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Earth Science

Geologists Warned of Washington State Mudslides For Decades 230

Posted by timothy
from the always-better-in-retrospect dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "The Seattle Times reports that since the 1950s, geological reports on the hill that buckled last weekend, killing at least 17 residents in Snohomish County in Washington State, have included pessimistic analyses and the occasional dire prediction. But no language seems more prescient than what appears in a 1999 report filed warning of 'the potential for a large catastrophic failure.' Daniel Miller, a geomorphologist, documented the hill's landslide conditions in a report written in 1997 for the Washington Department of Ecology and the Tulalip Tribes. Miller knows the hill's history, having collected reports and memos from the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s and has a half-dozen manila folders stuffed with maps, slides, models and drawings, all telling the story of an unstable hillside that has defied efforts to shore it up. That's why he could not believe what he saw in 2006, when he returned to the hill within weeks of a landslide that crashed into and plugged the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, creating a new channel that threatened homes on a street called Steelhead Drive. Instead of seeing homes being vacated, he saw carpenters building new ones. 'Frankly, I was shocked that the county permitted any building across from the river,' says Miller. 'We've known that it's been failing. It's not unknown that this hazard exists.'" (More, below.)
"The hill that collapsed is referred to by geologists with different names, including Hazel Landslide and Steelhead Haven Landslide, a reference to the hillside's constant movement. After the hill gave away in 1949, in '51, in '67, in '88, in 2006, residents referred to it simply as 'Slide Hill.' 'People knew that this was a landslide-prone area,' says John Pennington. Geomorphologist Tracy Drury said there were discussions over the years about whether to buy out the property owners in the area, but those talks never developed into serious proposals. 'I think we did the best that we could under the constraints that nobody wanted to sell their property and move.'"
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Geologists Warned of Washington State Mudslides For Decades

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:30AM (#46609019)

    And still not much is being done to stop it. Wait 30 years and you'll see this same article here, only referencing global warming.

    • ...is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result - A. Einstein.
    • by flyneye (84093)

      Look at the story after this, California quakes.
      I theorize that seismic activity shook the mud loose. I cite Samuel Clemens standing on Nicola Teslas vibrating platform as proof of concept.
      California shakes and Washington took a dump.
      Its Scienterrific!

    • by dbIII (701233)
      Since a report about it landed on President Johnson's desk we've already had the 30 years plus change.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @10:58AM (#46609611)

      The stupidity of a bunch of people that believe academics can afford better publicity people than oil companies is amazing. This is exactly the same thing. The geologist states facts once and thinks it's settled. The housing developers have a staff of people who keep asking different officials uni they find one who listens. Then they keep commissioning secret reports until they find a tame "expert" land slide denialist. When they find this person they pay a huge amount more to publish the report.

      These are people who are killing people for money. Even of the denialist "expert" is an idiot who never realises what he's done, the industrialist behind him knows exactly what is going on. What should we do?

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        >What should we do?

        Charge the developers with manslaughter, at least?

        • by jythie (914043)
          But... but.. personal responsibility!

          Currently the idea of being 'responsible' only covers your own life, whatever you do to others, as long as you made a profit, is their own fault.
          • by Immerman (2627577)

            Exactly. Did the developers make perfectly clear to the buyers what risks were involved? If so they're off the hook, if not...

            Ditto on resale - did the fully-informed previous owners pass on the dire warnings to the new buyers? If not, then *they* are the ones on the hook for manslaughter.

            • Exactly. Did the developers make perfectly clear to the buyers what risks were involved? If so they're off the hook, if not...

              Ditto on resale - did the fully-informed previous owners pass on the dire warnings to the new buyers? If not, then *they* are the ones on the hook for manslaughter.

              This is America. Nobody's off the hook when a lawyer is involved. Ever.

            • by Aighearach (97333)

              Exactly. Did the developers make perfectly clear to the buyers what risks were involved? If so they're off the hook, if not...

              I'd say if they were clear about the risks, that is manslaughter. If they lied about the risks, murder 2.

