How important is Chile in the global supply chain?
30% of world copper production, and the earthquake struck right next to one of the more important copper mines. But more important than that is the fact that we live in a planet with several hazards for living safely, and technology has to play a major role here. In Chile, we have greatly improved the building standards over the past century, to the point where the damages are negligible compared to a similar earthquake elsewhere. That's a very big triumph of technology applied to societal welfare.
In a way, we have an advantage, the earthquakes keep us prepared. But there are areas where they occur every 500 years (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1700_Cascadia_earthquake) and they may cause a huge catastrophe there.
As we have witnessed in several parts around the world (remember Katrina?) besides prevention and warnings, the logistics of the aftermath are very challenging as well. How can we improve this? How to help isolated people self-organize in order to improve their conditions until outside aid arrives? For example, could we include a microgrid-style strategy everywhere that interacts seamlessly with the "traditional" grid? Another thing is how to keep the communication lines open and the information flow as lean as possible, in order to help the authorities make better decisions on the spot.
Therefore, Chile may present a unique opportunity to develop and test different prevention and emergency response strategies. And this may be one of the more important things we can do for humanity in our role as responsible engineers.
Cheers from Santiago, Chile
This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.