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Friday Forum: Learning from the Big Ones, How Natural Disasters Affect Human Communities

12:00pm, 10-18-2019
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Earthquakes, floods, tsunamis, hurricanes, and volcanoes—they all stem from the very same forces that give our planet life. It is only when these forces exceed our ability to withstand them that they become disasters. Science and engineering can be used to understand extreme events and to design our cities to be resilient, but we must overcome the psychological drive to normalization that keeps humanity from believing that we could experience anything worse than what we have already survived. As climate change increases the intensity of extreme storms and and urban population growth increases the complexity of our life-sustaining systems, we must examine the history of natural disasters to understand how we can make our society more resilient.

Friday Forum returns with a focus on how natural disasters, from Earthquakes to Climate Change affect human communities. We'll hear Dr. Lucy "Earthquake Lady" Jones as she looks through the lenses of science and history to understand the impacts of natural disasters on people. Her lecture will cover earthquakes, as well as her increasing concerns about the impacts of climate change that we are already feeling (smoke from wildfire, flooding, etc.). She will speak about natural disasters both broadly and specifically in addition to human psychology as it relates to possible future disasters. We will follow her speech with our normal Q&A.


About Dr. Lucy Jones

World-renowned seismologist Dr. Lucy Jones is the 2019-20 Wayne Morse Chair for Law and Politics and will be in residence at the University of Oregon in October, co-teaching a course and offering public lectures in Eugene and Portland. With a BA from Brown University and a Ph.D. in Geophysics from MIT, Dr. Jones is a Research Associate at the Seismological Laboratory of Caltech, a post she has held since 1984. She completed 33 years of federal service with the US Geological Survey where she served most recently as the USGS Science Advisor for Risk Reduction, leading the USGS’s long-term science planning for natural hazards research. Dr. Jones is credited with creating the Great ShakeOut Drill, an earthquake preparation experiment that by 2016 included 53 million participants around the world. She is the founder of the Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, with a mission to foster the understanding and application of scientific information in the creation of more resilient communities. Working with both the public and private sectors, Dr. Jones seeks to increase communities’ ability to adapt and be resilient to the dynamic changes of the world around them. She has been a prominent public voice on the science of natural disasters, conducting thousands of media interviews and appearing on all major news broadcasts and cable news networks, as well as NPR. Her book, “The Big Ones: How Natural Disasters Have Shaped Us (and What We Can Do About Them),” was an Amazon Best Science Book of 2018.

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