It certainly feels as if a whole lot of shaking is going on. In the past few months the news has been full of quakes, mudslides and now a massive cloud of volcanic ash spreading over Europe. So is this all part of Mother Nature's discernable displeasure?
"Mother Nature is basically random and doesn't really care about us at all," says Dr. Lucy Jones, of the United States Geological Survey. "I think that's the thing that we need to remember."
And the seeming uptick in earthquakes is more perception than reality, reports CBS News correspondent Ben Tracy. On average there are 16 earthquakes of 7 to 7.9 magnitude around the world in any given year. Four months into 2010 we have had six, which is just about average. In fact, a quake the size of the one that hit Baja, Calif., last week -- 7.2 magnitude -- erupts somewhere on the planet every month.
But instead of hitting the middle of the ocean, which they normally do, many of these quakes have struck populated areas such as Haiti, Chile and China, so we hear more about them.
We also have better quake detection. In 1931 there were about 350 seismograph stations in the world. Today there are more than 8,000. Yet some still wonder if a greater force is at work.
That's a story line Hollywood has been pushing, reminding us that 2012 is the year the Mayan calendar predicts the world will end. The movie of the same name has raked in nearly $800 million worldwide.
And now a California company is building 20 $10-million doomsday bunkers across the country. Steve Kramer bought space for his family. It cost him $125,000. Going over a computer graphic of the space, he says, "That's the blast door that leads into the shelter."
He adds, "We have life insurance. This is life assurance."
If the end of days really is near, hope may be all he has.
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