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International decade for natural disaster reduction

January 1, 1990

Throughout history, humanity has found itself in conflict with naturally occurring events of geologic, hydrologic, and atmospheric origin. this conflict has been demonstrated repeatedly when people build urban centers at the water's edge, in or near active fault systems capable of generating earthquakes, on steep slopes, near active volcanoes, or at the urban-wilderness interface prone to wildfires. Naturally occurring, recurrent events such as floods, windstorms, tsunamis, earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires have tested human-engineered works many times and have often found them unable to withstand the forces generated by the event. In the past 20 years, for example, events like these throughout the world have claimed more than 2.8 million lives and adversely affected 820 million people; single disasters have caused economic losses of billions of dollars. Industrialized countries like the United States and Japan have been able to absorb the socioeconomic losses of past natural disasters, but the economics of many developing countries have been devastated by losses equal to a large percentage of their gross national product. Furthermore, the magnitude of the losses is increasing at a rapid rate as the building wealth of nations is expanded to meet the needs of rapidly increasing population, often without adequate consideration of the potential threat posed by the recurrent natural hazards and without implementing effective loss-reduction measures because of lack of knowledge or lack of technical capability. 

Citation Information

Publication Year 1990
Title International decade for natural disaster reduction
Authors W. W. Hays
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)
Index ID 70162671
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse