Environmental Risks and Disasters
Lecture Notes 1 (1/22/2008)
Introduction. Risks in many different forms.
The environment can be a dangerous place. Natural disasters, such as tornados,
hurricanes, earthquakes, landslides and others, each year claim tens of thousands
of lives and cause many billion dollars worth of damage. Millions of lives are
directly impacted through loss or damage to homes, and many more are
inconvenienced -- if sometimes only by having to pay for the damage through
taxes or insurance premiums.
Natural disasters are caused by natural agents, or natural phenomena. For
example, hurricane Katrina was a very large and powerful tropical cyclone.
Already we can attempt to make a distinction between the effect on us, meaning
on people, and the phenomenon, the storm. A disaster can result from a storm, but
usually this requires that somebody gets hurt, or that somebody loses a lot of
money. That is, it is hard to talk about a natural disaster, unless there is a
Natural phenomena, such as hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes,
landslides, tornados, and so on, have the potential to cause harm, and are therefore
threats to our well-being. The goal in this course is to develop the tools to analyze
this threat in some detail, in order to come to a better understanding of the risks