By Jamie Griswold for My Northwest .com
“For me, I feel like being prepared for a natural disaster primarily is just being responsible,” said Jason Pedwell, a manager in a legal services company from Sammamish, who admits he falls under the title “prepper,” but said he doesn’t often advertise it.”
“I think if there’s any place in the world that was well prepared, even perhaps more prepared than we are here (the US – Ed), it’s Japan. They have a strong infrastructure, and this place, they had cities wiped off the map. Seventeen- thousand people died, a million and a half people were displaced for months without food and water. Fortunately, the world sort of rallied together and supported that effort,” said Pedwell.
For the whole article, follow the link.
The Copenhagen Consensus Centre has released a Challenge Paper on Natural Disasters, penned by Howard Kunreuther and Erwann Michel-Kerjan and distributed through CopenhagenConsensus.com
Summary. Downloadable PDF available below.
“In recent years, the world has experienced a series of truly devastating natural disasters that have taken many lives and triggered unprecedented economic losses. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in the United States, the 2010 massive floods in Australia and the 2011 earthquake/tsunami in Japan, among other events, have demonstrated that even the most wealth and well prepared countries can experience large-scale damage and destruction when natural disasters strike.
The situation is much worse in low-income countries since they often do not have the financial means to protect their population and economy against catastrophes. In addition, building codes are lacking or not well enforced and the infrastructure is often poorly designed for disseminating information prior to a disaster, and assisting victims in a timely manner after its occurrence. The earthquake in Haiti in 2010 illustrates the challenges of an unprepared and poor country…
…First, the authors propose designing schools that can withstand earthquakes to reduce damage and the number of fatalities to children, teachers and other staff. Retrofitting the schools in all 35 most-exposed countries around the world would save the lives of 250,000 individuals over the next 50 years. Costs obviously vary from country to country: in the Solomon Islands it would cost just $36 million to retrofit schools while the cumulative total benefits are $235 million, yielding a benefit/cost ratio (BCR) greater than 6. In Afghanistan and Myanmar the costs would be $698 million and $1,570 million, respectively, with a benefit of about five times the amount invested.”
Brought to you by the Washington Post.
NEW ORLEANS — In one of the neighborhoods hit hardest by flooding in Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath, developers have built a prototype house that’s aimed at providing a quick housing solution for areas blown away by hurricanes and tornadoes or knocked down by earthquakes.
For more (and images) follow the link.
The Times newspaper had two illuminating Opinion articles today (2.1.12). The first was written by Richard Ward, the chief executive of Lloyd’s of London, and titled ’That was the year that cost us $350 billion’, the second titled ’Tick the box marked Personal Responsibility’ and written by David Wighton. They both add to the points that Worst Case Scenario is concerned about and stands for. Here’s a summary: The italics are my additions.
(Richard Ward) 2011 will go down in our collective memory as one of almost permanent turmoil. Floods, earthquakes, nuclear accidents, riots, regime changes. All of these figured prominently in the headlines throughout the year, not to mention the still looming global economic crisis or the still reverberating echoes of previous disasters such as Haiti or New Orleans. 2011 has the dubious title of the highest monetary losses due to catastrophe in history: $350 billion – $350,000,000,000. Put it this way, at 28 I have not been alive even 1 billion seconds, and if I was to put a pound in a jar every second from the day of my birth to the day of my retirement at 75, my children would have to take on the responsibility to take it to a single billion. That’s a lot of money lost to catastrophe, a lot of it uninsured.
2011 rolled into town with the Queensland floods in Australia, killing 35 and turning 75% of QLD into a ‘no-mans land’. Only $2.5bn of the $7bn was insured. QLD then faced Cyclone Yasi while New Zealand had massive earthquakes to deal with in February. In fact the entire Pacific rim – dubbed the Ring of Fire – faced upheavals in 2011, most notably with the earthquake and tsunami off Fukashima leading to the disastrous explosions at the Fukashima nuclear plant that is still spilling radiation into the ocean and environment. Over the course of the year, 1,600 hurricanes and tornados raged across the United States, with Hurricane Irene crushing businesses across the states. Bringing the year to a close are the devastating floods in Thailand that have effectively closed the country for business and the tremors felt again in Christchurch, New Zealand. In all, 30,000 lives were lost in various disasters world wide.
