The double-edged sword of learning from disasters.
Floods, hurricanes, and tsunamis: While the frequency of natural disasters has increased rapidly since records began, the casualty rate has sunk dramatically. Why? Rising prosperity and improved infrastructure have curtailed the risks associated with natural disasters, but can we really keep nature under control? Modern disaster prevention measures make the risks appear manageable: Dams, for example, allow us to build settlements in at-risk areas below sea level. But this apparent security can be deceptive: The most catastrophic natural disasters don’t happen in the most high-risk areas, but rather in those areas where major risks are considered to be under control, but the preventative measures in place prove to be no match for the forces of nature. Are we unintentionally making natural disasters even more dangerous with our actions? And how should policy makers react?
Thomas Plümper, Department of Socioeconomics, WU
Jesús Crespo Cuaresma, Head of the Institute for Macroeconomics , WU
Raya Muttarak, Senior Lecturer in Geography and International Development, University of East Anglia
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