Monday, July 30, 2012

Beijing disaster necessitates risk analysis

Liu Tao in China. org: In our country, which is famous for its ability to mobilize, we have always been able to recover from the deadliest of natural disasters with coordinated rescue efforts and national unity. However, most people cannot believe that a tragedy like the recent Beijing floods could happen in a super-modern city - the core area of our nation, during the recent unexpected rainstorm.

The rainstorm in Beijing caught people off guard, reflecting that our city infrastructure and disaster prevention capabilities are lagging behind, and our risk prevention strategies cannot match the pace of our cities' rapid pace of development.

...German sociologist Ulrich Beck affirmed that modern society is a risk-oriented society. In the pre-modern era, as people were mainly living in the countryside, social risk was also decentralized. Only during the process of modern industrialization, when people started to migrate to the industrial centers and formed ultra-large cities, social risk started to become centralized around urban areas.

With the centralization of the population, cities are facing not only facing the increasing threats of industrial pollution, environmental deterioration and a rise in crime rates, but also are more prone to natural disasters, civil unrest and terrorism.

Geographic location and level of infrastructure development largely affects a city or region's flood risk. Places at lower altitude, regions with underdeveloped infrastructure or urban-rural fringe zones can be considered severe-risk areas. Therefore, we need to conduct detailed risk evaluations of urban areas and their surroundings. The evaluation should be based on the "urban risk structure" and "risk probability" and cover every region to eradicate the blind spots. Relevant quantitative research and statistical models for risk management also need to be established....

Beijing, viewed by NASA's Landsat satellite

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