Around the world in eighty disasters - inaugural lecture

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  • 1. Around the World in 80 Disasters Global Trends Local Challenges David Alexander
  • 2. When and where did I start?
  • 3. I was a seven-stone weakling and a UCL PhD student!
  • 4. Sunday 23rd November 1980 19:34.52.8
  • 5. Disaster Risk Reduction
  • 6. Recovery and reconstruction Mitigation and resilience Preparation and mobilisation Emergency intervention Quiescence Crisis The disaster cycle
  • 7. Recovery and reconstruction Mitigation and resilience Preparation and mobilisation Emergency intervention Crisis Emergency planning and organisation of security systems Warning and preparation; damage limitation measures activated Emergency operations and damage limitation Recovery and restoration Safety manage- ment of emergency operations Quiescence
  • 8. "Theory is our roadmap" Prof. Thomas E. Drabek University of Denver
  • 9. Rev. Dr Samuel Henry Prince 1885-1960 Nuova Scotia, Columbia University Professor Harlan H. Barrows 1877-1960 Michigan, Chicago University
  • 10. 1920 1923
  • 11. Can we define disaster? 1998 2005
  • 12. With what theoretical basis has 93 years of academic study of disasters endowed us?
  • 13. HUMAN CONSEQUENCES OF DISASTER “ORTHODOX” MODEL PHYSICAL EVENT HUMAN VULNERABILITY “RADICAL CRITIQUE” (K. HEWITT et al.) HUMAN CONSEQUENCES OF DISASTER HUMAN VULNERABILITY PHYSICAL EVENT PROPOSAL FOR A NEW MODEL HUMAN CONSEQUENCES OF DISASTER. HUMAN VULNERABILITY CULTURE HISTORY PHYSICAL EVENTS CONTEXT & CONSEQUENCES
  • 14. Since the 1979-83 "vulnerability revolution", have we seen the triumph of the "orthodox" approach?
  • 15. 0 50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450 500 Papers published in Natural Hazards and NHESS Natural Hazards Natural Hazard and Earth System Sciences Papers published in Natural Hazards and NHESS, 1988-2013 1990s: Average 45 2013: Total 800 ― Natural Hazards ― Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences 1988 2013 450
  • 16. Founded in 2012 to promote genuinely interdisciplinary work. It is one of 67 dedicated DRR journals and more than 500 that publish papers in this field.
  • 17. • from two or three journals in 1970s to 70 dedicated journals in 2013, + c. 500 that publish DRR papers • the disaster "gold rush" mentality • the rediscovery of the [well-] known by inexperienced researchers • failure to produce new theory. On the productivity of disaster science • the rise of misleading bibliometry
  • 18. [1993] [1990]
  • 19. Some links Effects of technology on vulnerability to natural disasters Effects of natural disasters on technological capital Social conditions as factors that incubate dissidence Technological component ofactsof terrorism Intentional disasters Technological disasters Social disasters Natural disasters
  • 20. Gertrude Stein, 1913 [adapted] A disaster is a disaster is a disaster... Its "disastrousness" is not defined by its causal agent.
  • 21. ResilienceResistance Risk Susceptibility Physical (including natural, built, technological) Social (including cultural, political, economic Environment Attributes Source: McEntire 2001 LiabilitiesCapabilities VULNERABILITY
  • 22. American Civil Liberties Union report on the treatment of prisoners during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
  • 23. Squatter settlement in Bangladesh Flood level Normal river level Rather than mitigating the sources of vulnerability to disaster, globalisation is maintaining, exporting and reinforcing them by its divide-and-rule strategies.
  • 24. Vulnerability Total: life is generally precarious Economic: people lack adequate occupation Technological/technocratic: due to the riskiness of technology Delinquent: caused by corruption, negligence, etc. Residual: caused by lack of modernisation Newly generated: caused by changes in circumstances
  • 25. Have disasters been getting worse?
  • 26. • population increases in hazard zones • society is more complex and polarised • new sources of vulnerability • cascading and complex impacts • failure adequately to mitigate risk. Have disasters been getting worse?
  • 27. Cascading effects Collateral vulnerability Secondary disasters Interaction between risks Climate change Probability Indeterminacy "Fat-tailed" (skewed) distributions of impacts
  • 28. Falling hazard probability Rising vulnerability Optimum mitigation level?? 'Fat-tailed' (negatively skewed) distribution Magnitude
  • 29. • the relative view: there are plenty of other sources of risk • increased information flows make things seem worse • more agencies are at work on disasters • disasters are getting more political. Have disasters been getting worse?
