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Department
Geography
Course
Geography 2152F/G
Professor
Prof
Semester
Fall

Description
Hazards - West coast: Earthquakes, landslides - East coast: hurricanes - Mid-continent: Tornadoes, blizzards - All areas: Droughts - Droughts are time periods when there is very little precipitation - Some hazards pose a risk to both humans and the environment o Nuclear meltdowns o Toxic gas release o Oil spills o Ozone depletion o Acid rain o Infrastructure failure o Shipwrecks o Airplane crashes Processes and Natural Hazards - Natural hazards can arise from 3 main processes: o Internal forces within the Earth  Driven by the internal energy of the Earth Ex. Plate tectonics o External forces on Earth’s surface  Driven by the Sun’s energy Ex. Atmospheric effects o Gravitational attraction  Driven by the force of gravity Ex. Downslope movement Definitions - Hazard  A process that poses a potential threat to people or the environment - Risk  The probability of an event occurring multiplied by the impact on people or the environment - Disaster  A brief event that causes great damage or loss of life - Catastrophe  Massive disaster Examples of Recent Catastrophes - Tsunami – Thailand, 2004 - Hurricane (Katrina) – New Orleans, 2005 - Earthquake – Haiti, 2010 - Oil Spill – Gulf of Mexico, 2010 - Tsunami – Japan, 2011 Hazards as Potential Catastrophes - More likely to be catastrophic: o Tsunami, earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, floods - Less likely to be catastrophic: o Landslides, avalanches, wildfires, tornadoes Magnitude and Frequency - The impact of a hazard is a function of both its magnitude (i.e. energy released) and frequency - It can also be affected by other factors (geology, land use, population density, etc.) - Magnitude-Frequency Concept  There is an inverse relationship between magnitude and frequency - Low magnitude – high frequency; high magnitude – low frequency Understanding the Risk of Hazards - The history of an area can provide insight on its risks of hazards - The following provide clues: o Maps, historic documents, journals, aerial photos o Weather and climate data o Craters, faults, valleys The Geologic Cycle - Throughout Earth’s 4.6 billion year history, the materials on or near the surface have been created and modified by physical, chemical, and biological processes - These processes are called the geologic cycle, which encompasses the following: o Tectonic Cycle o Rock Cycle o Hydrologic Cycle Tectonic Cycle - Involves the creation, movement, and destruction of tectonic plates - Tectonic plates  Large blocks of the Earth’s crust that form its outer shell; there are 14 plates - New land is formed at mid-ocean ridges and land is destroyed at Subduction zones - The process is driven by Earth’s internal energy Earth’s Internal Structure - The inner core is extremely hot and solid - The asthenosphere (upper mantle) is composed of hot magma with some flow - The lithosphere is a thin and brittle crust Plate Tectonics - The crust forms the upper part of the lithosphere and is broken into fragments (plates) - Two types of crust: o Oceanic: dense, thin (average 7km thickness) o Continental: relatively buoyant, thick (averages 30km thickness) - Movement of the plates is caused by convection currents that originate in the hot inner core - Relatively buoyant  Less dense - Mountains on the continental crust - Application question: If we have 2 plates coming together, one made of oceanic crust and one of continental crust. Which plate will sink beneath the other plate? o Oceanic plate will sink below the continental plate because the more dense material will always want to sink - Plate boundaries do not tend to match up with continental or oceanic boundaries - The movement of plates caused dynamic events on Earth’s surface, especially at plate boundaries - Types of plate boundaries  Divergent, convergent, transform Plate Boundaries - 200 million years ago  Pangaea - Mount Everest  Highest mountain on Earth - California is on a different plate than the rest of the continent Divergent Plate Boundaries - At these boundaries, plates move away from each other - New land is created at these locations - Divergence results in seafloor spreading and causes oceanic ridges to form (i.e. the Mid-Atlantic Ridge) - Country that sits in the middle of the mid-Atlantic ridge  Iceland  Built on volcanoes Convergent Plate Boundaries - At these boundaries, plates move toward each other - Collisions involving oceanic and continental crust result in Subduction zones: o Dense ocean plates sink and melt o The melted magma rises to form volcanoes - Collisions involving two continental plates result in collision boundaries: o Neither plate sinks o Tall mountains tend to form (Himalayas) - What happens if 2 plates have the same density and they collide? o Neither plate sinks; land pushes upward; ex. India, Asia Transform Boundaries - At these boundaries, plates slide horizontally past each other - The zone along which this movement occurs