Mexico’s ’85 Earthquake Didn’t Start a Revolution

And Neither Will the 2017 Tremor—Unless Public Disillusionment Erupts

Can the shaking of earthquakes upend political power?

This question often has been answered by referencing Mexico. Political scientists often link Mexico City’s devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake on September 19, 1985, to the end of the PRI’s seven-decades-long rule of the country 15 years later. Their argument is not that the party was responsible for the loss of some 10,000 lives, but rather that the disaster exposed the incompetence and corruption of a regime that until then seemed to control everything. While the government of President Miguel de la Madrid looked …

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The Destruction in Nepal Is Sickening

As an American, Here’s What I’m Doing to Help

I was at my house not far from the center of Patan, a city right next to Kathmandu, when the shaking started. It was about noon on Saturday and my …

Sipping Espresso After the Big One

How I’ve Prepared My Family and Neighbors for the Inevitable Disaster

As a native Californian, I’ve always accepted earthquakes as part of life here. So I didn’t use to think about them too much. When the Northridge earthquake hit in 1994, …

The Northridge Earthquake Rattled My Marriage

Along with Death and Destruction, the 6.7 Temblor Also Broke Hearts

When the Northridge earthquake struck on January 17, 1994—20 years ago this week—I wasn’t physically injured.

But that doesn’t mean I wasn’t hurt. Earthquakes only last a few seconds but can …

Our Landslides Are Bigger Than Yours

What the Entire World Can Learn From California’s Penchant for Disaster—And Ability to Recover From It

When I was a graduate student at Caltech in the 1960s, my boyfriend and I loved to take a spin up the spectacular, cliff-hanging California Highway 39 that ascends in …

Did We Get Haiti Less Wrong This Time?

Six Billion Dollars Went to Haiti After Its Earthquake. Some of the Money May Even Have Helped.

On Tuesday, January 12, 2010, an earthquake, one of the deadliest in history, struck Haiti and killed over 300,000 people. In the aftermath, governments and aid organizations rushed in to …