Saturday, September 23, 2017

NY Times: Stupid On Pretty Much Anything You Could Think Of

h/t Pirate's Cove

So apparently, the NYSlimes has decided to slam Pres. Trump for not wasting money on a silly-ass earthquake warning system.

(Moonbatville) People cannot prevent earthquakes, but they can take steps to minimize the deaths and damage. Many more might have died in Mexico City this week had the country not invested in an early warning system that rang alarms just before the catastrophic earthquake struck. The United States, which has been slow to finish a similar system on the West Coast, can learn from Mexico’s example.(Discussion of what an early warning system can do)
The United States Geological Survey is building a warning system called ShakeAlert for California, Oregon and Washington. A prototype is up and running. But Congress has not appropriated the money to finish it. Officials say just 40 percent of the necessary field stations have been built so far. The Geological Survey says that it would cost $38 million to finish the system and $16 million a year to operate it. Congress appropriated just $10.2 million in the current fiscal year. (California and private foundations have also contributed money to the project over the years.)
As Pirate's Cove noted, it's not such a bright idea.


Let's do some maths, and since it's Saturday, I'll work it out for you.

P-waves radiate outward from an earthquake epicenter at 7 times the speed of sound in air (roughly 5300 MPH at sea level).
Love waves, the ground waves that do the actual damage, move outwards at a more sedate 700-1000 MPH.
IOW, in less than a minute, they've already arrived everywhere within 16 miles of the epicenter, or the nearest 860 square miles. In two minutes, the circle is 66 miles across, some 3400 square miles. Which is, for any foreseeable earthquake, the limit of anyone who cares, or needs warning.

Thus California, like everywhere else in the world, has a very precise earthquake warning system, and it costs zero dollars, with no annual maintenance fees:

If the ground shakes a lot, a dangerous earthquake is occurring.
If it doesn't shake so much, it's no big deal.

No warning system can secure more than a few seconds to perhaps a minute's notice faster than that, and anyplace with more warning will be so far away that the warning is useless.
And for a nominal optimum processing time of 15 seconds, anyone within 3 miles of the epicenter will never be warned before the ground is already shaking like a leaf in a hurricane.

Thus any warning system is a boondoggle, of a range from dubious to nil utility on its best day.

So the NYSlimes knows as much about earthquake physics as they do about anthropogenic global warming, or the lack thereof.

They are, in fact, idiots on a scale that should set off Stupidity Alerts - at seven times the speed of sound - every time they write about something.
Pretty much like every day for the last 50 years.

In other news, no federal funding has been allocated to erecting barriers to keep elephants out of the trees in NFYC's Central Park, and for just about exactly the same reason: it'd be epic dumbassery and a total waste of money.

The Slimes should go after that level of wanton governmental heartless cruelty and be on it like white on rice. At least, until they go back on their meds.


loren said...

Well, you might be off on this one.
Those few seconds allow utilities to shut off major gas lines, large buildings to open elevators and trains to shut down. Japan uses this system.
On a longer timeline, a full system would warn NW coast residents to head for higher ground (assuming the large quake hits as predicted) as a Tsunami will clean up anybody west of Interstate 5.
Course those that live in a place where it's only a matter of time, your time will surely come so good luck, God bless and throw an extra can of Spam in your go bag.

RandyGC said...

Don't know enough to comment about the physics of the earthquake warning system, but there is a already a robust tsunami warning system that covers the left coast and Hawaii. I've seen it action as far back as the 80's and it gives several minutes to several hours warning.

Unless your'e close enough to the epicenter that a warning system only gives you enough time to tell you how you're going to die but not enough time to do anything about it. Some-days it just sucks to be you.

loren said...

You're right about the existing tsunami alert but unless it goes off before the infrastructure is destroyed by the secondary shocks it won't do much good.

Aesop said...

If we throw in the response time of utilities, etc. the actual warning time for anyone in the zone of concern drops to zero. By the time the warning arrives, and they could do anything, they'd have to be so far outside the major shake zone as to be immaterial. Nobody in any civilian capacity is going to swing into action, because they'll never be sitting around watching with SAC/NORAD levels of hyper-vigilance for decades waiting for that warning, with SOPs that'd allow them to do anything of substance before the ground is having a seizure under them.

It's like imagining you could call 911 for help, if the perpetrator was fleeing in an F-22 in supercruise, as if the cops could ever respond to catch that guy.
Not. Happening.

A tsunami arrives twenty minutes to hours after a major quake. That you can warn for, but FFS, the idjits in Fukushima and up and down the east coast of Japan had time to drive to the other side of Honshu if they'd been bright enough to do so before it arrived. When they can get me thirty minutes to two hours warning of an earthquake, we can talk. Currently there's nothing, including this system, worth pissing away $16M/yr forever on.

By the time you get any warning of the earthquake, you're either like me the morning of the Northridge 7.0, 5 seconds from the epicenter: wishing all the goddam car alarms would knock off; or you're like the guy 90 miles (and six minutes) away: "Wow, that jiggling lasted a long time; musta been a really big 'quake somewhere a ways away. When I wake up in 3 hours, I'll have to listen to the news and find out who got hit. ZZZZZzzzzzzz...". By the time the shake got to him, the earthquake where I lived had been over for five minutes.

They can research all they want, and maybe someday, decades after I'm dead and buried, they may have something that predicts a 'quake with certainty, precise location, and magnitude, with enough warning time to do any good. Like they can do with possible tsunamis.

But not spending money on this boondoggle is such a bad idea even Governor Moonbeam can spot the flaw, from miles away.

And if an earthquake had struck when you started reading this reply (assuming average reading speed), the ground shock would already be destroying buildings twenty to thirty miles away.

Aesop said...

And bear in mind, Florida, with a quarter the population at risk just SoCal has, and Houston, with barely half, need three days to get people out to safety.
Google CA traffic from 5AM to 9PM anywhere south of Santa Barbara, and tell me how long and how far anyone's moving when that few seconds of warning comes in: if they're lucky, they might have time to dive under a sturdy desk.

IOW, exactly what they do now, for free, with no warning system but common sense, price tag $0/yr/forever.

This boondoggle is nothing but a plaything for seismologists at CalTech, and a full employment act for geology graduate students in perpetuity. Let them raise the money privately, and get back to me when they have something worth talking about.

The article was the NYT, when you couple Trump Derangement Syndrome with compulsive fart-sniffing.

Tim said...

Someone's relative will get the cushy monitoring job at a very high salary, plus a few other high paying support staff that hold the appropriate political leanings, and illegal alien invaders will get peanuts to work on it.