11 November 2016
Being vulnerable to the forces of nature is entirely social and political economic decisions. This article provides an overview of 40 years of critical disaster studies and why critical approach to understanding disasters can save lives.
Amidst growing calamities globally, it may be time to ask a fundamental question: Is there anything natural about natural disasters? Vulnerable housing and buildings that collapsed in recently in Italy and Haiti this year and in Nepal last year are examples of public policy failures to ensure resilience of new and old buildings to earthquakes in places around the world. Critical disaster studies have long argued that natural disasters do not exist. The overemphasis on the naturalness of the natural events such as earthquakes and storms as the root cause of disasters have been long contested for many good reasons at least in the last 260 years.
So let’s be critical. Most planets experience quakes. On earth such quakes are called earthquakes. On Mars, there are marsquakes. On the moon, there are moonquakes. In a year, here on earth, we have at least 1.44 million earthquakes each year as documented consistently by the United States Geological Survey. And remember, the earth is a moving spaceship. It moves like a giant airplane orbiting the sun and in that process its stresses and strains get released to the surface. People just do not see it this way.
… Jonatan A. Lassa PhD is a Senior Lecturer in Humanitarian Emergency and Disaster Management Studies Programme at Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia. He is an adjunct Research Fellow with the Centre for Non-Traditional Security Studies (NTS Centre) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
NTS Centre / Online
Last updated on 15/11/2016