According to some experts, to live in California is to make a wary peace with an existential dichotomy, it has some of the most breathtaking weather, astounding natural beauty, bounteous food and wine seen on this planet and not to mention the possibility of imminent, unpredictable disaster.
It all depends on where you live, Californians are just one spark, one mudslide, or even one earthquake away from severe destruction – this is a reality that is met with fear, fatalism or a variations of both but one that is omnipresent, if surprisingly easy to forget. Although bad, it is nothing compared to living in Israel in the midst of an Intifada, or in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, however, there is nevertheless a low-grade febrile uncertainty amid the routines of daily life in California. Especially when your house shifts and groans with the slightly movement from the earth – it’s hard not to feel a certain nauseated intimation of mortality.
The recent back-to-back temblors near Ridgecrest, California, have brought the immutable actuarial realities of our state’s seismic activity back to the forefront. The latest quakes struck about 100 miles east of the San Andreas fault, the state’s biggest seismic threat, and in their wake, the United States Geological Survey reaffirmed its forecast of a 70 percent chance of a major earthquake (7.0 or greater on the Richter magnitude scale) before 2030. That is not good news at all. Two decades ago, memories of the 6.7 magnitude Northridge earthquake of 1994, which killed at least 57 people, were fresh in the public imagination.