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World Risk Report 2012, United Nations University

The 2012 WorldRiskReport from United Nations University, similar to the 2011 World Risk Index before it, provides detailed analyses and information about disaster risk for countries throughout the world, based on countries’ exposure to hazards and vulnerability.  A definitive example of this would be the 2011 6.3 mag earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand that led to the loss of 187 lives, while the 2010 Haiti 7.0 mag earthquake in comparison led to a death toll of 220,000.  The financial loss of both earthquakes was 16 billion USD and 8 billion USD respectively.  If you look at the rankings of both countries in the report (Haiti ranked at 21 (high risk) and New Zealand at 122) you begin to understand why.

Haiti has a vulnerability rating of 73.54 percent and an exposure rating of 16.26 percent while New Zealand with a similar exposure rating of 15.44 percent, but with far more infrastructure in place for dealing with earthquake hazards has a vulnerability rating of 28.77 percent.  New Zealand’s lack of capacity to adapt (30.39 percent) is also much lower than that of Haiti, which is 67.48 percent.  The lesson here is that while large-scale hazards cannot be prevented, losses can be reduced with adequate preparation and adaptive measures, however, this also takes time to implement and financial resources often unavailable in poorer countries. Read more

An official trailer of the documentary Chasing Ice that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival early this year is now available.  Chasing Ice could potentially get people thinking about climate change in new ways beyond modelling, charts and graphs and polarised debates about IPCC future climate projections and the existence of human-induced climate change itself.  This film could be politicised on multiple scales, yet it seems smart enough to stand on its own above the political squabbling.  But whether it will get large numbers of people to think about the Earth’s changing environments that we live in and the influence of climate change will be interesting to see.

It seems a subject-driven film meaning it is focused on the work of National Geographic photographer James Balog (who uses high res time-lapse cameras to capture stunning footage of glaciers in the arctic melting at astounding rates) rather than an expository or argument-based piece which was the case of An Inconvenient Truth that starred US former vice president Al Gore and was a catalyst for public awareness, skepticism and alarmism surrounding the science of climate change. Read more

Over the weekend some stunning imagery emerged of three recent landslides:

1. The Mount Lituya landslide in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Over the last few days this landslide , which of course I reported first on this blog, has received a fair amount of media coverage (and some rather peculiar hype about its size).  However, National Parks Traveler highlighted a video of the landslide shot by a local pilot who has flown up and down the landslide.  It is stunning, but you might want to turn off your computer’s sound system:

Read more

Art by Ben Tallon

IHRR’s Tipping Points project will be hosting a screening of the documentary Beyond the Tipping Point?, a film about how the metaphor ‘tipping point’ is used to frame discussion about climate change.  It is a thought-provoking documentary about how tipping point is used to convey the world’s response to the environmental impacts of climate change now and in the future.  It looks closely at how people understand climate change in society, exploring ethical questions about what can be done at an individual and community level about climate change and how people think about climate change in science and beyond.  The film will be followed by a panel discussion with researchers from the Tipping Points project: Prof Antony Long, Dr Pojanath Bhatanacharoen, Prof Pat Waugh and Prof Dave Petley. Read more

Hazard Risk Resilience Magazine Issue 2 Out Now!

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