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Geo Exam Review Notes.docx

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Western University
Geography 2152F/G
Bharat Punjabi

Geo Exam Review Notes Chapter 1 – Addressing the Root Causes of Large-Scale Disasters Definitions are given indicating that the term “natural disaster” might be a misnomer because disasters tends to require human input to occur, making few disasters be truly “natural” Vulnerability is shown to arise from population, economic and political factors Defining Disasters Large scale disaster: by the number of people affected by it and the extent of the geographic area involved: either 100 or 1,000 people need to be adversely affected, or else the disaster’s 2 adverse effects must cover 10 to 100 km - Each event representing a potential hazard, peril, or danger must be separated from a disaster where casualties and/or damage are witnessed - Disaster adversely effects people, an environmental event that does not adversely affect people is not a disaster – they are considered to be disturbances o Disturbance: is neutral – it removes organisms but it also opens up space for others - Conditions that become disastrous but with less clear start and end points are also incorporated - Catastrophic: disasters that can be identified with specific events - Chronic: disasters that still overwhelm a community’s ability to cope, yet are part of daily life - “creeping environmental problems” and “creeping environmental changes”: describe ongoing changes that overwhelm a community’s ability to cope - Longer term processes are often termed “disaster conditions” and “disaster events” Disaster risk reduction: “the conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid(prevention) or to limit(mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development Do Natural Disasters Exist? Natural Disasters: refer to a disaster in which the hazard or event originates in the environment - Belief systems think that it is to punish humanity or to assert power - However, human behaviour has been extended the focus to all “natural disasters”, identifying “the growing vulnerability of the population to extreme physical events”, not changes in natures as causing the observed increase in disasters - Accept the notion that human input exists to all disasters - “natural disasters do not exist they are socially constructed” o Human decisions are the root causes of disaster The “No” Perspective: explains that any location in the universe has vulnerability to such objects and that humanity did not have a choice in the evolving earth - The “no” perspective suggests that it is impractical to demand that resources be used to monitor and counter every conceivable threat. The “Yes” Perspective: contends that humanity has the ability to monitor for potential threats in order to provide enough lead-time to act avert calamity, namely, by deflecting the object’s trajectory or by breaking it up - The “yes” perspective contends that humanity makes the choice not to expend the resources. Monitoring deep enough into space in all directions to provide enough lead time for successful action, irrespective of the objects size, would be costly. Whether all such human impacts result from human decisions depends on what would be defined as “root causes” Root Cause: Vulnerability Vulnerability is not only about the present state, but also about what society has done to itself over the long-term, why and how that has been done in order to reach the present state, and how the present state could be changed to improve for the future. - Because few extremes occur, mitigation and preparedness activities for large-scale events tend to lapse - There is decreased awareness of the potential flood and drought hazards, decreased understanding of how to predict and react to floods and droughts and decreased ability to psychologically cope with flood and drought events - The hazard is minimal in the short term, but vulnerability is immense over the long term - Eventually a large-scale flood or drought must occur, yielding damage that is far greater than would have occurred if the affected community were used to regular, small-scale floods and droughts o This is known as risk transference: risk is transferred onto future events The hydrological engineering, brought benefits - If a reservoir were constructed then water would be available during droughts- except for extreme droughts - In extreme droughts, the community would have poor mitigation and preparedness because less extreme droughts were not experienced and because the perception would be that the reservoir has ended drought worries: risk transference Altering vulnerability with a long term plan therefore tends to be the most effective approach for disaster risk reduction - Hazard alteration provides a useful tool that should be implemented on occasion Root Causes of Vulnerability - The vulnerable role in which women are place in society o Women are consistently outnumbered compared to men in fatalities  This imbalance results from gender roles within society; for instance men are taught how to swim more often then women, and thus, men would be more comfortable being immersed in water than women would be  Lack of physical strength, lack of swimming ability, lack of comfort in water - Increase in population o Aka. Urbanization increases vulnerability - Economic structures o Impose restrictions on addressing root causes of vulnerability o Mitigation investments can be deemed to be overly expensive - Poverty o Poorer people tend to have fewer choices  Where they live – aka. Types of buildings and locations  Access to education, health care, insurance, political lobbying and legal recourse o Poverty leads to vulnerability, but vulnerability can lead to poverty if disasters continually occur, precluding any opportunity to address vulnerability over the longer term - Wealth o More value exists to be damaged o Absolute impact: total fatalities, or the total monetary value of losses o Proportional impact: the