          • by Jawnn (445279)
            Surely, you are being sarcastic and I've just been whooshed. Surely you aren't arguing that personal responsibility has anything at all to do with the tragedy here, because that would just be too fucking stupid. You know, to suggest that the residents would somehow "just know" that an entire mountainside might come down and flatten their houses and kill them.
    • Man keep up with the conspiracy theories! The intelligentsia illuminati KNOW global warming is real, but it will helpfully kill off most of the imbeciles with famine, drought, and pestilence on a biblical scale right about the time that automation put them out of work anyways. This prevent revolution, and allows the technocracy to implement "changes" that may deprive liberties but will allow the remaining knuckleheads to survive, which will encourage them to accept that privacy is dead, and that Zombie Li

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect#History

      The existence of the greenhouse effect was argued for by Joseph Fourier in 1824. The argument and the evidence was further strengthened by Claude Pouillet in 1827 and 1838, and reasoned from experimental observations by John Tyndall in 1859, and more fully quantified by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.

      In 1917 Alexander Graham Bell wrote “[The unchecked burning of fossil fuels] would have a sort of greenhouse effect”, and “The net result is th

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      And still not much is being done to stop it. Wait 30 years and you'll see this same article here, only referencing global warming.

      Odd, I thought that they'd been claiming that the end of the world would be coming every 10 years for the last 30 years. I can pretty much find that in literature easily enough, including that: No glaciers by 2000, no snow falls by 2000, and 2010 in europe, no polar ice caps, and a whole pile of other things.

      • by Aighearach (97333) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @04:58PM (#46611435) Homepage

        Odd, I thought that they'd been claiming that the end of the world would be coming every 10 years for the last 30 years.

        That's because instead of listening to the predictions, you waved your hands without even knowing what the predictions were.

        I can pretty much find that in literature easily enough, including that: No glaciers by 2000, no snow falls by 2000, and 2010 in europe, no polar ice caps, and a whole pile of other things.

        What you failed to realize is that those were not the predictions of mainstream climate science, but of wackos were paraded in front of you as straw men. I call you on your bullshit and invite you to look up that "literature."

      • Sure, knock yourself out posting your evidence. It would make a nice change form denialists who consistently speak in generalities or hyperbole and then when questioned tell us they were only being 'sarcastic', as if the climate sensitivity to CO2 can somehow be reduced to zero by the application of rhetoric in the general direction.

        As if the climate is somehow open to achieving consensus if we can just act like it's a political opponent for long enough: "OK OK, we'll agree to a climate sensitivity of 1.8

  • Muh freedoms! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:38AM (#46609035)

    "I wanna build that wood-made doll house on the side of the collapsing hill, on a shore of a constant tide, at the bottom of a restless avalanche, in the way of a hundred hurricanes, next to an ever-flooding river, at the feet of a volcano! And you ain't gonna stop me!"

    • I'd mod the AC up.. thats really the point here. If people want to build and live in a dangerous location then they have to accept the risks.

      • by dbIII (701233)
        San Francisco (earthquakes), Rabaul (in the caldera of a volcano that exploded, then has started coming up again), Auckland (sort of like living on top of Yellowstone, but it wasn't obvious until a few years ago) and even Chicago (If the New Madrid earthquakes happen again that place is rubble) are examples that people do want to play those odds.
        • Memphis you mean. Memphis is the largish city with the biggest New Madrid issue.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I wouldn't mind if it were just made out of wood. But it's also made out of PVC and galvanized steel and all kinds of other things that I don't want burned up, so at minimum I don't want people to be permitted to build houses that are likely to burn down even if there is no particular fire danger to others. And I certainly don't want people to be able to have significant generator fuel storage without spill containment, or where it's likely to be pushed into a river by a landslide.

      I believe in people's righ

    • Re:Muh freedoms! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @10:48AM (#46609549)

      Basically, yes. Throw in a dash of the "government is doing it", and you've pretty much captured the sentiment that many people have when told they are proposing to build in a dangerous place. Often, they already own the land, and will complain bitterly about the loss of their investment if they are later told how dangerous the location is.

