Drought - Fire - Flood Email Forum

RE: It's All Connected

Len Wright (
Tue, 31 Oct 2000 10:34:37 -0700

Maybe the best place to begin to understand the field of natural hazards for
the lay person is to look at their own insurance. Life, auto, home,
medical, as well as flood and fire insurance are all based on the premise of
spreading cost and risk across a group of individuals. Maybe this year your
house did not burn down but your premiums where paid out to someone who did
suffer losses. The simple and not so simple trade-offs between dollars and
risk become apparent.

Then there is the physical nature of natural hazards and the associated
jargon of the people who study them, e.g. floodplains, floodways, riparian
habitat etc. The Basin website is a great place to start for this

Beyond this is the sociological side of hazards, how society mitigates
losses due to hazards, how social and political systems, and policies may
promote risky behavior, perceived risk vs. actual risk etc. The natural
hazards center at CU is the international leader in this area as an
information clearing house for practitioners and researchers. They have a
great website (link from Basin website). This is a tremendously broad
field, with lots of jargon. The interactions between policy, personal and
social behavior and physical phenomena are complex. For example, an
engineering solution to "control" flooding may give the impression that a
developed area is less at risk from flooding. This encourages development
and actually may increase the ultimate losses when the engineered solution
does fail (like when a levee is breached). This is an oversimplified
example, but you can see that to develop policy that is environmentally and
economically sound, promotes safe behavior and is equitable across various
economic strata is a non-trivial problem to say the least.

Between the Basin website and the Natural Hazards website I can't imagine
that a person wishing to learn more would ever run out of reading material.
Also a book recently published by Dennis Mileti (Director of the Hazards
Center) "Disasters by Design" covers many issues of sustainability and
disasters, with plenty of recommendations for the new century. Hope that
helps - Len Wright

-----Original Message-----
[]On Behalf Of Judith Sumner
Sent: Tuesday, October 31, 2000 8:47 AM
To: MM;
Subject: Re: It's All Connected

I've enjoyed being a 'lurking' lay person in this forum. I'm learning a lot
by listening in on the discussion. A question occurs to me: What would
constitute a basic level of drought/fire/flood literacy for the general
public, and how might that be accomplished? What are the key concepts,
terminology and issues that the general public should understand?

Judith A. Sumner
3500 Hayden Pl, #5
Boulder, CO 80301
----- Original Message -----
From: MM <>
To: <>
Sent: Friday, October 27, 2000 9:38 AM
Subject: It's All Connected

> These issues of drought, fire and flood obviously overlap to some extent
> and ultimately are all connected. We've posted some thoughts on the
> interconnectivity for you to consider at:
> During the Walker Ranch fire last month there was concern at one point
> that the chemicals in the slurry (specifically cyanide) used to try to
> retard the fire's progress could impact the water of South Boulder
> Creek, which is a source of drinking water for Louisville and Lafayette.
> Donna Scott of the city of Boulder, who has helped organize a
> multi-agency look at the aftermath of the Walker Ranch Fire and possible
> impact on water quality, has put together a summary at:
> What are your thoughts on these complex issues where trying to deal with
> one problem can create another problem?
> Mark McCaffrey
> See for more information on this

See for more information on this

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