Picks and Pans Review: Living with Disaster

PBS (Wed., June 7, 8 P.M. ET)


How people coexist with nature’s fury—in the form of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes and volcanoes—is the focus of this hour-long Infinite Voyage broadcast, which plays like a travelogue written in Stephen King horror style. Such experts as geologist Dr. Stephen Leather-man, a coastal erosion specialist, comment on some of the world’s most precarious places to live. Included are Ocean City, Md., where high-rise condos have been built on a shifting sandbar in an area commonly hit by hurricanes; Colombia, where a volcano called Nevado del Ruiz triggered a tidal wave of mud that killed 22,000 people in 1985; and Parkfield, Calif., (pop. 34), where scientists are wondering why a strong earthquake hits the town every 22 years. The strangest trip of all is to the Japanese island of Sakurajima, where a volcano has erupted more than 5,000 times since 1955. The island’s 9,000 residents seem unfazed by the continual cloud of soot that surrounds them. Anyone thinking of checking out these phenomena in person should pay attention to the segment on micro-bursts, those surprise downdrafts of air that can cause commercial airplanes to crash.

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