      As a geologist, I'm mostly fine with people building where they want when it comes to risks. As long as: A) you sign a declaration and submit it to the local government indicating that you have been informed of and accept all of the risks inherent to that very dangerous site; B) that such a declaration be attached to the deed and any bill of sale so that if the property is transferred to someone else they will know of and be bound by the same terms; C) you're on your own when it comes to getting house and other property insurance; and D) you pay into some kind of private emergency rescue fund rather than expecting government emergency personnel to put their lives at risk trying to get you out of there when it all goes bad.

      No taxpayer-funded bailouts for that kind of informed, free, but stupid choice.

      Alternatively, people could be rational about it and not build there, but if they insist on not being rational about it, then they should be forced to do so on their own dollar.

      This is not to diminish the feelings about the losses in this tragic case, but if people were well-informed about the risks and built there anyway, they have to live with the consequences. And if they weren't well-informed, then heads should roll.

      • by Immerman (2627577)

        Hear, hear.

      • Re:Muh freedoms! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by jythie (914043) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @11:26AM (#46609737)
        One tricky part there, people have children. The adults who buy the land and sign the documents might be able to understand the risks (I say might since the risks are probably presented to them through a filter), but their children can not... so right there you have a population living within a dangerous area who have no control over being there nor do they have the ability/resources to purchase their own private ways of being safe.
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by dkf (304284)

          One tricky part there, people have children.

          What's tricky about it? If they're so stupid that they're willing to put their children in that sort of danger, the children are likely to have inherited the lack of basic intelligence and foresight. Good Darwinian principles suggests that culling the herd in that sort of situation is reasonable; no action is needed beyond telling the parents "I told you so" after the fact if they survive, before suggesting that this indicates that they'd be best off getting sterilised for the good of the rest of humanity.

          G

    • by mspohr (589790)

      I'm afraid that you are right.
      An interesting article in the NY Times today talks about that very subject:
      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03... [nytimes.com]
      Basically, if you try to prevent people from building where it might be unsafe, you run up against all of the "freedom" people and greed and "guvmt meddling" people.

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      Nice ASSumption that the victims were all the original builders. I suspect many of them simply saw a house for sale and bought it - and were not made aware of the risk.

      • by Aighearach (97333)

        Or even, worked nearby and rented a house and had no reason to believe it wasn't safe, and no reason to invest in a study or report.

        The whole "if they know the risks" stuff breaks down fast, because owning a residence probably means they have a Right to let others live there with them. So for the "knowing their risks" stuff, they'd still have to have their rights restricted in a way where everybody that comes onto the property has also had the risks explained to them. And people who can't understand the ris

  • 'Murica! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pumpkin Tuna (1033058) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:40AM (#46609043)

    Why do they hate our freedom to build somewhere incredibly stupid and dangerous?

    • by Arith (708986)
      Jokes aside, I never understood why people live in KNOWN dangerous places.
      There was a small town near my hometown. My boss at the time lived in this small town. Every year around spring time that small town would flood. My boss' house would literally have a moat. Tells me how tough he's got it because he has to move all his stuff from the bottom floor to keep from getting wet. I had a hard time finding sympathy for him. Why? That entire small town was BUILT ON A FLOOD PLANE.
      Then again that town had a nic
      • Re:'Murica! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:25AM (#46609167)

        > Jokes aside, I never understood why people live in KNOWN dangerous places.

        Because it's only one factor. Farmers value the fertile land where floods deposit soil, and it's rarely feasible to live very far from the farm. Traders value the shipping made easier by river or ocean traffic near river heads, but those are likely flood areas. Damming and irrigation and dikes can actually _change_ the shape of the flood plain, making formerly safe areas profoundly more dangerous. Industries rely on the river water or hydro-electric power, and long commutes to work are a subtle tax on every worker's time every day.