  • 30. Have we made any serious progress at all in DRR since 1983?
  • 31. DETERMINISM Cause Effect PROBABILITY (constrained uncertainty) Cause Single, multiple or cascading effects THE KNOWN THE UNKNOWN PURE UNCERTAINTY Causal relationship unknown Grey area
  • 32. Organisational systems: management Social systems: behaviour Natural systems: function Technical systems: malfunction VulnerabilityHazard Resilience Political systems: decisions
  • 33. • the main emphasis is still on reacting to disasters, not reducing disaster risk • there has been an enormous rise in hazards studies, but much less effort has gone on studying vulnerability • the social and perceptual components of disaster remain undervalued • the role of theory is underestimated. Progress in disaster risk reduction?
  • 34. In disasters and disaster risk, how important is gender?
  • 35. Kobe 1995 earthquake deaths by gender and age ― males ― females
  • 36. Victimisation of women and girls in and after disaster is common throughout the world, but in many cases the reasons are poorly understood.
  • 37. One in six deaths was an old lady whose death was not predicted by demographics
  • 38. • an excess of deaths among women • very high post-traumatic stress levels • victimisation in survivors' families • failure to consider female perspective • decision making largely by men. Women and the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake
  • 39. • "forgiveness money" • vote buying • political control through funding decisions • corruption and theft of funds • profiteering and deliberate distortion of markets. Welfare and...
  • 40. What is resilience?
  • 41. The "cradle" of resilience: Canonbury Tower London N1. Built in 1509 to survive the Universal Deluge: inhabited in 1625 by Francis Bacon.
  • 42. Francis Bacon Sylva Sylvarum, 1625 [Are we to criticise him for using the "greengrocer's apostrophe"?]
  • 43. LAW STATESMANSHIP LITERATURE SCIENTIFIC METHOD MECHANICS MANU- FACTURING ECOLOGY MANAGEMENT (ADAPTIVE) CHILD PSYCHOLOGY ANTHROPOLOGY SOCIAL RESEARCH DISASTER RISK REDUCTION SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION c. BC 50 AD 1529 1625 1859 1930 1950 1973 2000 2010 NATURAL HISTORY
  • 44. • an objective, a process or a strategy? • a paradigm, diverse paradigms? • 'bounce-back' or 'bounce-forward'? • focuses on the community scale? • can reconcile dynamic & static elements? Resilience
  • 45. RESILIENCE Social Technical Physical Psychological CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION DISASTER RISK REDUCTION OTHER HAZARDS AND RISKS natural social technological intentional compound cascading SUSTAINABILITY SCIENCE
  • 46. RISKS daily: unemployment, poverty, disease, etc. major disaster: floods, storms, quakes, etc. emerging risks: pandemics, climate change SUSTAINABILITY disaster risk reduction resource consumption stewardship of the environment economic activities lifestyles and communities SUSTAINABILITY
  • 47. RESILIENCE: as a material has brittle strength and ductility: so must society have an optimum combination of resistance to hazard impacts and ability to adapt to them.
  • 48. physical environmental social economic health-related cultural educational infrastructural institutional RESILIENCE COPING VULNERABILITY FRAGILITY SUSCEPTIBILITY Organisation: • public admin. • private sector • civil society Community Individual Resilience: facets... ...and relationships
  • 49. Causes of disaster natural geophysical, technological, social History single and cumulative impact of past disasters Human cultures constraints and opportunities IMPACTS Adaptation to risk RESILIENCE
  • 50. Long term Short term Emic components Etic components METAMORPHOSIS OF CULTURE Experiences of culture [mass-media and consumer culture] Accumulated cultural traits and beliefs Inherited cultural background Ideological (non-scientific) interpretations of disaster Learned (scientific) interpretations of disaster
  • 51. Conclusion: on the shoulders of giants
  • 52. Tony Oliver-SmithKai Erikson
  • 53. • as Kai Erikson noted, disaster shifts our position on fundamental dimensions • we live in the New Baroque Age • characterised by tension of opposites • massive cultural dynamism is redefining the symbolism of disaster • to understand disaster, we need to be interdisciplinary with boldness and ingenuity.
  • 54. There is no doubt that "we live in interesting times".
  • 55. Chrestomathia
  • 56. david.alexander@ucl.ac.uk www.slideshare.net/dealexander emergency-planning.blogspot.com Ishinomaki, Japan