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Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Invitation to Colleagues in Disaster Prevention Education



Dear Colleagues:

Because you have evidence interest in Doug Copp's education crusade before, and because he is alive and made credible by the UN and Time Magazine, among others - this is a one-time e-mail to see if you can help us to part of the solution.

Please read this WHOLE article from a professional journalist at
to see where we are at present.

Alas, Copp and the mass media have succeeded in making the issue: "Drop, Cover Hold" vs. "Triangle of Life". The issue MUST be re-formulated in terms of developing the evidence-basis for what to do to prevent earthquake deaths and injures. I am appealing to you to be part of a small group willing to take this on.

Our 10-year strategy of ignoring Doug Copp and hoping he would disappear has failed.
We have under-estimated:
1. the power of viral e-mail, his web-site and persona to broadcast his message, and his ability to turn appealing fragments into a credible story.
2. the hunger for simple solutions to earthquake safety that begin when the shaking starts

We would like to propose the following actions.
#1. We will begin a draft of a Joint Statement to take on the issue of "What to Do When the Shaking Starts".
The focus will be that a) what scientific research to date shows b) the need for further scientific research on the causes of deaths and injuries c) the errors and dangers in Copp's worst advice d) that solutions lie in what to do before the shaking starts. The focus will consider differences in construction type, but it will be international in scope. I would like this to be a group formulation signed by yourselves and other leading, credible and legitimate authorities. IF anyone is on Google Wave and can contribute through that tool, please let us know. Otherwise we may use Google Docs to collaborate.

#2. We would like to field a proposal to design and facilitate field data collection and analysis and reporting of results on
a) the causes of deaths and injuries in the Haiti, Bhuj and Kashmir earthquakes (in comparison to existing literature from California, Turkey, Japan and Italy).
b) investigate Copp's claims and 'evidence'.
c) report this in such a way as to be useful to humanitarian aid agencies, governments, RC/RC societies
d) report this to inform disaster reduction education efforts to protect people from structural and non-structural causes of earthquake deaths and injuries
e) produce at least one short video to disseminate and illustrate the findings.
f) hold a public panel to present the findings in an authoritative manner.
The order of the proposal will be $250,000 and require some in-kind support in Bhuj and Kashmir, and research collaborators in the field in all 3 places.

Please note that the research on the causes of deaths and injuries in the 1999 Kocaeli earthquake funded by AFSC and ARC in Turkey, and the dissemination efforts funded by USAID made an enormous difference in our ability to get legitimate credible public education advice on disaster risk reduction disseminated and acted upon there. Petal's dissertation research 'Evidence-based Public Education for Disaster Prevention' (2009) is available from VDM. Please also take note of: 'Human Casualties in Natural Disasters: Progress in Modelling and Mitigation' (forthcoming) Spence, R.J.S, So. E and Scawthorn, C.. Springer.

IF YOU ARE PREPARED TO ASSIST IN ANY WAY including in modifying and adding to this strategy, please respond to this by e-mail to the address below.
If you are unable to, we will not bother you further - until there is any more to say.


Marla Petal, Ph.D. & Ilan Kelman, Ph.D.
Co-Directors, Risk RED

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