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The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters
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Basic Books 2016
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We can't stop natural disasters but we can stop them being disastrous. One of the world's foremost risk experts tells us how.
Year after year, floods wreck people's homes and livelihoods, earthquakes tear communities apart, and tornadoes uproot whole towns. Natural disasters cause destruction and despair. But does it have to be this way?
In The Cure for Catastrophe, global risk expert Robert Muir-Wood argues that our natural disasters are in fact human ones: We build in the wrong places and in the wrong way, putting brick buildings in earthquake country, timber ones in fire zones, and coastal cities in the paths of hurricanes. We then blindly trust our flood walls and disaster preparations, and when they fail, catastrophes become even more deadly. No society is immune to the twin dangers of complacency and heedless development.
Recognizing how disasters are manufactured gives us the power to act. From the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 to Hurricane Katrina, The Cure for Catastrophe recounts the ingenious ways in which people have fought back against disaster. Muir-Wood shows the power and promise of new predictive technologies, and envisions a future where information and action come together to end the pain and destruction wrought by natural catastrophes. The decisions we make now can save millions of lives in the future.
Buzzing with political plots, newfound technologies, and stories of surprising resilience, The Cure for Catastrophe will revolutionize the way we conceive of catastrophes: though natural disasters are inevitable, the death and destruction are optional. As we brace ourselves for deadlier cataclysms, the cure for catastrophe is in our hands.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Edition:
1
Street Date:
09/06/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781541698314, 9780465096473
ASIN:
B01DWWR5BO

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APA Citation (style guide)

Robert Muir-Wood. (2016). The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters. 1 Basic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Robert Muir-Wood. 2016. The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters. Basic Books.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Robert Muir-Wood, The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters. Basic Books, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Robert Muir-Wood. The Cure for Catastrophe: How We Can Stop Manufacturing Natural Disasters. 1 Basic Books, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.

