2015 Vol. 6, No. 4

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Operationalizing Iterative Risk Management under Limited Information: Fiscal and Economic Risks Due to Natural Disasters in Cambodia
Junko Mochizuki, Soravit Vitoontus, Bandula Wickramarachchi, Stefan Hochrainer-Stigler, Keith Williges, Reinhard Mechler, Ros Sovann
2015, 6(4): 321-334. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0069-y
Iterative risk management and risk-sensitive public investment planning are increasingly seen as essential elements of natural disaster resilience. This article assesses the disaster risk facing the hazard-prone Southeast Asian country of Cambodia and discusses its fiscal preparedness and need for proactive disaster risk management. The study provides a bottom-up assessment of flood and cyclone risks to public and private buildings including educational structures, health facilities, and housing and estimates the total direct economic damage to range from approximately USD 304 million for a 5-year return period event to USD 2.26 billion for a 1000-year return period event. These estimates were further analyzed using the fiscal risk due to disasters, which indicates that Cambodia will likely face a resource gap whenever a hazard as large as that of a 28-year return period event strikes. Given the frequent occurrence of disasters and rapid accumulation of capital assets taking place, proactive risk reduction is highly advisable. But interviews with national policymakers also revealed that there are a number of barriers to effective risk reduction and management in Cambodia. The general lack of awareness regarding risk-based concepts and the limited availability of local risk information necessitate a continued and sustained effort to build iterative risk management in Cambodia.
Agricultural Risk Modeling Challenges in China: Probabilistic Modeling of Rice Losses in Hunan Province
Pane Stojanovski, Weimin Dong, Ming Wang, Tao Ye, Shuangcai Li, Christian P. Mortgat
2015, 6(4): 335-346. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0071-4
This article summarizes a joint research project undertaken under the Risk Management Solutions, Inc. (RMS) banner to investigate some of the possible approaches for agricultural risk modeling in China. Two modeling approaches were investigated—the simulated weather crop index and the burn yield analysis approach. The study was limited to Hunan Province and a single crop—rice. Both modeling approaches were dealt with probabilistically and were able to produce probabilistic risk metrics. Illustrative model outputs are also presented. The article discusses the robustness of the modeling approaches and their dependence on the availability, access to, and quality of weather and yield data. We offer our perspective on the requirements for models and platforms for agricultural risk quantification in China in order to respond to the needs of all stakeholders in agricultural risk transfer.
Permafrost Thaw and Associated Settlement Hazard Onset Timing over the Qinghai-Tibet Engineering Corridor
Donglin Guo, Jianqi Sun
2015, 6(4): 347-358. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0072-3
In permafrost areas, the timing of thermal surface settlement hazard onset is of great importance for the construction and maintenance of engineering facilities. Future permafrost thaw and the associated thermal settlement hazard onset timing in the Qinghai-Tibet engineering corridor (QTEC) were analyzed using high-resolution soil temperature data from the Community Land Model version 4 in combination with multiple model and scenario soil temperature data from the fifth phase of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP5). Compared to the standard frozen ground map for the Tibetan Plateau and ERA-Interim data, a multimodel ensemble reproduces the extent of permafrost and soil temperature change in the QTEC at a 1 m depth from 1986–2005. Soil temperature and active layer thickness increase markedly during 2006–2099 using CMIP5 scenarios. By 2099, the ensemble mean soil temperature at 15 m depth will increase between 1.0 and 3.6 °C in the QTEC. Using crushed-rock revetments can delay the onset of thermal settlement hazard for colder permafrost areas by approximately 17 years in the worst case scenario of RCP8.5. Nearly one-third of the area of the QTEC exhibits settlement hazard as early as 2050, and half of this one-third of the area is traversed by the Qinghai-Tibet highway/railway, a situation that requires more planning and remedial attention. Simulated onsets of thermal settlement hazard correspond well to the observed soil temperature at 15 m depth for seven grid areas in the QETC, which to some extent indicates that these timing estimates are reasonable. This study suggests that climate model-based timing estimation of thermal settlement hazard onset is a valuable method, and that the results are worthy of consideration in engineering design and evaluation.
The Space Infrastructure Vulnerability Cadastre: Orbital Debris Critical Loads
Adrian V. Gheorghe, Daniel E. Yuchnovicz
2015, 6(4): 359-371. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0073-2
Orbital debris from over 50 years of human activity in space are threatening the operations of existing and future satellites and the sustainability of high-value satellite orbits. This technical memorandum calls for the development of a cadastre that depicts the vulnerability of critical satellite orbits to accumulating orbital debris. A space infrastructure vulnerability cadastre could serve as a governance tool for use by developers and operators of critical space infrastructures to better communicate the current and future vulnerability of high-value orbits to the accumulation of orbital debris. These high-value orbits are susceptible to “loss” for decades or centuries if generation of orbital debris continues unabated. The concept of environmental critical loads is applied to heavily used orbits as a way to indicate acceptable debris density for satellite operations, and when debris density / risk thresholds approach unacceptable levels that reduce the probability of sustaining spacecraft operations in those orbits.
