2013 Vol. 4, No. 1

Display Method:
Thoughts on Dealing with Climate Change…As if the Future Matters
Michael H. Glantz, Ilan Kelman
2013, 4(1): 1-8. doi: 10.1007/s13753-013-0002-1
This article uses the need for more inspiration in people to act on climate change as a basis for exploring some thoughts on the societal and environmental challenges of climate change. It aims to provide ways of interpreting what is often presented on climate change without considering how the audience receives that information and might or might not be inspired to take action based on it. Different meanings of “change” are examined in the context of “climate change.” The term “adaptation” is similarly analyzed. Based on the understanding of those terms, four notions are defined and outlined in relation to decision-making for climate change adaptation: Ignorance versus “Ignore-ance,” surprise, foreseeability, and forecasting by analogy. The conclusions explore the interlinkages between society and the environment as well as how to turn lessons identified into lessons that are actually learned in order to be implemented. Achieving inspiration is not straightforward, but without it, the future will be bleak under a changing society and environment.
Volcanic Ash in the Atmosphere and Risks for Civil Aviation: A Study in European Crisis Management
David Alexander
2013, 4(1): 9-19. doi: 10.1007/s13753-013-0003-0
This paper uses the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in April and May 2010 as a case study of disruption to civil aviation by airborne ash, with emphasis on risk management aspects. Severe curtailment of flights over much of Europe took place during the crisis, which lasted for slightly more than one week. More than 8.5 million passengers were stranded and commerce was profoundly affected. The United Kingdom was one of the worst impacted countries and took the lead in managing the crisis. The paper considers elements of the decision-making process that formed the basis of the UK Government's emergency response. It examines the relations between science, governance, and economic imperatives. Physical thresholds guiding decisions to restrict airspace were defined somewhat arbitrarily, which may have increased disruption. A damaging form of risk aversion prevailed at certain points in the crisis. Lack of preexisting procedures and planning meant that the response to dynamically changing meteorological conditions had to be improvised. At the same time, lack of integration between different modes in the European transportation system meant that had the crisis continued any longer there would have been severe problems in moving stranded people and commodities, as well as soaring economic losses. Eruptions similar to or more serious than that of Eyjafjallajökull are perfectly possible in Europe in the not-too-distant future.
A Reduced-Form Rapid Economic Consequence Estimating Model: Application to Property Damage from U.S. Earthquakes
Nathaniel Heatwole, Adam Rose
2013, 4(1): 20-32. doi: 10.1007/s13753-013-0004-z
Modeling the economic consequences of disasters has reached a high level of maturity and accuracy in recent years. Methods for providing reasonably accurate rapid estimates of economic losses, however, are still limited. This article presents the case for “reduced-form” models for rapid economic consequence estimation for disasters, and specifies and statistically estimates a regression equation for property damage from significant U.S. earthquakes. Explanatory variables are of two categories: (1) hazard-related variables pertaining to earthquake characteristics; and (2) exposure-related variables pertaining to socioeconomic conditions. Comparisons to other available earthquake damage estimates indicate that our Reduced-Form Model yields reasonably good results, including several statistically significant variables that are consistent with a priori hypotheses. The article concludes with a discussion of how the research can be enhanced through the collection of data on additional variables, and of the potential for the extension of the reduced-form modeling approach to other hazard types.
Community Disaster Management Assets: A Case Study of the Farm Community in Sussex County, Delaware
Yvonne Rademacher
2013, 4(1): 33-47. doi: 10.1007/s13753-013-0005-y
While government mandates and programs continue to expand to meet the increasing challenges of disaster management, there is growing recognition that government cannot do it all alone. This has led to a quest to better understand local capacities, through partnerships with the private sector and volunteer organizations but also in relation to individual citizens. The Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) recent Whole Community initiative constitutes a policy shift towards more local engagement and responsibility. However, before devising strategies to better engage and support various actors, the nature of their disaster management resources needs to be more clearly understood. What disaster management resources do communities supply? This case study examined the assets of one community group, the farm community in Sussex County, Delaware. The conceptual framework was based on a community asset approach, which currently recognizes eight types of community capital and is comprised of active, inactive, positive, and negative resources. The study found a striking discrepancy between actually used and perceived community resources. Farm community resources were primarily used for implementation activities during disaster preparedness. The types of resources used fell into three broad categories: equipment/ supplies; experience/lessons learned; and access to other community and professional networks. The findings highlighted the use of four community capitals—human, social, physical, financial—and the existence of active, inactive, negative, and positive resources. Tools currently employed to register community resources, such as the National Incident Management System (NIMS) resource inventory management for rural communities, are designed for professional emergency services but do not recognize the full range of potentially relevant community assets.
Recent Progress
Progress and Challenges in Global Disaster Reduction
2013, 4(1): 48-50. doi: 10.1007/s13753-013-0001-2