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Risk and resilience in Japan after the Fukushima disaster

Oli Usher22 November 2013

Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2. Credit: TEPCO

Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2. Credit: TEPCO

There is no amount of concrete that could have kept people safe from the 2011 Japanese tsunami – and in any case, the height of the wave could never have been predicted. But learning the right lessons from past disasters, along with a helping hand from technology, could help keep us safer in the future.

That was the message delivered by Prof Peter Sammonds (UCL Institute of Risk & Disaster Reduction) in Tuesday’s Lunch Hour Lecture.

Japan is, in many ways, an ideal place to learn from in the field of natural disasters. A prosperous, well-governed and highly educated nation, it also has a long history of dealing with natural hazards, particularly earthquakes and tsunamis. The successes and failures of disaster management in Japan over the past century offer a rich vein of data for researchers like him to mine.

The key lesson, he argued, is to understand the complexity of disasters and how one calamitous event can cascade in fundamentally unpredictable ways.

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Gender and disasters: what causes the risk gap?

news editor15 March 2013

pencil-iconWritten by Dr Joanna P Faure Walker, UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction.

Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, following 2011 earthquake courtesy of Tex Texin on Flickr

Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, following the 2011 earthquake
(courtesy of Tex Texin on Flickr)

On Friday 8 March 2013, the UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction hosted an open panel discussion on ‘Gender and Disasters’.

The panel was chaired by Dr Ellie Lee (Reader in Social Policy and expert in gender issues from the University of Kent), and comprised: Paula Albrito (Head of the Regional Office for Europe for the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction), David Alexander (Professor in Risk and Disaster Reduction, IRDR UCL), and Linda O’Halloran (Director of NGO Thinking Development).

The three panellists provided examples of various natural disasters in which women showed a greater risk to the event than men either through active discrimination or through pre-existing factors.

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Bill’s Hay Festival blog

news editor8 June 2012

Professor Bill McGuire, UCL Earth Sciences

Literary festivals are always fantastic experiences; brimful of excitement, debate, discussion and the simple fun of meeting and interacting with a remarkable diversity of movers, shakers and shapers of society and culture.

The Hay Festival is unquestionably right at the top of the pile and looking down the list of a thousand or so participants, it quickly becomes apparent that it’s not so much a question of who is here but who is not.

An eclectic mix
Where else can you – as I did during my visit – chat with crime writer Ian Rankin in the afternoon, joke with Winnie the Witch children’s author – Korky Paul – over dinner, and have breakfast with 2007 Turner Prize winner Mark Wallinger?

Fun as this all was, however, I did have a job to do, and was down to speak at lunchtime about my new book: Waking the Giant: How a Changing Climate Triggers Earthquakes, Tsunamis and Volcanoes.

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The Earth Bites Back – Professor Bill McGuire’s Lunch Hour Lecture

Carly Schnabl11 March 2011

Can climate transitions trigger potentially hazardous geological responses such as tsunamis, landslides, earthquakes and volcanic activity? It would appear so.

UCL alumna Mel Green reports from Professor Bill McGuire’s Lunch Hour Lecture, 3 March, on the hard facts of climate change and the possible link to catastrophic geological events.
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