is called a transform fault - Most of these faults are located beneath oceans, but some occur on continents o Ex. San Andreas Fault - Faults in Ontario  reason why we have minor earthquakes San Andreas Fault - Everybody to the west of the red line (fault) is going to eventually break off from the rest of the continent - Fault passes through San Francisco  San Francisco is known for earthquakes Hot Spots - Found away from plate boundaries - Spots where magma rises up from deep in the mantle - Magma erupting at the surface results in the formation of volcanoes - Strings of islands are usually indicative of a hot spot  Ex. Hawaiian Islands - “Big Island”  Hawaii  Only island with active volcanoes - Position of hot spots does not change, but the plate moves so the position of the island changes - When lava cools, it forms land  only reason why Hawaii is there is because lava cooled Rock Cycle - A rock is an aggregate of one or more minerals - A group of interrelated processes that produce the 3 different rock types: Igneous, sedimentary, metamorphic - Igneous rock is formed from ancient volcanoes - Sedimentary rock is formed by mud that compacts over years - Metamorphic is a combination of igneous and sedimentary rock Hydrologic Cycle - The movement and exchange of water among the land, atmosphere, and oceans by changes in state - Also referred to as the water cycle - Solar energy drives the movement of water among the atmosphere, oceans, and continents - How do we get water to go from the ocean to the atmosphere?  Evaporation Major Course Themes - Hazards can be understood through scientific investigation and analysis - An understanding of hazardous processes is needed to evaluate risk - Hazards are linked to each other and the environment - Population growth and socio-economic changes are increasing the risk from natural hazards - The consequences of hazards can be reduced - Earthquakes cause tsunamis - Hurricanes cause flooding - Consequences of hazards can be reduced through government action and new engineering Hazard Can Be Understood - Scientists observe a hazardous event and form a possible explanation for the cause - From this explanation, a hypothesis is formed - Data is then collected to test the hypothesis - Knowing the cause allows for the identification of where hazards may occur - Knowledge of past events aids in predicting future events Many Hazards Are Natural Processes - Events only become hazardous when they disrupt human activity or the environment - We cannot prevent these processes, we can only respond to them - The best solution to mitigate loss is preparation Mitigating Loss - Accurate predictions and forecasts are necessary - Prediction: A specific time, date, location, and magnitude of the event - Forecast: A range of probability for the event - Some hazards can be predicted. Many can be forecasted - Earthquakes can be forecasted Understanding Hazardous Processes To Evaluate Risk - Risk = (probability of event) x (consequence) - Consequences: damage to people, property, environment, economics, etc. - Acceptable risk is the amount of risk that an individual or society is willing to take - The frequency of an event plays a role in determining acceptable risk Hazards Are Linked - Earthquakes may cause tsunami and landslides - Hurricanes may cause tornadoes and flooding - Some rock types are more prone to landslides Increasing The Risk Of Hazards - The concentration of population creates greater loss of life in disaster - Human population growth is putting greater demand on Earth’s resources - Rapid population growth is currently occurring in most developing countries - Many people live in areas that are prone to hazards Population Growth - The human population was 6.1 billion in 2000 and 7 billion in October 2011 - India and China combined account for 1/3 of world population - India is growing faster than China  partly because of the China’s regulation on children Human Footprint - The risks associated with hazards change as human development expands - Neighborhoods extend onto hillsides and floodplains - Urbanization alters drainage and slopes - Agriculture, forestry, and mining can increase erosion - In Canada, property damage from hazards is increasing but deaths are decreasing (because of better planning and warning) o Property damage is increasing only because Canada has more property Consequences Can Be Reduced - The effects of a disaster may be either direct or indirect - Direct effects: death, injuries, displacement of people, damage to property - Indirect effects: crop failure, starvation, emotional distress, loss of employment - We mainly deal with effects in reactive ways. But, a higher level strategy requires a proactive approach - Reactive approach to hazards: o Recovery, search and rescue, providing emergency food, water, shelter, and rebuilding - Proactive approaches to hazards involves adjustment through: o Land-use planning o Building codes o Insurance o Evacuation planning o Disaster preparedness - Artificial control  concrete wall; flood wall; levee, control where water will go Benefits Of Hazards - What are these benefits called?  