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HRD Disasters are not natural – Bath Spa University

Disasters are not natural - but don't blame climate change

Wednesday 25 January, 2023 – Wednesday 25 January, 2023
4:00 PM – 6:00 PM


Part of the Hazard, Risk and Disaster (HRD) Research Lecture Series 2022-23.

It has long been accepted in disaster research that we should avoid the phrase 'natural disaster'. Disasters are not usually the consequence of environmental phenomena, such as earthquakes and rainfall. Instead, we put ourselves and others in harm's way while failing to take measures which we know would prevent disasters, no matter what nature does. Disasters are not natural, because the causes are human values, attitudes, behaviour, and choices, typically when people with power and resources force others to be vulnerable. Now, human-caused climate change is being blamed for 'no natural disasters' even though it alters hazards while having little impact on vulnerabilities. With a few terrifyingly lethal exceptions, climate change does not cause the unnaturalness of disasters.

About the speaker

Ilan Kelman is Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London, England and a Professor II at the University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway. His overall research interest is linking disasters and health, integrating climate change into both. Three main areas are: (i) disaster diplomacy and health diplomacy; (ii) island sustainability involving safe and healthy communities in isolated locations; and (iii) risk education for health and disasters.

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