June 18-21, 2006
One of the most important topics in hazard and disaster related research is the effective reduction of vulnerability. Despite the fact that our knowledge about several physical and human dimensions of disasters has grown rapidly in recent decades, there is ample evidence that casualties and damages due to natural disasters have grown even faster. Apparently, there is no such formula like ‘more data = better knowledge = less casualties and damages’.
Purpose of this paper is the identification of some potential reasons for this obvious dilemma. After briefly addressing selected social science concepts of hazards, disasters, and risks, it is argued that good research leads to – scientifically – good models and predictions, but not necessarily to ‘good’ decision-making meant to reduce vulnerability to hazards. Both physical and human factors need to be brought together. Furthermore, research should focus on those most vulnerable to hazards and disasters as real target beneficiaries.
The identification of practical ways to enable decision makers to make more sense of information will belong to the fundamental challenges of future hazard research.
Carsten Felgentreff, "Disasters and Decision Processes" in "Geohazards", Professor Farrokh Nadim, International Centre for Geohazards, Oslo, Norway; Dr. Rudolf Pöttler, Managing Director, ILF - Consulting Engineers, Innsbruck, Austria; Professor Herbert Einstein, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA; Professor Herbert Klapperich, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Institut für Geotechnik, Freiberg, Germany; Professor Steven Kramer, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA Eds, ECI Symposium Series, (2006). http://dc.engconfintl.org/geohazards/33