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I was shocked by the verdict and the sentances.
This is a "****ed if they do and ****ed if they don't" scenario.
It presumes that earthquake prediction is far more advanced and reliable than is the case (and we can say the same for volcanic eruptions maybe).
AT best scientists can present statistical evidence that an earthquake is due or not within a period but whether it occurs or not in that period is in the lap of the gods.
To be of any value when predicting earthquakes or volcanic eruptions it is necessary to be able to advise pretty precisely the time at which it will occur and some reasonable forecast of the magnitude. It is also necessary for such predictions to demonstrate a degree of confidence entirely lacking in today's state of play.
It is tempting to refer to the failure to predict the event as a sort of "Jaws" scenario but in that case the Great white did exist and was eating tourists.
With earthquakes and volcanoes there is no such certainty.
Imagine that the scientists had predicted the event and given an assessment of the magnitude and time.
The authorities could then evacuate everyone, set up an exclusion zone to prevent looters etc moving in.
They then have to accomodate these people and feed them.
But the time arrives and there is no earthquake. Do they now continue to maintain the evacuees in their camps indefinitely?
And what if instead of a 6.1 they get a mere tremble? No damage to property. Maybe a chimney pot falling.
AT what point do they decide to let everyone return home?
Who will compensate all the shop keepers for spoiled stock and loss of income?
I'm pretty sure a failed prediction or a prediction which misses both the magnitude and the timing by any significant amount would find themselves equally held to blame.
But this action ensures that no one will want to indulge in earthquake prediction in Italy ever again even wif the ability to make such predictions improves radically. Not even the amateur "seismologist" with his radon gas based prediction would want to continue making such predictions if he could face a significant period in jail.
I am rather surprised that this case was brought at all.
I would not expect any official or scientist (apart from warmers) who would be so prepared to stake their professional standing on making any sort of hard and fast predictions at all and the more circumspect the prediction the less value it is.
On the other hand, I wouldn't advise Michael Mann or STeve Jones to plan on visiting Italy since the damage they are causing is far and above the damage and loss of life in this case. Actually, let me rephrase that. I recommend to them that Italy is the only place to live.
We actually once had an evacuation of a city in Britain due to earthquake scare - London in 1750. The incident is described on this link:
The link is from the now defunct children's comic "Look and Learn", which was a comic effectively for school swots but it folded up soon after the grammar schools were phased out.
Basically there were two small earthquakes exactly four weeks apart felt in London in 1750, and some religious alarmist predicted London would be destroyed by a big earthquake in another four weeks, which resulted in a mass evacuation. The predictor was later imprisoned for "spreading false rumours".
It does strike me that if you're going to imprison anybody in this sort of situation, it makes more sense to lock up an alarmist than a non-alarmist. If you lock up non-alarmists, that tends to encourage more alarmist behaviour. Also the legislation which was used against the inaccurate predictor might still possibly exist in some form today.