        Would you pay double the price of your current home, or apartment, to live in a safer place further from your work? Could you afford it?

        • Beach houses (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          When it comes to beach houses, nothing can be done to protect them from hurricanes. But people still build huge homes there. A hurricane comes by and wipes them out, the President declares a disaster area, government (taxpayers) pays to rebuild - rinse and repeat.

          See, the wealthy people who own beach houses also have the political clout to get us peons to pay for their luxuries.

          What we need is to just say, "Sorry, you build on the beach and your house gets smashed by a hurricane, tough shit. Eat it."

          • Probably 90% of Americans live in places that are way too risky. The Mississippi river reaches out quite a ways at time. Joplin Missouri found out what tornadoes can do. Even ice storms in the north can cause serious losses to property and lives as well. A town in Texas was once eliminated by a war ship accidentally exploding in the harbor. It gets worse when buildings are not required to be strong enough to survive various emergencies. The last hurricane I went through had my neighborhood isolate
            • by jgotts (2785)

              The Great Lakes region has a significant percentage of the US's population and I would not consider it "way too risky."

              Southeast Michigan, part of this region, has around 5.5 million people. We haven't had a significant natural disaster that I'm aware of in the last 100 years or more. We are not subject to tsunamis or earthquakes. We're far away from the ocean and fault lines. We aren't subject to volcanoes or rock slides. This region is flat; no mountains here. Remnants of hurricanes cause little more than

      • by dbIII (701233)
        I'm in the same boat but it's two floods in a century and built not long after another flood a bit more than a century ago. Ten feet from the ground to the floor and it doesn't even lock up underneath. In the last flood I just moved stuff upstairs and left the place for a week just so I wouldn't have to be the sort of idiot that stayed and had to be rescued off a rooftop if the flood was bigger than expected.
        It's like how other places have to deal with fires or tornadoes. The expected can be dealt with.
      • by jythie (914043)
        We are kinda running out of nice places to live. On an individual scale we can ask 'would you pay more to live somewhere safer', but if we extend that out, well, there are only so many nice and safe places, if people stop living in the dangerous areas it will drive the prices of other areas up and they will go right back to living in the bad places.
      • by mspohr (589790)

        We have a situation near us in the community of Squaw Valley with is a (duh) valley with steep slides where there are avalanches in heavy snow years (not this year due to global warming). There are houses in the avalanche paths so they are required to post a large sign on the bathroom door warning people that the house is in an avalanche path.
        I guess that's the best they can do.

      • Jokes aside, I never understood why people live in KNOWN dangerous places.

        Actually, there are damn few places in the US that are not subject to some type of natural disaster. http://www.datafoundry.com/dis... [datafoundry.com] And this does not include the power grid killing ice storms... And southwest Texas, while nice from a natural disaster standpoint has a rather large man made disaster of the drug trade and related crime to contend with. So, where are you going to live?

      • by mikael (484)

        It's a fundamental rule of geology, well documented in a 1960's book called "The Exploding Metropolis".

        The most productive agricultural fields happens to be land which has a near constant groundwater level, which is best achieved from being away from hillsides, mountain canyons and river flood plains, ideally raised plateaus formed from river sedimentation. Everything else then has a lower land value, due to the dangers of landslides, avalanches, flash flooding, subsidence and sinkholes. Downtown areas will

  • by rmdingler (1955220) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @08:56AM (#46609097)
    We have the same problem with evacuations from hurricane corridors. Immediately following a destructive storm, citizens evacuate as recommended, for a while.

    At some point the urgency wanes, the storm turns at the last before landfall again, and fewer people leave their homes.

    Since the '50's is way past most folks' attention spans.

    • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:14AM (#46609135)

      The hurricane situation is a lot stupider than this one. The states force insurance companies to provide insurance to everyone and dictate that the rates can't be too high. So the insurance company raises the rate state-wide to cover the costs of the people living in the most prone areas. My mother-in-laws Florida home that just sold for a whopping $60k had premium that was $5000 per year before she sold it. That's INSANE. But the majority of the states revenue comes from the coast so that's what they protect.

