Inderscience Publishers

Chapter 1 - natural and human-made disasters

Natural disasters, or "Acts of God", according to conventional wisdom, are unpredictable and unpreventable, whereas human-made disasters, or "Acts of Man", are taken to be both predictable and preventable. Furthermore, "Acts of Man", are perceived as more catastrophic and destructive than "Acts of God". The fact is, these commonly accepted perceptions, along with our understanding of the relationship between "natural" and "human-made" disasters, deserve a critical re-evaluation. Many disasters, although triggered by natural events such as floods and earthquakes, are increasingly man-made, and hence are both predictable and preventable. Likewise, certain human-made disasters cannot be so easily classified as "predictable" or "preventable", due to certain factors that render human beings incapable of rationally assessing either the decisions they make, or the consequences of their actions. We shall address these questions in this opening chapter by looking at examples of "natural" and "human-made" disasters.

Keywords: natural disasters, human-made disasters

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