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john c. mutter

An economic argument for reframing the geoscientist's role in disaster mitigation

Geoscientists don’t often weigh in on the long-term societal implications of the natural disasters they study — but perhaps they should. Thinking about disasters in the same way economists do might help them do more good.
14 May 2017

Voices: From Haiti to Japan: A tale of two disaster recoveries

A year ago this month, a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan. Two years and two months earlier, on Jan. 12, 2010, a much smaller earthquake devastated Haiti. Both earthquakes occurred on a weekday and in the afternoon, but there is very little else that is similar about these two events or how the countries have recovered.

09 Mar 2012

Voices: The confounding economics of natural disasters

In the hours (not days) after the enormous earthquake hit Japan on March 11, before it was even known that the Fukushima power plant had been badly disabled and well before the scope of the mortality and damage had been assessed, the Japanese yen rapidly appreciated in value. The G7 nations moved to quickly stabilize the yen — not to prevent it from falling, but to prevent it from further appreciating.

28 Apr 2011

Voices: Should science dictate whether to rebuild after a natural disaster?

Move Port-au-Prince? Maybe. San Francisco and New Orleans? Never.

It is common for scientists to call for the relocation of a city to a safer location after it is struck by an earthquake or hurricane. After all, when many cities were built, the nature of the hazard they faced was either unknown or very poorly understood. This is true whether we’re talking about San Francisco, Calif., New Orleans, La., or Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Now that we know the hazards, is it time to relocate a city in a dangerous locale? Port-au-Prince? Yes. San Francisco and New Orleans? No.

24 Feb 2010