A Conceptual Governance Framework for Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Integration
Giuseppe Forino, Jason von Meding, Graham J. Brewer
2015, 6(4): 372-384. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0076-z
Climate change adaptation (CCA) and disaster risk reduction (DRR) have similar targets and goals in relation to climate change and related risks. The integration of CCA in core DRR operations is crucial to provide simultaneous benefits for social systems coping with challenges posed by climate extremes and climate change. Although state actors are generally responsible for governing a public issue such as CCA and DRR integration, the reform of top-down governing modes in neoliberal societies has enlarged the range of potential actors to include non state actors from economic and social communities. These new intervening actors require in-depth investigation. To achieve this goal, the article investigates the set of actors and their bridging arrangements that create and shape governance in CCA and DRR integration. The article conducts a comprehensive literature review in order to retrieve main actors and arrangements. The article summarizes actors and arrangements into a conceptual governance framework that can be used as a backdrop for future research on the topic. However, this framework has an explorative form, which must be refined according to site- and context-specific variables, norms, or networks. Accordingly, this article promotes an initial application of the framework to different contexts. Scholars may adopt the framework as a roadmap with which to corroborate the existence of a theoretical and empirical body of knowledge on governance of CCA and DRR integration.
Public Perceptions and Support of Renewable Energy in North America in the Context of Global Climate Change
Bjoern Hagen, David Pijawka
2015, 6(4): 385-398. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0068-z
There is substantial interest in developing a coherent and effective North American renewable energy policy as a way to secure energy but also to mitigate global climate change. Based on surveys of the public in Canada, Mexico, and the United States, the article shows the levels of concern over climate change threats, perceived risk, knowledge of climate change policies, levels of uncertainty, and other perception factors to help understand the relationships between public perceptions and policy preferences for renewable energy. Results show national differences between the three countries in nearly all climate change perceptions, with Mexico reflecting the highest levels of concern and the United States the lowest. Mexico also shows the greatest support for renewable energy sources. However, the results show very high levels of uncertainty about climate change dimensions concerning risk, science, and knowledge and the effectiveness of policy approaches. The data demonstrate strong statistical correlations between risk perception factors and preferences for mitigation policies in the form of renewable energy policies.
A Longitudinal Study of Human Exposure to Potential Nuclear Power Plant Risk
Dean Kyne, Jason T. Harris
2015, 6(4): 399-414. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0075-0
This study constructs a potential risk index (PRI) for the 65 U.S.-based commercial nuclear power plant (NPP) sites in relation to their surrounding populations. Four risk levels are defined: low risk, moderate risk, high risk, and very high risk. Discrepancies that exist in the sociodemographic characteristics of the host communities’ populations are examined as sorted by risk-level category. It is found that a greater percentage of minority groups are exposed to the highest levels of risk. In addition, percent “Hispanic” and percent “Other,” a grouping that includes multiracial, mixed, interracial, as well as Hispanic and Latino groups (for example, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, or Spanish) are categories that show the greatest percent change in both the period 1990–2000 and 2000–2010.
Earthquake Disaster Risk Reduction in Iran: Lessons and “Lessons Learned” from Three Large Earthquake Disasters—Tabas 1978, Rudbar 1990, and Bam 2003
Michaela Ibrion, Mohammad Mokhtari, Farrokh Nadim
2015, 6(4): 415-427. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0074-1
This article addresses three large earthquake disasters in Iran: Tabas in 1978, Rudbar in 1990, and Bam in 2003. Lessons and “Lessons Learned” from these three earthquake disasters were investigated together with their contributions over time towards earthquake disaster risk reduction in Iran. Many lessons from 1978 Tabas, 1990 Rudbar, and 2003 Bam did not become “Lessons Learned” and they were identified again within the dramatic context of other earthquake disasters in various places of Iran. Both lessons and “Lessons Learned” from Tabas, Rudbar, Bam, and other earthquake disasters in Iran require a sustainable long-term framework—an earthquake culture.
Continuity Culture: A Key Factor for Building Resilience and Sound Recovery Capabilities
Ihab Hanna S. Sawalha, John R. Anchor, Julia Meaton
2015, 6(4): 428-437. doi: 10.1007/s13753-015-0070-5
This article investigates the extent to which Jordanian service organizations seek to establish continuity culture through testing, training, and updating of their business continuity plans. A survey strategy was adopted in this research. Primary and secondary data were used. Semistructured interviews were conducted with five senior managers from five large Jordanian service organizations registered with the Amman Stock Exchange. The selection of organizations was made on the basis of simple random sampling. Interviews targeted the headquarters only in order to obtain a homogenous sample. Three out of five organizations could be regarded as crisis prepared and have better chances for recovery. The other two organizations exhibited characteristics of standard practice that only emphasizes the recovery aspect of business continuity management (BCM), while paying less attention to establishing resilient cultures and embedding BCM. The findings reveal that the ability to recover following major incidents can be improved by embedding BCM in the culture of the organization and by making BCM an enterprise-wide process. This is one of few meticulous studies that have been undertaken in the Middle East and the first in Jordan to investigate the extent to which service organizations focus on embedding BCM in the organizational culture.