As 2017 starts to wind down, the amount of high-profile natural disasters that have affected every part of the world this year is shocking. Communities grappled with hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, wildfires in California and Montana, massive flooding in India and many more.
Last Thursday, longtime environmental reporter Henry Fountain spoke at UNM’S Hibben Center to explain his fascination with disasters and how they radically change the future of the world.
“I’ve always been interested by disasters,” Fountain said. “I’m fascinated by the power of nature.”
Fountain has been a New York Times reporter for over two decades, where he writes mostly on science and environment-related topics.
While Fountain has found himself busy covering the various disasters that have occurred over the past few months, he has spent much of his time writing about the largest recorded earthquake in North America — the 1964 Alaskan earthquake.
The earthquake, which had a whopping magnitude of 9.2, killed 139 people, not only during the quake but also during the tsunamis that riddled the coast afterwards. It is also the second largest earthquake ever recorded, right after a 9.5 quake in Chile in 1960.
After originally writing an article coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the quake, Fountain published his book, “The Great Quake” this year, which examines how the Alaskan earthquake forever changed the scientific understanding of the planet.