The Snowballing Effect of Repeat Disasters

Understanding Resilience History

We are living in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Some changes can be easily noticed. Business disruption, caused by the technologies that underpin the revolution, are visible across all industries. Other impacts, such as a risk of social inequality, are subtler, and their effects will not be apparent for some time.

Four hundred years ago, in the middle of another transformative period now referred to as the Scientific Revolution, a simple concept called resilience appeared.

Today, resilience is a significant area of interest in a range of fields, from human psychology and ecological systems, to organisational performance and natural disasters.  Understanding the evolution of the concept is the first step towards building a ’no regrets resilience strategy’, essential for both personal and societal sustainability and thriving in the face of complex disruptions and disturbances. 

The Global Resilience Collaborative’s Resilience Case Files is the first in a series of tools designed to help those seeking to define their future through resilience in the face of complex disruptions resulting from the Fourth Industrial Revolution…WATCH VIDEO

The Snowballing Effect of Repeat Disasters

Hurricane Irma tore a destructive path through many parts of the Caribbean, causing dozens of deaths and massive damage in the West Indies and the Virgin Islands in September 2017. The storm spared Puerto Rico then, but later, when category five Hurricane Maria hit, it caused $90 billion in damages mainly for Puerto Rico.

And that wasn’t the end of the country’s tribulations. Puerto Rico suffered from a drought in 2018 and then an earthquake in 2020. Hurricane Maria’s destruction overshadowed the latter catastrophes, but many people outside of Puerto Rico aren’t aware the drought and earthquake continued to exacerbate the suffering and destruction experienced on the ground.

“You have to understand the legacy conditions created by the first disaster to prepare to deal with the second disaster,” says Gary Machlis, a professor of environmental sustainability at Clemson University.

Disaster response and damage assessments typically analyze catastrophes in isolation. But researchers are now trying to change this approach to dealing with catastrophe…READ ON

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