Natural service functions - Flooding provides nutrients for soil - Landslides from natural dams to create lakes - Volcanic eruptions create new land Climate Change And Natural Hazards - Global climate change is currently the most important environmental issue facing the Earth - As climate changes, the frequency of some natural processes will increase - Sea level rise from melting ice sheets will cause more coastal erosion and flooding - Warmer oceans will cause more frequent hurricanes Documenting Disasters - Maintaining databases on disasters can be difficult. Why? o Disasters can co-occur (hurricanes cause floods, earthquakes cause landslides, etc.) o Mortality can be difficult to count (famine, epidemics) o General lack of census taking (in developing countries) Identifying Disasters - Some people may consider certain events to be disasters but other people may not - Eastern Canada 1998 Ice Storm - Walkerton tainted water - Canada/U.S. 14-hour power blackout - Love Canal toxic waste spill – New York - Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown – Pennsylvania Defining Disasters - A threshold has been developed by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED): o 10 or more deaths per event, or o 100 or more persons affected (injured, homeless, etc.), or o Government declaration of disaster, or o Plea for international assistance - Exceptions to the CRED threshold: o For droughts or famines, at least 2000 persons affected o For technological disasters, 5 or more deaths per event Disasters And Statistics - Statistical data is often reported in absolute terms (number of casualties, billions of dollars in damage, etc.) - Statistics must be placed in a community/regional context Media And Disasters - The media tends to concentrate on: o Human interest o Visual impact o Events close to home o Prioritized according to a North American perspective - In a study by Adams (1986), the death of one North American = the deaths of 3 eastern Europeans 9 Latin Americans 11 Middle Easterners 12 Asians Disasters And impacts - Earthquakes tend to cause more deaths - Floods affect more people (homelessness) but have fewer casualties - Droughts lead to economic losses (agriculture) in developed countries but famine in developing countries - Drought is a hazard to economics - The impacts are greatest in less developed countries whether measured in absolute terms (i.e. deaths) or relative terms (i.e. deaths per 100,000) Disaster Impact Trends - Most impacts have increased over time: o Property damage o Persons affected o Deaths - Economic damages are increasing at a faster rate than deaths Haiti Earthquake - Haiti has been the poorest country in the western hemisphere for many years - The M7.0 earthquake occurred on Jan. 12, 2010 - One of the worst natural disasters in history; the death toll was over 220,000 - The epicenter was 25km from Port-au-Prince (the capital city) - Occurred along a transform plate boundary - Destruction was enhanced by poor construction materials and a lack of building codes - Many buildings in the slums on the surrounding hillsides slid downhill - The 2 ndfloor of the presidential palace collapsed as did the prison allowing 4000 inmates to escape - Haiti shares the island of Hispaniola with nearby Dominican Republic Reasons For Increases In Impacts From Hazards - Land Pressure o Approximately 1 billion people live on degraded land o Poverty and lack of land availability leads to unsustainable farming practices o Soil erosion, deforestation, clearing mangroves for monoculture o Mangroves can protect against storm surges o Monoculture results in a loss of biodiversity o Mangrove  Swampy area o Problem with monoculture  If disease is in one crop, it spreads to the rest - Urbanization o People are increasingly moving from rural areas to urban areas o Slums and squatter settlements are quickly growing in less developed countries Vulnerability To Disasters - The vulnerability for a particular location is a function of the resiliency and reliability for that location - Resiliency  The rate of recovery from the occurrence of an event o How quick can we recover? - Reliability  The frequency with which protective devices against disasters fail o Protective devices  Flood walls - Reliability is often lower in less developed countries Risk - Risk assessment  The process of estimating the likelihood that a particular hazard will harm human health - Risk management  It involves deciding whether or how to reduce a particular risk to a certain level and at what cost - Risk is viewed as subjective - What we as individuals consider to be risky is based on our own assessment - Probabilistic risk assessments are not a modern phenomenon - There are religious examples that aim to assess the risk to the soul based on moral conduct Probabilistic Risk Assessment - Pascal (1657) o The expected value of accepting Christianity outweighs the expected value of rejecting it Accept Christianity Reject Christianity God Exists Soul saved Eternal damnation Pagans not God does not exist Miss out on pagan fun “punished” o Choosing the column of accepting Christianity is better Risk Assessment Data Issues - Event Data o It is best to have at least 100 years of data o The amount of data is not available for several hazards (high-magnitude earthquakes, nuclear accidents, etc.) - Loss Data o This is often less available than event data o Dollars must constantly be adjusted for inflation Statistical Analysis - R = P * L - R = risk P = probability of hazard occurrence L = loss (health, economic, etc.) - Interpreting Probabilities o Cumulative probabilities sum to 1 therefore we can read each probability as a percent o 0.01 is something with a 1% chance of happening Risk Analysis Event Trees - Used when the event database is inadequate (too small) - The chain of events leading to a disaster must be known - Probabilities within the chain must be calculatable Estimating Risk - What is the risk associated with a technological system? o The overall reliability of a technological system is the product of two factors o System reliability = Technology reliability * Human reliability o With careful design and maintenance, a system such as a nuclear power plant or space shuttle can achieve a high degree of technological reliability o Human reliability is usually lower than technology reliability and is difficult to predict o Suppose the technology reliability of a nuclear power plant is 95% and human reliability is 75% o System reliability is 71%. (0.9*0.75*100 = 0.71) - The dependence of even the most carefully designed systems on unpredictable human reliability helps explain tragedies such as the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident and the Challenger and Columbia space shuttle accidents Risk Analysis - In terms of the number of premature deaths per year, the greatest risk is poverty - Poverty is linked to: o Malnutrition o Increased susceptibility to fatal diseases o Lack of access to health care o Contaminated water supplies - The reduction of poverty would do far more to improve longevity and human health than any other measure - Indirect benefits of reducing poverty: o Stimulate economic development o Reduce environmental degradation o Improve human rights Risk Perception - Many people are not concerned with high-risk activities that are done voluntarily - Motorcycling (1 premature death in 50 participants) - Smoking (1 in 300) - Driving a car (1 in 4200) - Yet, the same people can be terrified by West Nile Virus (1 in 1 million) or plane crashed (1 in 9 million) Factors Influencing Risk Perception - Risks from hazards are more accepted if they are perceived to: o Be voluntary vs. imposed o Be under out control vs. controlled by others o Have clear benefits vs. little or no benefit o Be natural vs. anthropogenic o Be statistical vs. catastrophic o Be familiar vs. exotic o Affect mainly adults vs. children Improving Our Risk Perceptions - How can we become better at estimating risks? o Carefully evaluate what the media presents o Compare risks (the question is not ‘is it safe?’ but rather ‘how risky is it compared to other risks?’) o Concentrate on the more serious risks to your health and don’t worry about risks over which you have little control Changing Nature Of Risk - A shift in the nature of risks: o Infectious diseases  Chronic degenerative diseases o Accidents shift from the workplace to outside of the workplace (i.e. automobile) o Natural hazards have less of an impact (human casualties) in developed countries - There has been an increase in new hazard threats o Most technological hazards with a lower probability of high catastrophic potential o Nuclear technology, chemical spills, pesticides, ozone depletion, acid precipitation - We have an increased ability to measure risks to our health quantitatively o North American life expectancy is increasing - There is an increased role of government in risk assessments and risk management o Departments devoted to disaster relief, traffic safety, public health, etc. - There is an increased involvement of laypeople in risk management decisions o Green Peace, Sierra Club - As countries transition from developing to developed, there are increased public expectations and demands for protection o Creates pressure on governments and sometimes expectations can be unrealistic Tsunami - Tsunami is Japanese for “harbour wave” - Produced by the sudden displacement of water - Events capable of triggering tsunami: o Earthquakes that cause uplift of the seafloor o Landslides o Volcano flank collapse o Submarine volcanic eruptions o Meteorites - Not a title wave Historic Tsunami Date Cause Human Casualties 1755 Lisbon Earthake (M 9.0), Portugal 20,000 1883 Krakatoa Volcanic eruption (VEI 6), Indonesia 36,000 2004 Sumatra Earthquake (M 9.1), Indonesia 230,000 2011 Tohoku Earthquake (M 9.0), Japan 15,000 Earthquake-Triggered Tsunami - Earthquakes can cause tsunami in 2 ways: o Through displacement of the seafloor o By