Robert Muir-Wood

Robert Muir-Wood

The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters

Festival of Ideas/
Fri 03 March 2017

Robert Muir-Wood

The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters

Robert Muir-Wood
Fri 03 March 2017,

Year after year, floods wreck people’s home and livelihoods, earthquakes tear communities apart and tropical cyclones pulverise port cities. Yet our so called ‘natural disasters’ are in fact human ones: we build in the wrong places and in the wrong way, putting brick buildings in earthquake country, timber ones in fire zones and allow unfettered development in flood plains. We then blindly trust our flood walls and disaster preparations and when they fail, catastrophes become even more deadly. No society is immune to the twin perils of complacency and heedless development.

Robert Muir-Wood argues that recognising how disasters are manufactured also gives us the power to act. From the Great 1755 Lisbon earthquake to Hurricane Katrina, he details the ingenious ways people have fought back against disasters, alongside the power and promise of new predictive technologies, including catastrophe risk modelling, which is now moving beyond its original application in the insurance sector, to be used by governments and cities in how they identify their risks and measure progress in risk reduction.

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