled into believing that seriously damaging quakes are so unlikely in the east that in essence we do not need to consider them. We shall examine the validity of this widely held opinion.
Is the public’s earthquake awareness (or lack thereof) controlled by perceived low Seismicity, Seismic Hazard, or Seismic Risk? How do these three seismic features differ from, and relate to each other? In many portions of California, earthquake awareness is refreshed in a major way about once every decade (and in some places even more often) by virtually every person experiencing a damaging event. The occurrence of earthquakes of given magnitudes in time and space, not withstanding their effects, are the manifestations of seismicity. Ground shaking, faulting, landslides or soil liquefaction are the manifestations of seismic hazard. Damage to structures, and loss of life, limb, material assets, business and services are the manifestations of seismic risk. By sheer experience, California’s public understands fairly well these three interconnected manifestations of the earthquake phenomenon. This awareness is reflected in public policy, enforcement of seismic regulations, and preparedness in both the public and private sector. In the eastern U.S., the public and its decision makers generally do not understand them because of inexperience. Judging seismic risk by rates of seismicity alone (which are low in the east but high in the west) has undoubtedly contributed to the public’s tendency to belittle the seismic loss potential for eastern urban regions.
Let us compare two hypothetical locations, one in California and one in New York City. Assume the location in California does experience, on average, one M = 6 every 10 years, compared to New York once every 1,000 years. This implies a ratio of rates of seismicity of 100:1. Does that mean the ratio of expected losses (when annualized per year) is also 100:1? Most likely not. That ratio may be closer to 10:1, which seems to imply that taking our clues from seismicity alone may lead to an underestimation of the potential seismic risks in the east. Why should this be so?
To check the assertion, let us make a back-of-the-envelope estimate. The expected seismic risk for a given area is defined as the area-integrated product of: seismic hazard (expected shaking level), assets ($ and people), and the assets’ vulnerabilities (that is, their expected fractional loss given a certain hazard – say, shaking level). Thus, if we have a 100 times lower seismicity rate in New York compared to California, which at any given point from a given quake may yield a 2 times higher shaking level in New York compared to California because ground motions in the east are known to differ from those in the west; and if we have a 2 times higher asset density (a modest assumption for Manhattan!), and a 2 times higher vulnerability (again a modest assumption when considering the large stock of unreinforced masonry buildings and aged infrastructure in New York), then our California/New York ratio for annualized loss potential may be on the order of (100/(2x2x2)):1. That implies about a 12:1 risk ratio between the California and New York location, compared to a 100:1 ratio in seismicity rates.
From this example it appears that seismic awareness in the east may be more controlled by the rate of seismicity than by the less well understood risk potential. This misunderstanding is one of the reasons why earthquake awareness and preparedness in the densely populated east is so disproportionally low relative to its seismic loss potential. Rare but potentially catastrophic losses in the east compete in attention with more frequent moderate losses in the west. New York City is the paramount example of a low-probability, high-impact seismic risk, the sort of risk that is hard to insure against, or mobilize public action to reduce the risks.
There are basically two ways to respond. One is to do little and wait until one or more disastrous events occur. Then react to these – albeit disastrous – “windows of opportunity.” That is, pay after the unmitigated facts, rather than attempt to control their outcome. This is a high-stakes approach, considering the evolved state of the economy. The other approach is to invest in mitigation ahead of time, and use scientific knowledge and inference, education, technology transfer, and combine it with a mixture of regulatory and/or economic incentives to implement earthquake preparedness. The National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP) has attempted the latter while much of the public tends to cling to the former of the two options. Realistic and reliable quantitative loss estimation techniques are essential to evaluate the relative merits of the two approaches.
This paper tries to bring into focus some of the seismological factors which are but one set of variables one needs for quantifying the earthquake loss potential in eastern U.S. urban regions. We use local and global analogs for illustrating possible scenario events in terms of risk. We also highlight some of the few local steps that have been undertaken towards mitigating against the eastern earthquake threat; and discuss priorities for future actions.
Next article September 29, 2014

Iran To Unify With Pakistan (Daniel 8)

'Stand against oppressors who have attacked people in Ramadan'