triggering a landslide that enters water - Generally, an earthquake must be of at least M 7.5 in order to trigger a tsunami - Tsunami develop in a 4 stage process - Stage 1: o Displacement of the seafloor sets waves in motion that transmit energy outward and upward o When the waves reach the surface, they spread outward - Stage 2: o In the deep ocean, the waves move rapidly (can reach speeds of over 500 km/h) o The spacing of the wave crests is very large (can be more than 100 km) o The height (amplitude) of the waves if often small (less than 1 m) - Stage 3: o As the tsunami approaches land, the water depth decreases o The result is the water ‘piling up’ and causes these effects:  Decrease in speed  Decrease in spacing of the waves  Increase in amplitude - Stage 4: o As the tsunami hits land, it can reach heights of dozen of meters o The speed at this time can be up to 50 km/h making it impossible to outrun o During some tsunami, the water recedes from the shore and exposes the seafloor Tsunami Event - Consists of a series of large waves reaching shore than can last for several hours - Run-up  The maximum horizontal and vertical distances that the largest wave of a tsunami reaches as it travels inland - The run-up essentially describes the geographic area impacted by a tsunami Inundation Maps - Maps showing run-up of previous tsunami area created to help plan for future events - Historical records, geologic data, and aerial photography aid in making the maps - Many communities on Vancouver Island have such maps and development restrictions exist in tsunami-prone areas Types of Tsunami - Distant tsunami  A tsunami that travels thousands of kilometers across the open ocean o On remote shorelines across the ocean, reduced energy lessens the impact o Also called tele-tsunami - Local tsunami  A tsunami that affects shorelines a few kilometers to about 100 km from its source o Because of the short distance, local tsunami provide little warning Regions At Risk - Coasts located near Subduction zones or across ocean basins from Subduction zones are most at risk - 85% of tsunami are generated in the Pacific Ocean - Areas at greatest risk are around the Pacific Ocean, the northeast Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean Sea Effects Of Tsunami - Primary Effects: o Flooding and erosion destroy beaches, coastal vegetation, and buildings o After the tsunami retreats to the ocean, scattered debris is left behind o Most tsunami deaths are from drowning. Injuries result from physical impacts with debris - Secondary Effects: o Generally occur after the event is over o Fires may develop due to ruptured gas lines or from ignition of flammable chemicals o Water supplies may become polluted and water-borne diseases (cholera) may spread Natural Service Functions - Tsunami can carry fertile sediment and oil onto the land that can then be used for agriculture Indian Ocean Tsunami Of 2004 th - Occurred on Dec. 26 - The source was a M 9.1 earthquake off the west coast of Sumatra (an island in Indonesia) - 3 most powerful earthquake in world history - The earthquake occurred in a Subduction zone between the Burma and Indian-Australian plates - These plates had been locked for over 150 years allowing strain to build - The rupture caused some areas along the coastline to subside below sea level - The tsunami reached nearby Indonesian islands within minutes of the earthquake - Countries bordering the Indian Ocean did not have a tsunami warning system like the Pacific Ocean - Over 230,000 people died - People in the area were ignorant of the early warning signs (such as the receding sea) Lessons From The Tsunami - Effective tsunami warning systems are needed in all ocean basins where tsunami can occur - In 2006, a new warning system became operational in the Indian Ocean - Once a warning has been issued, emergency officials must have a plan for evacuating residents - Earthquake and tsunami education is necessary for people who live on or visit coastlines - Indonesia is the 3 most populated country in the world Detecting Tsunami - The Pacific Ocean warning system uses a network of seismographs to estimate earthquake magnitude - Tidal gauges and sensors connected to buoys verify that a tsunami was produced - Some sensors sit on the bottom and measure changes in water pressure passing over them - These are known as tsunameters Japan Tsunami Of 2011 - Occurred Mar. 11 th - The source was a M 9.0 earthquake off the east coast of Japan - A tsunami warning was issued nearly an hour before its arrival - Over 15,000 people died - The flatter the land, the more the wave can come inland Categories Of Adjustment - Modify Loss Burden o Loss sharing o Spread the burden well beyond immediate victims o Insurance, relief aid - Modify Design o Loss reduction o Requires a knowledge base on the hazard o Retrofitting buildings - Modify Human Vulnerability o Adjust the population to the events o Preparedness programs, land use planning, warning systems Factors Affecting Adjustment Choices - Hazards are not typically