      • by timeOday (582209)
        It is annoying. Although, in looking for supporting information, I found some mitigating information instead: [fema.gov]

        In 2012, the U.S. Congress passed the Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 which calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and other agencies, to make a number of changes to the way the NFIP is run. As the law is implemented, some of these changes have already occurred, and others will be implemented in the coming months. Key provisions of the legislation will require the NFIP to raise

      • It is a constructive conspiracy. First we allow private businesses to sell mortgages. Realizing that banks could be destroyed if a hurricane destroys too many mortgaged properties we then allow mortgage sellers to demand that the property be insured upon penalty of repossession. That in turn allows insurance companies which probably own the banks anyway to charge absurd rates. The state steps in a tries to regulate the greed of the insurance companies. Now here is the catch. Florida would be mu
  • by thsths (31372) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:14AM (#46609137)

    The story in the news was particularly "funny".

    It starts with "and then the slope collapsed without any warning".

    Later it stated that "scientists warned of the risk in a report 15 years ago".

    So how is that "without any warning"?

    And I hate it when they say "scientists". They don't say "celebrities", "politicians", "football players" - no, they use names. But scientists always remain nameless. Scientists are not amorphous magicians, they are people like you and me.

    • So how is that "without any warning"?

      So, if someone said to you, "your house is likely to catch fire in the future", and then your house caught fire 15 years later, you'd be thinking "damnit! I was warned this would happen, I should have listened to that guy 15 years ago and moved"??

      And I hate it when they say "scientists". They don't say "celebrities", "politicians", "football players" - no, they use names. But scientists always remain nameless. Scientists are not amorphous magicians, they are people lik

      • "So, if someone said to you, "your house is likely to catch fire in the future", and then your house caught fire 15 years later, you'd be thinking "damnit! I was warned this would happen, I should have listened to that guy 15 years ago and moved"??"

        if that person said it would catch fire in the future because of faulty wiring (or something else) then i'd fix the wiring.
        • by rabtech (223758) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @11:02AM (#46609629) Homepage

          So, if someone said to you, "your house is likely to catch fire in the future", and then your house caught fire 15 years later, you'd be thinking "damnit! I was warned this would happen, I should have listened to that guy 15 years ago and moved"??"

          if that person said it would catch fire in the future because of faulty wiring (or something else) then i'd fix the wiring.

          Ah, the arguments of the willfully ignorant. I wish I were still a conservative. No nuances, no questions. Everything had a trite simple answer.

          Reality does not so neatly fit into a box.

          House fires happen rapidly. They are also largely preventable. And even though one person's house fire may be a tragedy, pouring water on it puts out the fire. (Remember kids: the fire department exists to prevent your house fire from burning down the rest of the city, not to save your house)

          Mudslides, like earthquakes, are triggered by complex conditions that are not knowable by humans in advance (with any degree of certainty). They also cannot be prevented or controlled. There is no "Mudslide Department" because there is no response. By the time you find out about it, the mudslide is over and the damage is done.

          This case is very simple to explain: no one wants to be the person who "wastes" taxpayer dollars buying out homeowners and tearing down houses when the potential disaster can strike anywhere between tomorrow and 50 years from now. So county officials, housing developers, and maybe to some degree homeowners all chose to ignore the report and get on with their lives. That works great, right up until the moment when everyone died.

          • This case is very simple to explain: no one wants to be the person who "wastes" taxpayer dollars buying out homeowners and tearing down houses when the potential disaster can strike anywhere between tomorrow and 50 years from now.

            Wait, so you would be willing to buy the houses of those people with your own money so they could move somewhere else?

