Saturday, June 04, 2011

One in Four Chance...

I really do hate banging on about the earthquake, and, like many Cantabrians, now we really really do want to just get on with our lives, whether houses have fallen down or there are just a few cracks in the walls.

So, just as we were starting to get back together after September then February happened, it was actually a bit of a blow to hear recently that there is a 23% chance of a 6 to 7 happening again in the next year. Not a blow like the February earthquake was, of course. But it was information sufficient to send a little tremor through my gut, and to reignite the whole 'moving to Wellington' (where we have family and, it seems, less than a 1 in 4 chance of a big earthquake) proposition.

A few weisenheimers - either non-Cantabrians or some of those eternally perky people nobody really likes - smarmily suggested that surely a 23% chance of it happening means there's a 77% chance it won't happen. Which is true. But in context, I kinda thought that was a little unfair.

If you lived in Tauranga in 2010, and the news was announced that there was a 23% chance of a 6 to 7 earthquake there I think it would be appropriate to focus more on the 77%. But if you lived in Christchurch in 2010, when the 1 in 16000 year earthquake shook you, and then within a matter of months another 1 in 16000 year earthquake shook you (does that make it a 1 in 32000 year earthquake, or probably a much bigger number?), I don't think it's that much of a stretch to be tempted to focus on the 23%.

If someone told me there was a 23% chance - near enough to 1 in 4 - I'd be winning Lotto Powerball tonight, sure I'd consider the 77% chance I won't win. But I'd be mighty distracted by that 23%. I wouldn't be out spending it yet, or writing Jackie's resignation letter, but I might be thinking about the right wording. Or ordering the newest Nikon D3S. or X. Or whatever model they're up to.

The point is that 23% would be loooooming large, despite the odds of it actually happening.

I wonder what's happening in Japan. Are they still having aftershocks, too? I guess they are. Scientists are still suggesting our aftershocks are relatively normal for the type of earthquake/s we had. Of course, Cantabrians have redefined normal. We all live with the aftermath and reminders, daily. And as much as we might like to ignore it all, we can't. And deep down, we all know it's not going to go away. We drive through the streets, and even though we're not civil engineers, construction experts or geophysicists, we just know it's going to be many years before the city looks "normal." But we all also know deep down that our lives will never be the same. Ten years from now, when there's a little 3.6 earthquake in Lyttelton or Darfield, we'll just for a split second remember September 2010 or February 2011. That's just the way we're wired.

And at the risk of being morbid, I have thought many times that the very fabric of Canterbury has been changed. Not just the physics and geology of it, but the spirit.

I believe we are all connected. There's a cosmic bond between all of us. Some bonds are stronger than others, but it's always there. So whatever happens to a family in Bexley affects me. In a cosmic/spiritual way. Whatever I do and feel, affects that lady in Rangiora.

I would extend that to the entire planet, and even the universe, but then it tends to sound a little whacky (but no less true), but for the moment I'm more concentrated on the immediate vicinity.

To hear of the possibility, even a slight one, of another significant earthquake striking Christchurch was always going to send shivers up the spines of most Cantabrians. I'm not really dwelling on it. And the moving to Wellington thing is only an extension of an already possible move. But as unlikely as it really is/was, with the news of another possible earthquake on the horizon, the prospect took on a 4% more positive spin.

But I seriously doubt I could move up there and start supporting the Hurricanes.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Interesting blog. I am now sick of hearing about the chance of a 6 - 7 hitting, ever since it hit the papers and radio. It does have a tendency to tense you up all over again. I however prefer to think 23% chance than 1 in 4. For some reason 23% sounds better odds, than 1 in 4.