Adoption and Implementation of Hazard Adjustments Part One: An Assessment of Existing Research

November 1997 (VOL. 15, NO. 3)

Download this article

Natural hazards have a continuing potential for causing casualties, property destruction, and economic disruption. Reducing these risks involves a complex process of adopting and implementing a variety of hazard adjustments by a wide range of stakeholders in the community. The underlying dynamics of this three component system — hazard is a function of the physical environmental system and the human use system as moderated by hazard adjustments — have been recognized by hazards researchers for decades (e.g., Burton, Kates and White 1978; Mileti 1980; White 1974). As indicated in Figure 1, meteorological and geophysical extremes of the physical environment affect the social system, which consists of a variety of stakeholders who interact through a variety of different processes. In turn, society invests in the hazard adjustment system, which consists of four different types of risk reduction measures.\r\nThis model is transactional because it emphasizes the relationships among the different components. The dominant transaction between extremes in the physical environment and societal stakeholders is the risk of disaster impacts, while the corresponding transaction between stakeholders and hazard adjustments is resource allocation or cost. The transaction between adjustments and environmental extremes is efficacy (i.e., the degree to which adjustments reduce the hazard risks). It is important to note that these are the dominant transactions with respect to natural hazard risk reduction, not the only transactions.\r\n