percentage of a community killed or the percentage of assets lost o Although more affluent countries appear to be more vulnerable than less affluent countries from a wealth perspective, the proportional cost of a disaster if often greater in less affluent countries o Wealth permits choice that can increase vulnerability  Poverty does not provide the luxury of creating that choice regarding vulnerability - Lack of leadership and political will o Inadequate bottom-up and top-down leadership Tackling Root Cases of Disaster Two main principles that have emerged from disaster risk reduction with regard to reducing vulnerability: 1. Localizing disaster risk reduction - Refers to the evidence that disaster risk reduction, including pre-disaster activities such as preparedness and mitigation and post-disaster activities such as response and recovery, are best achieved at the local level with community involvement - The most successful outcomes are seen with broad support and action from local residents, rather then relying only on external specialists, professionals or interventions - Must be prepared to take care of themselves for 72 hours 2. Living with risk - Accepting that the hazard component of risk is a usual part of life and livelihoods - Meaninsg building and maintaining habitats and livelihoods by using available resources without destroying those resources o Ownership: they can control their own fate, witness the impact of their actions on their own safety and security, and be motivated to help themselves o Relevance – disaster risk reduction is seen to be positive and tangibly impact day to day life – improved choices o Savings – disaster risk reduction is cost effective o Continuity – it is an ongoing process Chapter 2 – Hazard in the Environment Economic development and environmental hazards are rooted in the same ongoing processes of change - As the world population grows, so more people are exposed to hazard - As people become more prosperous, so more personal wealth is at risk Changing Perspectives Pre-1950 - In the past, these great catastrophes were seen as “acts of God” - Damaging events are divine punishment for moral misbehaviour, rather than a consequence of use of the earth - It encouraged a general acceptance of disasters as external, inevitable events 1950-1999 - Gilbert White saw that natural hazards are not physical phenomena outside of society but are linked to countless individual decisions to settle and develop hazard-prone land - Question whether natural disasters really existed at all - White’s approach was strengthened by the subsequent recognition of “man made” or technological hazards, notably environmental pollution – known as a “quasi-natural” hazard - The focus began to shift from hazards to disasters and from the more developed countries (MDC) to the less developed countries (LDC) - Relationships now focused on the underdevelopment and siaster occurrences in the Third World - Human Vulnerability – a characteristic of the poorest and the most disadvantages – became an important concept The Paradigms of Hazard The Dominant (Behavioural) Paradigm - Construct an ambitious set of flood control works on the premise that geophysical extremes were the cause of disaster and that the physical control of floods, together with other natural events, would provide an effective cure - Gilbert white argued that flood control works should be integrated with non-structural methods to produces more comprehensive flood-plain management o This view recognised the role played by human actions in exacerbating hazards - The universal consequences of disaster was believed to be a temporary disruption of “normal” life - Solution was sought through the “technical fix” methodology: in the fullness of time, it was believed that the transfer of technology from the developed to the developing world, world eventually solve their problems too - According to Hewitt the behavioural paradigm has 3 thrusts: o The main aim was to contain the extremes of nature through environmental engineer works o The modelling and prediction of damaging events was aided y the use of technical tools o Priority was given to disaster plans and emergency responses, mostly operated by the armed forces The Radical (Structuralist) Paradigm - It is originated in the belief that disasters in the Third World arise more from the workings of the global economy and the marginalisation of poor people than from the effects of the extreme geophysical events - Dwells on the common features of disaster and stresses the limits to individual action imposed by powerful global forces - Challenges the dominant view at certain key points o Disasters are caused by human exploitations o Disasters usual events in poor countries  Disaster victims are not to blame for their own misfortunes because effective responses are limited by a lack of resources o Disaster mitigation depends on fundamental change involving a re-distribution of wealth and power - Disasters spring from underdevelopment arising from dependency and unequal trading arrangements between rich and poor - Human vulnerability is a key feature of this paradigm - The most successful and sustainable disaster-reduction strategies are believed to originate in community-based adaptation Human Vulnerability to Disaster Vulnerability, like risk and hazard, is a possible future state that implies high risk combined with an inability to cope - Resilience: is a measure of the capacity to absorb and recover from the impact of a hazardous event o Traditional resilience is common in the LDCs where disaster is a normal part of life and group coping strategies are important - Reliability: reflects the frequency with which protective devices against hazard fail o More applicable to the MDC where technology ensures a high degree of reliability for most urban services o However, extreme stress for example from an earth quake, can disrupt road networks, electric power lines, or water systems The Rich and the Poor International Scale Gross National Income (GNI) per capita