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Common Core Humanities 9004

Catastrophes, Cultures & the Angry Earth


Change the Way You See a Natural Disaster

Learn How We Can Respond to Future Calamities

Gain Knowledge and Skills to Rebuild Our World


Semester 2, 2014

Coordinator: Professor J. Charles Schencking


Email: schencking@hku.hk

Objectives of Lecture
Key definitions
Exploration of: Disaster, Hazard,
Vulnerability, Risk
Why we should study disasters

Definitions
I know it when I see
it. 1964

Justice Potter Stewart

Tokyo Disaster: Earthquake


or Human Habitation?

New Orleans Disaster: Cyclone or


Human Habitation?

Natural Disaster: Working


Definition
A natural disaster is a disruptive event
resulting from the interactions between
a natural phenomenon with destructive
potential and humans in their natural
and built environments

Natural Disasters: Key Elements


1. Natural Disasters are all about relationships
a. humans and nature
b. humans and built or lived environment
c. built or lived environment and nature
2. Natural Disasters are triggered by
interactions between these relationships
3. They involve an event and processes

Natural Disasters Occur in


Societies, Not in Nature
Rat Island,
Alaska

Hazard: Working Definition


The latent danger or an external risk
factor of a community, state, society or
exposed individuals.
Examples include: Earthquakes,
volcanic eruptions, cyclones, etc. . .

A Mass of Slow Moving Plates

Cyclone, Typhoon, and Hurricane


Belts

When Plates Collide: Convergent


Boundary
Cascadia Plate
Subducting Beneath
the North American
Plate

Cyclone Haiyan (Yolanda)

Deforestation & Vulnerability in Haiti

60% of Haiti Forested in


1923
1.7% of Haiti Forested in
2006

Vulnerability
Vulnerability is the characteristics of a
person, community, society and their
situation(s) that influence their capacity
to anticipate, cope with, resist and
recover from the impact of a natural
hazard.
Vulnerabilities can be influenced by physical,
political, economic, social, environmental, &
educational factors

Politics, Economics & Vulnerability in


Haiti
80% of Population
Below Poverty Line

Unemployment Rate: 52%


Literacy Rate:
52.9%
6% of
Population
has HIV/AIDS
38% of
Nations
Budget is
from Foreign
Aid

Risk
A Unit of Measure
Risk is often measured by examining the
vulnerabilities of a society along with the
possible hazards it is exposed to at any
one time
Our task is to assess risk, communicate
the risks to those in danger, and to
develop effective policies to reduce or
mitigate risk

LE Event 65 Million Year


Ago

Tsunami Early Warning


System: Indian Ocean
Community

Tsunami Early Warning


System: Japan