natural disasters


Shake, Rattle, and Rainout: Federal Support for Disaster Research

Joyce Levine, PhD, AICP, , UCS

Hurricanes, wildfires, and earthquakes are simply natural events—until humans get in their way. The resulting disasters are particularly devastating in urban areas, due to high concentrations of people and property. Losses from disasters have risen steadily over the past five decades, thanks to increased populations and urban development in high-hazard areas, particularly the coasts. There is also significant evidence that climate change is making weather-related events more frequent and more severe as well. As a result, it is more critical than ever that natural hazards research is being incorporated into emergency planning decisions. Read more >

Graphic: NOAA
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Human Nature and Creeping Environmental Threats

Kenny Broad, Professor, Marine Affairs and Policy
, , UCS

To state the obvious, rare events don’t occur frequently. While this is good in the case of large-scale natural hazards, it may increase our vulnerability in the long run. But why do uncommon events increase our likelihood of taking unnecessary risks, and how do we overcome our own cognitive predispositions? Read more >

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Sandy’s Punch Proves Truth Will Out

, sr. Washington rep., Center for Science & Democracy

Sometimes it’s really difficult to accept that we’re still evolving. In the far distant past, our ancient ancestors could look about them and observe the planets and the stars and the tides. They would experience flood and drought and watch for signs of impending disasters. They might believe that the disasters were caused by angry gods, and their strategies for avoiding calamity may have been limited by their belief systems. Nevertheless, they were guided at least, in part, by what their eyes and senses told them, and relied on their powers of observation to predict what would happen. Read more >

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