After seven years, Iran’s Khamenei rakes up Kashmir again

27 Jun 2017 | By Gogona Saikia
In a surprising development, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei asked Muslims around the world to support people of Kashmir and other places against “oppressors” who attacked people in Ramzan.
He compared the situation in Kashmir to that of the “oppressed nations” of Yemen and Bahrain.
The last time Khamenei raked up the Kashmir issue was seven years earlier. India had then lodged a protest.
Khamenei’s official website carried a transcription of his Eid address. He said Islamic nations are covered in “wounds”, and that Muslims should raise their voices in support of their brothers.
“Our people can back this great movement within the World of Islam,” he said.
In both Yemen and Bahrain, Iran is accused of backing the Houthis and Shia activists against the governments.
In September 2010, the Iranian Foreign Ministry criticized the Indian government for firing on Kashmiri activists protesting the burning of a Quran in US. Later in November, Khamenei compared Kashmir to Gaza and Afghanistan, calling for support for the “struggle”.
India had then summoned the Iranian ambassador to lodge a protest.
Two years later, the then PM Manmohan Singh met Khamenei on relatively friendly-terms.
The difference this time is that “we are in a post-deal environment where India is working very hard (with Iran) to bring strategic projects like Chabahar to fruition, despite the US president’s moves to undermine the nuclear deal”, says foreign affairs specialist Sumitha N. Kutty.
The timing is significant: it came on the day PM Narendra Modi was scheduled to meet US President Donald Trump, who views the Hassan Rouhani government as “opposed to US interests”.
There’s also speculation about concerns in Tehran about India’s growing friendship with Saudi Arabia.
Raking up the issue could simply be an attempt to draw international and Islamic attention to the Kashmir situation.

The Growing Risk of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and have been on the brink of another several times, a worrying prospect given that both have growing stockpiles of nuclear weapons and questions about how secure they are.
The arms race between the South Asian neighbors has moved to enhancing the delivery systems for the warheads, which could annihilate the subcontinent several times. India’s recent launch of more than 100 satellites with a single rocket foreshadows the capability of sending up a missile with multiple nuclear weapons.
The volatility of the situation is further exacerbated because neither country has a national missile defense system, and it likely would take several years to get one in place.
While the policy of mutually assured destruction has kept hostilities from overheating so far, experts believe that a misunderstanding or misadventure could escalate to a full-fledged war with nuclear weapons in play.
And there are plenty of risks.
Kashmir a flashpoint
Kashmir has been a flashpoint since the subcontinent was partitioned in 1947 and caused the most recent flare-up last November. Both sides accuse each other of harboring terrorists who launch cross-border attacks. Therefore, the question is whether the nukes in South Asia could fall into the wrong hands during mobilization in the fog of war.
Nuclear arms experts Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris estimate that Pakistan has 120-130 nuclear warheads compared with India’s 110-120. India is said to have a stockpile of 540 kilograms of weapons grade plutonium, enough to produce 130 warheads. Pakistan has 3,100 kilograms of highly enriched uranium, sufficient to build 300 warheads. That’s a lot to keep an eye on.
“The nukes were safe when these were in storage areas in both countries,” Michael Krepon, co-founder and senior associate at Stimson Center, said in an interview with VOA’s Urdu Service. “But when these have to be moved around in a state of war, it surely raises a red flag about their security on many counts.
Serious concerns
“The biggest concern was about Pakistan’s tactical weapons, which have a very short range,” Krepon said. “It means that these will have to be moved very close to the battlefield. There are fears that independent groups who want to settle scores with either Pakistan or India could attack them.
“Secondly, these could be attacked by Indian warplanes. Thirdly, since the fissile material has to be transported separately to combine with the main structure, this fissile material could also come under attack. These factors pose greater concerns, especially in the United States.”
Professor Scott Sagan of Stanford University adds: “The plausible place to move these tactical nuclear weapons would be to roads where these would be less vulnerable to Indian attack due to their flexibility. However, this also generates a fear that these could become vulnerable to terrorists’ seizure in whole or in part. The same was true for India.”
The countries have continued to expand their nuclear capacity long past the stated goal of a “credible deterrence” the vow of no first use. “No first use policy in India was a misnomer, and India would opt for the first strike if it deemed necessary,” said Mueed Yousuf of the United States Institute for Peace.
Professor Paul Kapoor of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School added: “If India used nuclear weapons, it would use them in massive way to inflict an unacceptable harm to adverse countries.”
A two-pronged policy
Zamir Akram, a former Pakistani ambassador and U.N. representative, said Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine initially was based on India’s much larger superiority in conventional weapons. However, in response to India’s “Cold Start” doctrine, allowing it to attack Pakistan with conventional weapons to prevent nuclear retaliation, Pakistan changed its policy of minimum credible deterrence to full spectrum response with tactical weapons armed with low-grade nuclear material for use in the battlefield, Akram said.
Kapoor says that results in a two-pronged policy: use low-grade tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional war, and use nuclear weapons in case of an imminent nuclear attack by India.
“While Pakistan had a bigger stockpile of nukes as compared to India, the induction of very short-range tactical weapons into its conventional warfare mechanism was a worrying factor,” Krepon said.
India developed its first strategic ballistic missile in 1996 with a range of 250 kilometers. During the last decade, it has added medium- and long-range missiles that can reach Pakistan and China.
Pakistan has missiles capable of carrying conventional and nuclear warheads up to 2,750 kilometers, enough to target all major Indian cities, and cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.