divided into 3 main groups: low income, middle income and high income - 66 countries as low income and 52 countries as high income – out of approximately 200 countries Human Index Development uses 3 variables to measure a wider quality of human life than income alone: life expectancy, educational attainment and income – the groups are defined as high medium or low However, they do not always reflect actual disaster impacts because income and development fail to capture either physical exposure to hazard or the vulnerability of individual communities Blaike argued that it is people that deal with disaster- not systems - For most people access to resources is a critical factor - In absolute terms, the most vulnerable people may appear economically immune when disaster strikes because they have so little to lose in terms of crops, housing or income The very young and the very old are high risk groups - Survivors over 60 years of age and females are most likely to have severe physical injuries and that females also suffer disproportionately from psychiatric stress disorders - Older people face difficulties in maintaining their livelihood after disaster - People with chronic malnourishment suffer more from water-related diseases after floods Common weaknesses include the organisational structure and the lack of welfare programmes It is likely that being excluded from a “vulnerable group” may itself increase vulnerability for some people Chapter 6 – The Idea of Calamity in a Technocratic Age - Human communities have always suffered losses from flood, drought or storm - Prevailing scientific views of these problems is quite a recent invention Developments have become the single greatest impediment to improvement in both the understanding of natural calamities and the strategies to alleviate them - One can recognise a convergence of opinion or approaches; a sufficient consensus to speak of a ‘dominant view’ o Dominance is evident in the resources allocated; in the numbers of highly trained personnel involved and the volume of their published works; in the public visibility and acceptance of these works; and perhaps most of all in the attachment of this view to the more powerful institutions of modern states o For the dominant view of hazards is not merely enshrined in rarefied language and the technical apparatus, it is fully symptomatic of the social contexts in which it has arisen and that still forms its main points of reference o Its strength depends less upon its logic and internal sophistication than on its being a convenient productive ‘world view’ for certain dominant institutions and academic spokesmen  It is a construct reflecting the shaping hand of contemporary social order The unease or outright criticism of accepted hazards interpretations in the chapters that follow seems to me to stem essentially from the struggle to articulate and to pursue intellectual and societal perspectives that the dominant view has served to stifle Examine the styles of argument, the uses of information and managerial assumptions that divide off the dominant consensus not merely from other research but from the variety of possible viewpoints and concerns of hazard research The Dominant View in Outline - There is a generally straightforward acceptance of natural disasters as a result of ‘extremes’ in geophysical processes - The occurrence and essential features depend primarily upon the nature of storms, earthquakes, flood, drought - Actual usage almost invariably refers to an objective geophysical process, such as hurricane or frost, as ‘the hazard’ - Damage and human actions are defined by, or as responses to, the type, magnitude, frequency, and other dimensions of these processes - The sense of causality or the direction of explanation still runs from the physical environment to its social impacts - The initiative in calamity is seen to be with nature, which decides where and what social conditions or responses will become significant - The implication always seems to be that disaster occurs because of the chance recurrences of natural extremes, modified but fortuitously by human circumstances - Reference is made to past major disasters in assessing risk - Disaster itself is attributed to nature - Also, an equally strong conviction that something can be done about disaster by society - Everyday or ‘ordinary’ human activity can do little except make the problem worse by default o In other words, the structure of the problem is seen to depend upon the ratios between given forces of nature and ‘advanced’ institutional and technical counterforce Dominant view has fallen into 3 main areas: 1. An unprecedented commitment to the monitoring and scientific understanding of geophysical processes as a foundation for dealing with their human significance and impacts o Immediate goal in relation to hazards is that of prediction 2. Planning and managerial activities to contain those processes where possible and where it is not possible, physically to rearrange human activities in accordance with the objective geophysical patterns and probabilities 3. Emergency measures, involving disaster plans and the establishment of organization for relief and rehabilitation o Action is most commonly and directly put in the hands of the military Social sciences play a substantial role, notably in the studying ‘crisis behaviour’ and emergency services - In recent decades, social scientist have tended to concentrate increasingly upon direct socioeconomic and behavioural relations of the three areas of the dominant view noted above o They ask how individuals or groups appraise the risks of occupying areas classified as typhoon coasts or flood plains o They ask how people respond to forecasts, requests to conserve water and hazard-zoning legislation o They examine how people and institutions ‘cope’ when the volcano erupts or a crop is destroyed - By this narrow focus upon information that centres the problem upon natural extremes and damaging events, they easi
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