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Dear Matthew Alice:

I've enclosed an ad from the San Diego Union-Tribune which provides "8 Compelling Reasons Why: Christ Is Coming Very Soon!" I'm interested in your take on Item 4, which states, "A recent study shows a dramatic increase in worldwide earthquakes, just since the decade of Israel's rebirth." They claim that in the 1940s there were 51 earthquakes above 6.0 Richter, and in the 1990s there were 1540. Nowhere else have I heard of this dramatic increase in earthquake activity. Of course, it's possible the satanic New World Order government Antichrist may be suppressing this information. So what do you say; has there been a dramatic increase in earthquake activity since the 1940s, and if so, what would you attribute this to?

-- Tom Saladino, Oceanside

Stuff like this sends Grandma Alice into a cleaning frenzy. "Well, I don't want dust on the knick-knacks and beer cans in the bookshelves if we're expecting company." It takes weeks to calm her down so we can start putting our feet on the coffee table again. And logic doesn't slow her up either. If these unnamed researchers in their "recent study" compared the numbers of reported earthquakes in 1940 and 1999, they would be thrilled to see a tenfold increase. But the U.S. Geological Survey has a pretty good explanation. There are ten times more seismographs around the world today than there were 60 years ago (4000+ versus 400). And now they place them in the most shake-prone locations and have better reporting systems. The key word here is "reported" -- quakes that have been located and measured. The USGS calculates that since 1900 we have had an average of 18 major earthquakes (7.0-7.9) and one quake of 8.0 or greater each year. There's been no significant upward trend in these figures in the last 30 years. But try telling that to Grandma Alice with a dust rag in her hand.

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