May 18-19, 1995
Gus A. Koehler, PhD.
Louise K. Comfort
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs
University of Pittsburgh
Historically, disasters have been regarded as intensely destructive events that occur rarely and can only be explained as "acts of God." Historical record, however, reveals disasters to be recurring phenomena that test the fitness of the existing designed environment to its natural, physical conditions. The record also shows the incidence of reported disasters to be increasing in the world, with a mounting toll in lives and resources. Rather than isolated, freak events, disasters appear to be the direct manifestation of the growing interdependence of our technical and social systems (Perrow, 1984), and simultaneously, our lack of conscious efforts to adapt these systems more effectively to the constraints and risks of the natural environment.
Next Chapter: SELF ORGANIZING PROCESSES IN DISASTER
Return to table of contents