Environmental Hazards: Assessing Risk and Reducing Disaster

Environmental Hazards: Assessing Risk and Reducing Disaster

Environmental Hazards: Assessing Risk and Reducing Disaster

Environmental Hazards: Assessing Risk and Reducing Disaster

Synopsis

This volume integrates key findings from the natural and the social sciences to provide an assessment of environmental risk and the policy responses required to achieve a safer world.

Excerpt

The first edition of Environmental Hazards was conceived before the start of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction in 1990. During the fifteen years that have since elapsed, our understanding of the environment and the study of hazards have both advanced rapidly - certainly, and unfortunately, more rapidly than our ability to reduce disaster impacts. Consequently, the death and destruction from large disasters continues to increase. As the third millennium begins to unfold, there is also an awareness that environmental hazards are not only caught up in the ongoing processes of global change but are themselves an integral part of that scene. Indeed, many of the trends observed today - resource depletion, globalisation, spread of material wealth, reliance on technology - can contribute to the toll of disaster on people and what they value in all nations irrespective of their state of human and economic development.

Environmental Hazards remains an introductory text concerned with the processes that create certain hazards and disasters whilst explaining the actions needed to alleviate the most serious consequences of such phenomena. At the outset, it was realised that an account restricted to rapid-onset natural hazards and disasters was insufficient. From the First Edition, technological hazards were included and, as the scope of hazards has spread, so other material has claimed its rightful place. Consistent attempts have been made to position the book within the broad stream of contemporary theory and practice. But, largely because of the current pace and significance of both hazards research and global environmental change, an update of the existing package was no longer adequate. Environmental hazards have emerged as more than site-specific, or community-specific, threats from a local source, whatever the nature of that source. They have now to be placed more explicitly within a framework of global-scale processes, both physical and human, whilst resisting any temptation to widen the scope of enquiry beyond the underlying 'environmental' remit and so create a truly unmanageable task for author and reader.

Although the basic structure of the book remains the same, the text for this edition has been substantially rewritten and improved to accommodate these changing needs, sometimes in response to helpful comments from readers. For example, the section on disease epidemics has been significantly enlarged. The most obvious innovation is a new chapter, on what is called 'context hazards', which aims to paint the subject matter within the wider conceptual canvas mentioned above. There are more diagrams, tables and photographs than in previous editions in order to give a better illustration of the case studies, some of

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