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Evaluating the Source of the Risks Associated with Natural Hazards

Speaker: Colleen Murphy, Texas A&M University
Series: CEE Departmental Seminars
Location: Bowen Hall Auditorium
Date/Time: Tuesday, April 19, 2011, 4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.


Evaluations of the acceptability of risks posed by natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, and wind storms typically consider only the probability and consequences of a hazardous scenario.  This paper argues that the evaluation of a risk’s acceptability must also take into consideration the source of a risk.  The source of a risk refers to the actions which create and/or sustain risks.  In the context of natural hazards, the source of a risk refers to the construction and modification of the civil infrastructure and natural environment by engineers, which affect the probability of occurrence of natural events and the character and magnitude of the impact that such events have.  Evaluations of the source of such risks should be based on whether engineers meet a standard of reasonable care for civil systems and infrastructure.  I develop a standard of reasonable care for decisions about the built infrastructure and modified natural environment, which accounts for technical and resource constraints, as well as the place of natural hazard mitigation in public policy.