          • Thinking short term is not thinking at all. For example there are many people who have been warned for 50 years that cigarettes would kill them or cause great harm who still smoke. It really does matter a lot what will happen in fifty years. To pretend it does not is part of the fog of youth. It is like telling a kid in the seventh grade that if he does not really value education he will be screwed for life. That information rarely turns a kid around who is on the wrong path.
        • by jythie (914043)
          Or better yet, "there is a tire fire over in the next lot which will eventually spread to your house"
      • Here in Colorado Springs, we've had two catastrophic fires in two years that destroyed 850 houses. People are rebuilding in place, and the media celebrates their resolve. At least it'll take a few years for the fuels to accumulate again, but you have to wonder sometimes...
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      And I hate it when they say "scientists". They don't say "celebrities", "politicians", "football players" - no, they use names. But scientists always remain nameless. Scientists are not amorphous magicians, they are people like you and me.

      If they listed all the names of scientists who have warned about this since 1950, there wouldn't be room for anything else on that page.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:20AM (#46609153)

    As a tech working in Southern California with a B.A. in Geology, I can tell you that most geologic reports that are prepared are typically all but ignored by developers, leading to many problems down the road, and occasional tragedies such as this. I know of a large building built in the San Andreas Fault Zone that did not have the proper footings in place, and has sunk as a result (not from any earthquake, but from the nature of the fractured strata beneath the site), costing more taxpayer money to save it (this being a state institution).

    Geologist warnings serve more to set insurance rates then to avoid issues, and many lives have been lost, and will be lost as a result. Geologist by the nature of their science look at the land in terms of what will happen over time, while Developers are concerned with only if their investment will pay off in the short term, assuming the added risk as just an increase in insurance costs taken from their bottom lines.

    • 'Developers' build state institution buildings on spec? State buildings are built by the state, usually based on a bond issue. Clearly the problem is not with the developers alone.

    • Uhmm... Money trumps everything. More people die from a lack of money than from mudslides... Wasting a few billion on inspecting shoes in airports means it can not go to disease research, or fresh water projects, or health care, or... Large amounts of money ends up being wasted in very unlikely but high profile disasters where "We have to do something!" Unfortunately, the money is not unlimited...
  • by a2wflc (705508) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @09:41AM (#46609213)

    Think of all of the warnings we hear from scientists/experts.

    Mudslides, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes - there are lots of places we just shouldn't live because some day there will be a disaster.

    Bridges, buildings, subways - there are lots of man-made structures we need to repair. some will collapse

    Diet, medicine, excessive - it will harm society if we are allowed 20 oz drinks or salt at the table.

    We could probably list legitimate warnings all day. And I'll probably experience dozens of things today that scientists have warned about. This situation is tragic but it doesn't mean anyone is to blame. With 1000s of warnings from scientists, some will happen - but most don't.

      If there's anywhere to focus it's on how to evaluate and prioritize warnings across a wide variety of areas (natural disaster, diet, structures, etc). We don't have the resources to fix everything we are warned about - where do we start?

    The other thing we may want to learn is that the media should not over-hype all warnings. People need to know better what warnings to pay attention to. When we watch the news and scientists say "just about everything you do today" may kill you (or the planet), why even try to fix anything?

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Think of all of the warnings we hear from scientists/experts.

      At once? I'll try.

      We could probably list legitimate warnings all day. And I'll probably experience dozens of things today that scientists have warned about. This situation is tragic but it doesn't mean anyone is to blame. With 1000s of warnings from scientists, some will happen - but most don't.

      [citation needed]

    • by wytcld (179112)

      Well, you could either conclude "Too many warnings! I'll shut my ears and hum." Or you could not build homes under a mountain famous for its mudslides. If you build on an earthquake fault, you can build to handle a quake. You can fund repair of bridges, buildings and transit systems before they fail. You can avoid taking in too much sugar (salt it turns out is mostly good for you; low-salt dieters don't live as long, on average).

      We do have the resources to vastly improve the odds. We mostly aren't investing

  • "Hey Sharon! Come look at the crap I just took!"

