Planet Earth

Why You Should Care About Preparing the Planet for Disasters

In an increasingly connected world, focusing on the local hazards is only part of what we should be doing.

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiAug 26, 2022 1:50 PM
Earthquake Damage in Ecuador
Collapsed buildings after an earthquake in Ecuador on April 16, 2016. Credit: EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid / Wikipedia.

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We hear about disasters almost instantly today. If there is a big earthquake or eruption or typhoon, we find out about it in near real-time, with journalists on the scene, government agencies posting information and social media (for better or worse) tweets and the like spreading images and videos rapidly.

Yet, with all that rapid dissemination of news, we still exist in a world where catastrophic events on the other side of the planet (or even the other side of the country) can seem detached from your own life. That's a perfectly normal human response because the perception is that is the local that will have the most impact on your existence. This may be true for many things, but in our increasingly interwoven world, it isn't that simple anymore.

If we want to think about the impacts of disasters and how we perceive them, we first need think about the timescales and length-scales of natural hazards. Not all hazards are the same in terms of how much of an area they impact (the length-scale) and how often they can have a significant negative impact (the timescale).

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