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China to Rebuild Devastated City Somewhere Else

Following the recent earthquake, China plans to rebuild one of its worst-hit cities, Beichuan, in a completely different location. Of the city's 161,000 residents, at least 7,227 died in the quake. The region's Communist Party Chief said:

Safety is the top priority in selecting a new location and reconstruction. We plan to build a monument and a memorial to commemorate the quake victims on the previous location.

The questions of when and where to rebuild devastated areas often comes up after a natural disaster. Following the wildfires in Southern California last Fall, actress Jamie Lee Curtis summed up one line of thought:

We live in a drought, we build houses too close, and then we're shocked when this happens? This is not an act of God. This is an act of man.

After Hurricane Katrina hit low-lying New Orleans, some critics spoke out against the idea of rebuilding the city, which could eventually be hit by a similar hurricane. They argued that New Orleans, built like a bowl and located bellow sea level, is geographically susceptible to similar flooding in the future.

Are humans foolish to build cities in places that are prone to natural disasters? Would China's plan to choose a new location work for a place like New Orleans? How should we mitigate risks of destruction and death, when every place is susceptible to some form of random devastation? How risky is too risky?


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