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      • bioText: Robert Muir Wood is the chief research officer of Risk Management Solutions and a visiting professor at University College London's Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. He is the founding editor of the magazine Terra Nova and has published several books. He lives in London, United Kingdom.
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fullDescription
We can't stop natural disasters but we can stop them being disastrous. One of the world's foremost risk experts tells us how.
Year after year, floods wreck people's homes and livelihoods, earthquakes tear communities apart, and tornadoes uproot whole towns. Natural disasters cause destruction and despair. But does it have to be this way?
In The Cure for Catastrophe, global risk expert Robert Muir-Wood argues that our natural disasters are in fact human ones: We build in the wrong places and in the wrong way, putting brick buildings in earthquake country, timber ones in fire zones, and coastal cities in the paths of hurricanes. We then blindly trust our flood walls and disaster preparations, and when they fail, catastrophes become even more deadly. No society is immune to the twin dangers of complacency and heedless development.
Recognizing how disasters are manufactured gives us the power to act. From the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 to Hurricane Katrina, The Cure for Catastrophe recounts the ingenious ways in which people have fought back against disaster. Muir-Wood shows the power and promise of new predictive technologies, and envisions a future where information and action come together to end the pain and destruction wrought by natural catastrophes. The decisions we make now can save millions of lives in the future.
Buzzing with political plots, newfound technologies, and stories of surprising resilience, The Cure for Catastrophe will revolutionize the way we conceive of catastrophes: though natural disasters are inevitable, the death and destruction are optional. As we brace ourselves for deadlier cataclysms, the cure for catastrophe is in our hands.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        June 13, 2016
        Muir-Wood, chief research officer at Risk Management Solutions, exhaustively chronicles modern history’s natural disasters and humankind’s evolving—if erratic—responses to them. Catastrophes such as the 1755 Lisbon earthquake were once interpreted as “acts of fate,” but centuries of meteorological, engineering, and economic research have ushered in “the modern social understanding of disasters and the practical scientific approach to disaster risk reduction.” Recent decades have seen significant post-disaster advancements in the fields of architecture, insurance, forecasting, and probabilistic “catastrophe modeling.” But Muir-Wood contends that there remain enormous impediments to managing natural disasters: namely, the rise in these events as a result of climate change, the increasingly devastating consequences in a world where “the number of people and buildings in harm’s way keeps rising,” and the prevalence of human denial and bureaucratic negligence. In his meticulous reportage on a number of environmental calamities over the past 300 years, the author offers a cautionary map of the route we took to arrive at this vital geologic moment. The path forward should entail “both disaster policy and disaster culture,” Muir-Wood argues: a governing body and a motivated global community that will collaboratively and inventively undertake the management of inevitable catastrophes. Agent: Alex Christofi, Conville & Walsh.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Starred review from July 15, 2016
        A fascinating examination of the "forensics of disasters."Common sense teaches that advancing technology will reduce harm from hurricanes, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, and fires, but the opposite is happening, writes Muir-Wood (Earthquakes and Volcanoes, 1987, etc.), founding editor of Terra Nova and chief research officer of Risk Management Solutions, in this sensible polemic that warns that matters will continue to deteriorate unless big changes happen. "Disasters are determined by what we build, where we choose to live, how we prepare, and how we communicate warnings," writes the author, who ably explores the history of disasters and their many commonalities. For centuries, the oldest natural disaster, fire, dwarfed all others, especially in cities. Brick and stone don't burn, but wood is much cheaper, so vast city fires occurred regularly. Then, after 1900, they vanished with the development of low-cost concrete poured around a metal skeleton. Adding sophisticated engineering protects against earthquakes. However, there is always a trade-off. People often build to resist common catastrophes and pray the others stay away. Cheap concrete structures in Haiti resisted hurricanes but not the rare earthquake. Governments pass building codes--only helpful if strictly enforced, which is not always the case--and offer heavily subsidized insurance, a dreadful policy that encourages people to live in hazardous areas. A simple disaster preventive is to make property owners pay the true cost of insurance. In a rare bipartisan action, the 2012 Congress did just that. Premiums skyrocketed, voters in flood plains and exposed beaches expressed outrage, and Congress quickly reversed itself. Readers will find it hard to stop reading this excellent book and will share the author's perhaps futile yearning that elected officials have the courage to pass inconvenient laws and spend the electorate's money to prevent disasters.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        July 1, 2016

        In an era when natural disasters seem to be worsening, there may be solutions to rising death tolls and growing refugee populations. In this astute work, Muir-Wood (chief research officer, Risk Management Solutions; The Dark Side of the Earth) proposes that if we change certain habits, such as using building materials that are ill-suited for places with frequent catastrophes, we might prevent the very tragedies we claim destroy lives. The author examines how this history of human folly spawned disaster and catastrophe insurance and disaster journalism, which in turn led to some well-known, if controversial, concepts, such as the Richter Scale. He also shows how when forced to produce answers (for instance, if unable or unwilling to leave disaster-prone areas), humans have come up with ingenious ways to ride out or escape the storms. When facing future events, if we learn from the past, more lives might be saved. VERDICT Readers interested in natural disasters, climate change, and weather will be riveted by this comprehensive account of emergency management.--Venessa Hughes, Buffalo, NY

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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We can't stop natural disasters but we can stop them being disastrous. One of the world's foremost risk experts tells us how.
Year after year, floods wreck people's homes and livelihoods, earthquakes tear communities apart, and tornadoes uproot whole towns. Natural disasters cause destruction and despair. But does it have to be this way?
In The Cure for Catastrophe, global risk expert Robert Muir-Wood argues that our natural disasters are in fact human ones: We build in the wrong places and in the wrong way, putting brick buildings in earthquake country, timber ones in fire zones, and coastal cities in the paths of hurricanes. We then blindly trust our flood walls and disaster preparations, and when they fail, catastrophes become even more deadly. No society is immune to the twin dangers of complacency and heedless development.
Recognizing how disasters are manufactured gives us the power to act. From the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 to Hurricane...
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