a priority of governments (compared to unemployment, inflation, health care, crime, poverty, etc.) - Radical vulnerability adjustments are unrealistic (i.e. moving entire communities) - A cost-benefit assessment is typically required Losses: Two Scenarios - Accepting Loss o This is the ‘free’ choice. It is a no-action response o People choose to live how they want regardless of the hazard o Floodplain housing can be attractive because it may be inexpensive - Sharing Loss o Government intervention response o If governments do not intervene after a disaster, there are often political ramifications Sharing Loss - Aid can come from external sources (UNICEF), internal sources (government), inter-community sources, or insurance - Problems with Sharing Loss o A disaster of sudden onset is likely to draw more money than another similarly serious disaster o Donor fatigue can set in if there are many disasters o Recovery can take a very long time in some countries o Aid and enthusiasm eventually wanes Factors Affecting Individual Adjustment - Order of likeliness of the following hazards occurring at some point in London over the next 50 years o Blizzard o Ice storm o Flood o Hurricane o Tornado - Experience  More experience with a hazard results in more likelihood of adjustment - Material wealth  More resources results in more information and more options - Personality  Some people are more likely to take risks Prospect Theory - Generally, people are more willing to protect against loss than they are willing to gamble on an equivalent gain - Protecting our assets, protecting against loss Responses To Hazards - Cultural adaptatio This type of adaptation may result from changes in an environment o Ex. Mackenzie River Delta  The discovery of oil forces adaptation as the resource is developed  The only people who lived in this area were Inuits; Inuits were forced to adapt to new culture - Purposeful adjustment This is an adjustment that is specifically designed to reduce loss or damage o Ex. Designing buildings to withstand earthquakes in high-risk areas - Incidental adjustment  These are not primarily hazard-related but have the effect of reducing potential loss o Advances in technology have improved warning systems o Increased capacity to store and move grain over long distances has reduced vulnerability to drought - Absorptive capacity  This is a measure of the ability of individuals or groups to sustain impacts from a hazard o Results from combinations of cultural adaptation, purposeful adjustment, and incidental adjustment o In parts of Kenya maize, beans, peas, sorghum, and ground nuts are planted all together. This encourages deep roots and is more drought resistant Cognitive Influences On Choice - Based on 100 years of data, the estimated probability of a 100-year tornado touching down in Disastertown in 2012 was 0.01 - In 2012 a tornado touched down in Disastertown - The likelihood of a 100-year tornado touching down in 2013 is considerably less than 0.01 because one struck in 2012. True or False? o False - Gambler’s Fallacy  The belief that the occurrence of a chance event influences the probability of future occurrences Theory of Choice - Expected Utility o Optimize the values o Choose on the basis of all expected outcomes o Probabilities are multiplied against assessments of value (utility) o Potential issue: ascribing probabilities to events usually involves uncertainty Patterns Of Choice - There are 4 patterns regarding how people choose to respond to a risk 1. Absorb o View the risk as unproblematic or deny it outright o The probability is deemed too lwo to worry about o Fate is determined by the capacity to absorb losses o Ex. San Andreas fault 2. Accept o There is awareness of the hazard (no denial) o Passive attitude (there is little that can be done to affect the impacts) o Hazards are often viewed as acts of God o Ex. Nigeria drought 3. Reduce o There is awareness of the hazard (no denial) o Action is taken to reduce impacts o Typically there is emergency action and some preparation o Usually people stay in place o Ex. Flooding events, snow and wind related hazards 4. Change o There is awareness of the hazard (no denial) o Radical action may be taken (move away or change the land use) o Ex. Australia drought Social Amplification Of Risk - No comprehensive theory exists to explain why apparently minor risk events sometimes produce massive public reactions - Name an event that typically evokes massive public reactions o West Nile Virus o Y2K o Blackout o Nuclear meltdowns - What are some potentially negative impacts of such reactions? o Puts pressure on the government to not move toward nuclear power even though it is a clear source of power compared to coal Evocative Hazards - Urban Pesticides Banal Hazards - Known to be serious but typically evoke little public reaction - According to a Consumers Union study, eating peanut butter (which contains an average level of 2 parts per billion of aflatoxin) once every 10 days would present a cancer risk of 7 in one million o