  • Undoubtedly, some geologist, meteorologist, seismologist or other expert has condemned every hill, valley, riverside, coast, flood plain, swamp, open plain, and so forth in the United States. Undoubtedly, every square inch of the United States is uninhabitable. Still, you have to live somewhere.
  • This is decades old news.
  • by PPH (736903) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @11:43AM (#46609829)

    There's a story in Washington State that all of the river names here, Snohomish, Skykomish, Skokomish, have the postfix "ish". Which is an Indian term meaning "This is a flood plain, idiot. Don't build your house here."

  • by Beeftopia (1846720) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @12:22PM (#46609985)

    Whether it's the regulators overseeing the Deepwater Horizon being captured by the oil and gas industry, or whether it's local politicians being captured by the Finance/Real Estate sector, the results are usually bad for the society. And occasionally, they becomes spectacularly lethal.

    To overcome the persistent regulatory capture of the US government, two things must occur:

    1) Overhaul of the campaign finance system (so politiicians will be more inclined to work for their constituents not their highest bidder).
    2) Term limits (because power corrupts).

    • by anagama (611277)

      Term limit idea: one term in any part (i.e., no going to the senate after being in the house) and you get summarily executed at the end of the term.

      That would attract some strange people to politics. Not sure if they'd be more dangerous than what we have though.

    • When you are LUCKY enough to have a great leader who remains honest despite the pressures of the office and successfully navigates the inevitable compromising positions, you should KEEP them as long as possible! Get them body guards to protect against "accidents" too!

      IT IS RARE TO FIND HONEST LEADERS; you can't replace them. More games of musical chairs played by crooks does not produce better results. Therefore, I am against term limits. I'm still for assuming politicians are guilty until proven innocen

    • by HiThere (15173)

      Term limits haven't really improved things around here. Granted they are allowed to be re-elected.

      #1 is a valid concern, but even that's not the main problem with the US election system. The main problem is that it's a plurality wins system rather than a majority wins system (like Instant Runoff Voting or Condorcet Voting). This, in and of itself, tends to separate all arguments into either "my side supports it" or "my side rejects it" where each side has a constellation of different positions. This, in

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @12:42PM (#46610067)
    Western Washington has millions of people living in slide zones, living on old slide deposits, living in front of future slides. It's easy to point to one active slide area and say 'damn fools shouldn't have lived there' but the reality is that we live in the shadow of glaciers from the recent past that resulted in widespread deposits of soupy soil. Western Washington is also a high-hazard area for huge earthquakes, as are many parts of California. Do people expect everyone to move? Or what about Oklahoma or Kansas in the path of tornadoes? Or Minnesotans subject to stinging blizzards and arctic chill? Or...? You get the idea. You try and identify the hazards, mitigate them, and warn of them. In the case of the Oso landslide, there never should have been clearcut logging above the slide-prone area, there should have been monitoring of the water levels, and there should have been drainage mitigations installed years ago...as there have been in many other similar areas including just up the road from Oso. So...don't tell people to move until you're prepared to tell Californians or Oklahomans or English or Japanese or whoever to move.
  • As a libertarian with a localist bent this is a issue I think a lot about. But if America wants a Nanny State....lets go full Nanny State where the Nanny can be fired if the kids go to the ER with a yard dart sticking out the side of little marys head.

    If government worked as promised once a area becomes known as a slide, avalanche, wildfire, tusnami, tornado, sinkhole, earthquake or flood risk where the chance of total loss of the property or the occupants is a real number, permitting of new residen
  • 'under the constraints that nobody wanted to sell their property and move.'

    After all, eminent domain is restricted only to cases where you need to give the land to private development. :P

  • by Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) on Saturday March 29, 2014 @04:02PM (#46611119)

    It's hell on Earth here! Raining at the moment! When it stops it'll go back to our 9 straight months of greyness! No jobs! Unless hack sacking weed smoking hippies who make careers out of pan handling count! Furious volcanoes! Floods! People being chased by landslides! [youtube.com] Don't move here! It sucks! Stay where you are! It's mostly just more pavement! Plus you can't pump your own gas! And you get a holy reaming on your property taxes! Here be dragons! And rabid beavers!

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