Climate Events and Human Development
Some experts have suggested
that global warming and climate change is the cause of these higher
rates of damage. However, Roger Pielke, Jr. of the CIRES
Center for Science and Technology Policy Research suggests human complacency
and population growth is more the cause for higher rates of damage rather
than an increase in natural disasters or climate change.
In his 1999 book Disasters
by Design: A Reassessment
of Natural Hazards in the United States, Dennis
Mileti of the Natural
Hazards Center at the University of Colorado notes that in the United
States, (where the cost of natural hazards has averaged as much as $1
billion a week in the 1990s,) when steps were taken to reduce the impact
of natural hazards, it can actually make situations worse.
"The really big catastrophes
are getting larger and will continue to get larger, partly because of
things we've done in the past to reduce risk," states Mileti. "For
example, building a dam or levee may protect a community from the small-
and medium sized floods the structures were designed to handle. But additional
development that occurs because of this protection will
mean even greater losses during a big flood that causes the dam or levee
to fail. Many of the accepted methods for coping with hazards have been
based on the idea that people can use technology to control nature to
make them safe," he adds.
Mileti said, "We need to change the culture to think about designing communities for our great grandchildren's children's children."
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