Higher than the estimated risk of cancer from most pesticides Amplification And Attenuation Of Risk - Amplification o Involves hazards that have a low probability as assessed by experts o Elicit strong public concern - Attenuation o Involves hazards that may have serious physical impacts and relatively high probability o Elicit weak public concern - Transmitter  Generates and sends the risk message - Signal  The message itself - Receiver o The target audience for message signals o The original signal may be considerably modified by the time it is received Signal Value - Signals can be prescribed values by the receiver - This is related to the characteristics of the event and the hazard it reflects - High signal values might suggest that a new risk has appeared or that the risk is different than previously understood Examples Of Signal Value - An accident that takes many lives may produce little social disturbance if it occurs as part of a familiar and understood system (such as a train wreck) - A small accident in an unfamiliar or poorly understood system (nuclear power plant, laboratory) may cause public concern since people may perceive the risk is uncontrollable Stigmatization - Process by which negative images are ascribed to places, technologies, and people - The location of a future event in the area could alter the risk perception because of past events - Ex. Love Canal, Nevada Test Site - Nevada Test Site  Where nuclear weapons are tested Impacts - Spread of Impact o Impacts can spread like ripples and often extend beyond the local area o Entire countries, technologies (medication), industries (meat) can be affected - Secondary Impacts o Property values, retail sales, and insurance rates can change in response Secondary Impacts - Stigma and property values are typically intertwined - Ex. There were significant differences between house prices in wildfire affected areas and non-affected areas of Phoenix after a wildfire that the government deemed was very low risk Risk Perception Theories - Why do some people feel that technological activities (i.e. nuclear power plants or chemical pesticides) are a major concern while others feel that they are not a concern? - 5 theories that attempt to explain this: o Knowledge o Personality o Economic o Political o Cultural Knowledge Theory - How was this theory tested? o Education level o Self reported knowledge o Subjects were asked to provide an estimate of annual fatalities from 8 technological activities (aviation, nuclear power, lawn mowers, etc.). Their answers were then compared to actual data - Hypothesis  Greater knowledge leads to a greater perceived threat Personality Theory - This theory was tested using validated measures and questionnaires developed by psychologists - Hypothesis  There is consistency between the personality type and the perceived threat from hazards Economic Theory - This theory is based on the annual income of the subjects - Hypotheses: o The wealth are more willing to take risks with technology because they may benefit more or have more access o The poor are less willing because they may deal with any associated burdens (pollution) Political Theory - This theory is tested by determining the political ideology of the subjects (20 question survey) - Hypothesis  Personal views toward risk are related to the political party and policies that they support Cultural Theory - This theory is based on the way of life of the subjects (urban, rural, retired, child-rearing, etc.) - Supported by personal worldviews (i.e. the way the person believes the world does or should operate) - Examples of worldviews  Hierarchical, egalitarian, individualist - Hypothesis  The worldview will be correlated to how the person perceives risk Hierarchical Worldview - Defines boundaries between superiors and subordinates - Strong patriotism - Support for country, right or wrong - Strong respect for authority (law, order, and obedience are strongly valued) - Strict ethical standards - Concern about lack of discipline in youth Egalitarian Worldview - Centres on political solutions to inequality - Belief that world conflict can be eliminated with a more equal distribution of resources - Support for government efforts to reduce poverty - Support for high tax burdens on the wealthy - A lack of trust in large corporations Individualism Worldview - Emphasizes personal freedom and choice - Constraints on individuals should be minimized (lack of support for heavy government regulation) - Belief that the welfare state destroys individual initiative - Continued economic growth and private profit are keys to quality of life Results - Tests of the 5 theories were performed in a study by Wildavsky and Dake (1990) - 134 people participated in the study - Knowledge Theory o The results suggested that greater knowledge resulted in greater perceived benefit of technological activities but they were not statistically significant - Personality Theory o Those who perceived technological activities as h
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