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Sometimes the risks that receive the most attention in hindsight are actually less likely than what we realise. But there are important reasons for finding effective ways to respond to high-profile risks. Thinking through risk and taking a rational approach to mitigating it, or becoming more resilient to it, may mean looking at risk in terms of applying regulations that reduce threats of harm from the start (as in the case of reducing risk through positive reinforcement), or better understanding how populations respond to risky behaviours like smoking.
Instead of analysing the risk, people often respond to the emotion or feeling a particular risk will incite. Risk of a large earthquake, nuclear meltdown, or lung cancer from smoking cigarettes are all risks that may produce emotional responses, what Professor Paul Slovic, a leader in psychological research of risk perception has called ‘the feeling of risk’, also known in psychology as the affect heuristic – the positive or negative feelings we associate with experience. Affect is used as a kind of mental shortcut in order for people to make decisions or solve problems quickly, it is also better known as ‘gut feeling’. Read the rest of this entry »
10th March 2014, 13:00 to 14:00, Seminar Room 010, Dept of Geography, Professor Alberto Montanari, University of Bologna, Italy
The damages and fatalities caused by floods are dramatically increasing in many countries of the world, including in Europe and developing regions. Scientists have long investigated the possible reasons for the raising severity of floods, in order to devise efficient strategies for mitigating the above damages. There is a general consensus that is widely amplified by media, that climate change is the most important triggering factor of the increased flood hazard and vulnerability. This seminar will give an overview of recent research on this subject and will provide a forward-looking perspective on the impact of floods on human activity. Read the rest of this entry »
There seems to be a paradox in how some risks are mitigated. For instance, there is a tendency to believe that implementing safety regulations will in effect reduce the risk of harm
. While implementing safety regulations helps reduce the levels of risk people are exposed to they can also redistribute the risk, eliminating some risks, but increasing others by decreasing the level of perceived risk. This has been given several names by researchers including ‘risk homeostasis’, ‘risk compensation’ and ‘offset hypothesis’ and there are good reasons to think that it could help to better inform policies and regulations for making people’s lives safer, but it is also controversial amongst scientists and practitioners working in public safety.
There are a number of upcoming seminars in the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience. All seminars take place from 1pm-2pm in Seminar Room 010, Dept of Geography, unless noted otherwise.
Professor Julian Reiss, Dept of Philosophy
Professor Nick Saul, Dept of German Read the rest of this entry »
A satellite view of the floods at Somerset Levels as heavy rains earlier this month brought severe flooding to South West England. This comes at a time when extreme weather events have become more frequent throughout the world, particularly rainfall. In order to prepare for such events finding ways to adapt built infrastructure and coordinate services across the public and private sectors is vital.
Scholarships and bursaries are available for the Risk Masters programmes based in the Department of Geography and the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience at Durham University.
Civil Society Leadership Awards
The Civil Society Leadership Award provides a fully funded master’s level scholarship for the MSc Risk and Environmental Hazards and MA Risk and Security programmes within the Geography department. The program aims to support individuals who demonstrate both academic and professional excellence and have the potential to become civil society leaders in their home communities.
Eligible countries: Azerbaijan, Belarus; Cambodia; Egypt; Ethiopia; Laos; South Sudan; Sudan; Syria; Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Extreme rainfall in southern England
Southern England is currently undergoing an extraordinary period of exceptional rainfall, especially in the south, which is causing floods on an unprecedented scale. This rainfall, which is likely to be a consequence of climate change, shows no signs of abating, with further heavy falls expected over the next few days. Not surprisingly there have been many landslides, especially on the coast and along railway lines, and more can be expected. The UK Met Office provides monthly precipitation data for Southern England . I have downloaded the data and plotted the monthly time series from 1910 (the start of the dataset):
The horizontal line in the long-term mean value (77.3 mm). The 2014 total, at 165.4 mm, is 2.8 standard deviations from the mean – a truly exceptional value. And of course it is still raining, such that since the end of January the floods have got much, much worse. Read the rest of this entry »
A new policy and practice note that disseminates findings from the BIOPICCC project was published by the Living with Environmental Change (LWEC) research partnership and is now available online.
The brief authored by Executive Director of IHRR Professor Sarah Curtis, Dr Jonathan Wistow and Dr Val Dimitri, ‘Ensuring resilience in care for older people’, provides guidance for care services for older people to ensure the resilience of their infrastructures and systems to withstand future impacts of climate change. Read the rest of this entry »
Reflections from the interface between seismological research and disaster risk reduction
Dr Susanne Sargeant, British Geological Survey
Monday 10th February 2014, 1 – 2 pm
W010, Geography, Durham University
The Port Hills rockfall problem
The Port Hills area on the edge of Christchurch was very seriously affected by the Christchurch earthquake sequence. The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority will today start the process of demolishing the rockfall affected houses in the Port Hills area. Yesterday they released a statement describing the challenges of this work; this statement is well-covered in an article in The Press, which also includes a nice video taken by a drone of some of the sites. A couple of years ago I visited many of these sites, and I have an old post that presents some of the images that I collected. As a reminder, this is typical of the state of some of the buildings at the top of the slopes on the Port Hills: