In her fascinating study, The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do about Them), seismologist Lucy Jones examines 11 of history’s most destructive natural events, from the Lisbon earthquake in 1755 and the floods in Sacramento in 1861-1862 to the tsunami in the Indian Ocean in 2004 and the great 1927 flood in Mississippi, to reveal what we can learn from them ... Jones’ fascinating book takes a long view at natural events in order to help us understand our environment and to prepare for and survive natural disasters.
In her book, and after a lifetime studying the seismicity of Southern California, Jones appears to take much the same view, stoically. She reminds us, in sober terms, that the forces that bring us earthquakes and volcanoes and tsunamis and cyclones (and that also help form dramatic scenery and climate, of kinds among which we generally like to live) are also capable of bringing down more wrath and destruction than can ever be withstood ... It is a little disappointing to read that Jones has only the most anodyne and predictable of suggestions for dealing with all this impending doom — we must educate ourselves, build better and more resilient buildings, ape the Japanese, get our kids to drill, engage with local leaders, don’t assume the government will be much help (As if. See Michael Brown).
Her new book The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them) shares Jones' unlikely combination of realism and optimism ... To prevent disaster, we'll need to confront that reality. In The Big Ones, Jones presents the history of natural disasters as the history of ourselves; looking back as a way to look forward.