Why Californians Secretly Love Earthquakes

While Destructive, Tremblers Have Been a Force for Progress and They Give Our Lives Meaning

Of all the lies Californians tell ourselves, one of the biggest is that we hate earthquakes.

The unspoken truth is that we love earthquakes, as well we should.

Don’t give the beaches and the warm weather all the credit. Earthquakes are the other natural phenomena that have made California great. And that’s not merely because the force of so many long-ago temblors sculpted our glorious mountains and valleys.

In this state, earthquakes play as many different roles as our finest Hollywood actors do. Quakes inspire us to dream while grounding us in …

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, …

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 …