Although few of these disasters affected the United Kingdom directly, who can forget the ’Arctic Blast’ that paralysed the Glasgow region of Scotland last year? Or the London riots and their spread across the country, fuelled by class rage and (probably) cheap spirits?
What must be examined by the individual that wants to plan ahead to survive catastrophe is that disasters are no longer a localised problem. Our increasing ‘global village’ and the push of world governments for yet more globalisation and the endless centralisation of power and resources means that if that a problem occurs in any area of supply or along supply routes, then we are in for trouble here as well. So far we have been lucky our greatest threats being only late product releases (cars for instance) and long waits for new or updated technology. However, it is not such a leap of the imagination to see similar delays, either accidental or malicious, for our essentials. Power, fuel and many food sources all come to the UK from overseas or are controlled by overseas companies. In a real crisis their responsibilities to the British public come very low on their list of priorities. Almost every shop on the High Street, excluding those that specifically selling ‘local goods’ rely on the international trade routes and logistic infrastructure, a web of variables that is only as strong as its weakest link.
2012 has begun with the threat of global recession, various military campaigns overseas, social unrest in Middle Eastern countries, concern over freak weather ruining crops, even radiation in space bringing our communication systems to a grinding halt. Businesses can hope for the best, but should plan for the worst. So should we all.
(David Wighton) Don’t we just love it when we read of somebody buggering up a simple task because they followed the rules rather than follow their initiative. People driving into lakes at the behest of their sat-nav or charging into a fight for deals at the start of the January sales, just because the goods are slightly cheaper? What of common sense we cry! Surely we wouldn’t ever do such a thing ourselves!
But we do, often. So many important and intelligent people that run and rule our world so commonly follow the rules of their profession, abandoning their reason in the process, and end up either making utter fools of themselves or making seriously destructive decisions. For example look at the stance taken by the majority of the worlds banks in the run up to the economic collapse of 2008. When all of the signs pointed towards what would become the crash, the banks instead of protecting their capital and their investors, ran full pelt at the crisis as if daring it to meet them in battle. Their risk management systems told them it was all going to be fine, so even though the facts told them otherwise and the wealth of experience in the financial industry said otherwise, they went with the data. They lost. The reverberations are still felt today, four years later.
In the UK we have become increasingly subservient to ’box-ticking’ culture, the absurd but all pervasive Standards That Must Be Met. Under the Labour rule our national and local government/councils became obsessed with targets, figures, regulations and standards. This damaged catastrophically the way that people related to their public figures. We soon became certain that our local council and local services – Police, Fire & Rescue etc – didn’t care about us, only about filling their quotas. Alternatively, they wanted to help us but were paralysed by regulations, health and ’bloody’ safety and the fear of being sued in a liability culture.
Eventually this became normalised, everybody was ticking boxes at work, metaphorically ticking boxes in their private lives (with no small assistance from lifestyle magazines) and had become used to the clerical box ticking of their services. We began to believe that if the boxes were ticked, all would be well. We would be safe, things could carry on and most of all, we wouldn’t be blamed if it all went wrong.
David Wighton then starts talking about banks and performance targets. It’s good reading but irrelevant to my points here. Follow the link to the original story at the end of this article.
It cannot be argued that a sense of regulation and the expectation of targets met is a help to our public and private sector industries. Without them there would be nothing to stop these industries slipping into corruption or ineffectiveness. However, this regulation should not come at the price of, or become more important than human personal responsibility.
Instead of living in the delusory state that tells us that ‘all will be well’ as long as the boxes are ticked, we need to re-establish our own sense of personal responsibility and take back our sense of moulding our own destiny. In the event of an actual crisis the massive majority of people will automatically have to depend on the government to drag them out of it. All of a sudden the government will be under a deluge of people that have become so dependent on their ministrations and handouts that they cannot survive without it, even when there isn’t an emergency to face! There is no way in the world that the UK government, who have proved laughably ineffective in various crises before, will be able to cope. Instead, martial law will be implemented, riots will erupt and people will die.
Do you want to be in the middle of that? You want to be another member of the starving, begging masses crying out to their hapless government for help? Or do you want to be strong in the face of adversity, prepared for what is coming, and a responsible member of a troubled society? I think I know the answer.
It doesn’t mean protesting, demonstrating and chanting that ‘they must do more’. It means that the time has come to take responsibility for your own safety. It is time to sacrifice a little in order to gain a lot in the future. It is time to man up and be ready.