Italian court ruling re seismologists sends chill through science community- updated
Scientists reacted with alarm to the manslaughter conviction of six earthquake experts in Italy for failing to give adequate warning of the 2009 earthquake in the city of L’Aquila that killed 308 people.
Scientists warned that researchers in areas involving unpredictable natural threats, like volcanology and even meteorology, will now be more reluctant to offer advice and insight to the public.
“If it stands, this verdict will have a chilling effect on earthquake science in Italy and throughout Europe,” said Sandy Steacy, professor of earthquake physics at the University of Ulster.
“Who would now be willing to serve on an earthquake hazard evaluation panel when getting it wrong could mean a conviction for manslaughter?”
Four Italian Disaster Experts Resign in Protest; Washington Post, October 23.
From the NZ press, an interesting comment on the outcome, which scientists there found appalling:
“Just imagine the war from scientists saying ‘no thank you, we’re not available, we will just not be doing our job any more, which is to learn and disseminate knowledge, because the consequences of that are going to be legal consequences for us and our family’, it just doesn’t make any sense.”
He described the scientists as internationally renowned. “To face this sort of attack, which is hardly technical, is offensive and has already destroyed their reputation, professional and private….”
October 24: some additional analysis and commentary, from the Washington Post.
Another interesting commentary, Oct. 24, in Forbes Magazine, on what the government could have done better, rather than just blame the scientists.
- Italian Court Charges Scientists for Manslaughter Over 2009 L’Aquila Earthquake (medicaldaily.com)
- Italy convicts 7 scientists of manslaughter for failing to predict killer earthquake (mercurynews.com)
- Italian court ruling sends chill through science community (12160.info)
- Scientists aghast after colleagues charged with manslaughter over Italy quake – CNN (edition.cnn.com)
- 15. Italian court ruling sends chill through science community (12160.info)
- Quake experts convicted (nzherald.co.nz)
- Seismologists Convicted of Manslaughter for Failing to Predict Earthquake (pbs.org)
- ‘We won’t advise the state again’: Scientists outraged at Italian seismologists’ jailing (rt.com)
- Seismologists guilty in Italy: More on the L’Aquila verdict, and what it means for the future of science (boingboing.net)
- Italian Scientists Resign to Protest Earthquake Ruling (blogs.voanews.com)