The Big One is going to happen, no matter how much you want to deny it, California scientists say

For one, she and a team of researchers published a scientifically plausible scenario of a magnitude 7.8 earthquake on the San Andreas fault that could cause many deaths and the collapse of numerous buildings.

Also, Jones said she learned to tell property owners they would have to pay for how their building fares in an earthquake — either as a retrofit or by picking up the pieces after the building collapses.

“By emphasizing the financial aspects, I moved people away from fear that can paralyze decision-making,” Jones said. “I showed them that they were going to have to pay for the earthquake, one way or another. Either now or after it happens. It was just a matter of when.”

Plus, there was a community responsibility — the collapse of one building would affect their next-door neighbor, as well as the entire community. “Someone’s decision not to be ready increases the chances that others will suffer,” Jones said.