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Physical and Environmental Geography

2013

Michael D. Cooper, Esq.

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Unnatural Disasters: Rethinking The Distinction Between Natural And Man-Made Catastrophe, Michael D. Cooper, Esq. Sep 2013

Unnatural Disasters: Rethinking The Distinction Between Natural And Man-Made Catastrophe, Michael D. Cooper, Esq.

Michael D. Cooper, Esq.

The distinction between “natural” and “man-made” disaster has grown increasingly difficult to defend. Our current conception conflates extreme natural events with the notion of disaster—an exclusively human construct. We define our cultural perception of “natural” disaster through three “man-made” constructs. First, our values alone characterize the scope and scale of loss. Second, our volition exacerbates otherwise benign natural hazards, exposes us to otherwise avoidable hazards, and, through technology, generates new and otherwise non-existent hazards. Finally, when natural hazards do unleash their destructive powers, pre-existing socio-economic inequalities manifest as vulnerabilities that ultimately determine both absolute and relative social outcomes and ...