Earthquake experts around the world say they are appalled by an Italian court’s decision to convict six scientists on manslaughter charges for failing to predict the deadly quake that devastated the city of L’Aquila. They warned the ruling could severely harm future scientific research.
The court in L’Aquila sentenced the scientists and a government official Monday to six years in prison, ruling that they didn’t accurately communicate the risk of the earthquake in 2009 that killed more than 300 people.
The trial centered on a meeting a week before the 6.3-magnitude quake struck. At the meeting, the experts determined that it was “unlikely” but not impossible that a major quake would take place, despite concern among the city’s residents over recent seismic activity.
Prosecutors said the defendants provided “inaccurate, incomplete and contradictory information about the dangers” facing L’Aquila.
The court agreed, convicting the six scientists from the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology (INGV) and a member of the Civil Protection Agency. It also ordered the Italian authorities to pay 7.8 million euros ($10 million) in damages.
*In case you missed the point, the title is supposed to illustrate the problem with holding scientists responsible for inherent uncertainties in prediction.
I will no longer predict anything*
Tue, 23 Oct 2012 11:19:43 GMT