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Winchester notes that significant progress has been made in modern society with the understanding of plate tectonics. In this regard, Winchester suggests that lessons can be learned from the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. These lessons force a convergence in social awareness and civil engineering. Winchester details how members of civil leadership in 1906 wanted to eradicate the use of the word "Earthquake" for fear of its attachment to San Francisco. Yet, part of the reason that the 1989 Bay Area Earthquake was not as destructive and severe was because "rigorous building codes" had taken earthquakes into account. For Winchester, progress is evident in how plate tectonics must be understood as a fact of being in the world. Had the example from 1906 civil leadership been embraced, more damage would have been experienced. It is here in which modern society has made progress in coping with the risk that Winchester details.
This advancement is an element that Winchester sees as vital and needed if more progress and understanding is to be made. Winchester suggests that the San Andreas Fault is a line of constant plate tectonic activity. The tension in this area that percolates under the surface must be understood and accepted as a part of being in the world. Awareness of this reality is where more social advancement can be evident in coping with its reality: "...This means that an unimaginably enormous amount of kinetic energy is currently stored in the rocks of the Bay Area; one day, and probably very soon, this energy will all be relieved, without warning.” In offering this warning, Winchester suggests that more progress in dealing with this risk of an "enormous amount of kinetic energy" can be embraced.
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