301-005: Natural Disasters Jason Moore ([email protected]) Group: Physical & Natural Sciences COURSE DESCRIPTION Natural disasters have a profound and costly impact on humanity and so it is of great importance that we understand their causes so as to better protect against their effects. In this course we will learn about the causes of the major natural disasters (e.g. earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, wildfires, tornadoes, hurricanes, bolide impacts, etc.), the processes that influence their frequency and severity, their effects and ways to mitigate them, and our ability as scientists to predict them. We will contrast our knowledge of these hazards with their representations in the mass media. Finally, we will create a natural disaster hazard plan for a major global city to assess and quantify the natural risks to human life by location. READINGS Silver 2010 - The Signal and the Noise Gigerenzer 1996 - Reckoning with Risk Human Rights and Natural Disasters (Brooks-Bern Project Report) Mind the Risk (Swiss Re Disaster Insurance Report) A collection of articles from the scientific literature relevant to each studied disaster A collection of case studies describing the effects and recovery strategies from notable examples of each studied disaster FILMS, ETC. Excerpts from: Dante's Peak, Armageddon, Twister STUDENT REQUIREMENTS After a brief introduction considering science, natural disasters in general, and the manners in which we can assess risk, we will split the course into two-week blocks. During each block we will discuss a particular natural disaster, what controls its occurrence and severity, what impacts it might have on human populations, and how we might mitigate these impacts. For each disaster you will be required to calculate the risks to a particular major city, and your hometown. You will present on two of these during the course of the semester. You will have to submit a final natural disaster management plan for your city, stating the relative risks of each disaster, which you consider to be significant, and what steps should be taken to mitigate these risks. ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR Jason Moore received his Ph.D. from the Department of Earth Sciences at the University of Cambridge in 2006. Much of his research is concerned with the impact of major perturbations (for example natural disasters) on vertebrate faunas in the fossil record. Most recently he has been working on improving our understanding of the impact event commonly thought to have killed the dinosaurs.
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