THE VIOLENT FACE OF NATURE: Severe Phenomena and Natural Disasters by Kendrick Frazier

THE VIOLENT FACE OF NATURE: Severe Phenomena and Natural Disasters

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Science writer Frazier has a healthy respect for the literally awesome forces of nature. He reminds us that the power of storms can exceed measly atomic bombs. Tornadoes, the treacherous spinoff of storms, can wreak wholesale havoc as they did over one 24-hour period on April 3 and 4, 1974, when no fewer than 148 twisters fumed and funneled across 13 states. In separate chapters he discourses on these and on lightning, hail, floods, hurricanes, volcanoes, and earthquakes. In each case he discusses incidence and prevalence, what is known about origins, how we stand today in powers of prediction (better) and prevention (nil). (Pictures and diagrams would help to guide the reader dizzied by vortices of cyclonic and anticyclonic winds.) There has been real progress in instrumentation, Frazier makes clear; sensors like Doppler radar make it possible to track the force and direction of winds in hurricanes or tornadoes, and chart the results. While he deplores the loss of life and property (as well as the human proclivity to populate and re-populate disturbance-prone regions), Frazier points out that these natural outbursts are part and parcel of earth history. Elementarily, storms bring rain; floods irrigate the flood plain; volcanoes shape the earth; snows lay down an insulating blanket and reservoir. All the same, there is a disquieting sense of tragedy in the documentation, with perhaps overmuch emphasis on recording the exact numbers of lives swept away or the millions of dollars in property loss. The hope is that, accepting the evidence of nature, better means of alerting the populace and improved rescue procedures may mitigate the human tragedy. Toward that end Frazier contributes some fact-versus-fancy emergency information which should be of value to all readers. Nothing much new or eye-opening here, but a solid overview.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow