Hazards 1 The Concept of Hazard in a Geographical Context


Key Terms

  • Adaptation: the attempts by people or communities to live with hazard events. By adjusting their living conditions, people are able to reduce their levels of vulnerability.
  • Fatalism: a view of a hazard event that suggests that people cannot influence or shape the outcome. People with such an attitude put in place limited or no preventative measures. In some parts of the world, the outcome of a hazard event can be said to be ‘God’s will’.
  • Natural hazards: events which are perceived to be a threat to people, the built environment. They occur in the physical environments of the atmosphere, lithosphere and the hydrosphere
  • Perception: the way in which an individual or group views the threat of a hazard event. This will ultimately determine the course of action taken by individuals or the response they expect from the governments and other organisations.

The concept of a natural hazard and its potential impact

  • Natural hazard: a perceived event that threatens both the life and property
    • Volcanic activity, seismic activity, tropical storms
  • The risk can increase because:
    • Shanty tows on unstable tropical slopes
    • Urbanisation of volcanic zones
    • Live in areas with active faults
    • On coast susceptible to hurricanes and tsunamis
  • Common characteristics:
    • Origins are clear and effects are distinctive
    • Only have a short warning time before the event
    • Exposure to risk is involuntary in LICs
    • Most losses to life and damage to property occur shortly after the event, but the effects are felt in communities a long time after that
    • The scale and intensity requires an emergency response

Risk and Vulnerability

  • Risk: the exposure of people to a hazard event presenting a potential threat to themselves, their possessions and the built environment in which they live
  • Why people put themselves in risk:
    • Hazard events are unpredictable
    • Lack of alternatives
    • Changing level of risk
    • Cost benefit
    • Perception 
  • Differences in vulnerability:
    • Wealth: sea defences, earthquake resistant buildings, better emergency services, education
    • Levels of technology

The Perception of Natural Hazards:

  • Factors


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