Natural Disasters / Edition 1

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As a well balanced and fully illustrated introductory text, this book provides a comprehensive overview of the physical, technological and social components of natural disaster. The main disaster-producing agents are reviewed systematically in terms of geophysical processes and effects, monitoring, mitigation and warning. The relationship between disasters and society is examined with respect to a wide variety of themes, including damage assessment and prevention, hazard mapping, emergency preparedness, the provision of shelter and the nature of reconstruction. Medical emergencies and the epidemiology of disasters are described, and refugee management and aid to the Third World are discussed. A chapter is devoted to the sociology, psychology, economics and history of disasters.; In many parts of the world the toll of death, injury, damage and deprivation caused by natural disasters is becoming increasingly serious. Major earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, droughts, floods and other similar catastrophes are often followed by large relief operations characterized by substantial involvement of the international community. The years 1990-2000 have therefore been designated by the United Nations as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.; The book goes beyond mere description and elevates the field of natural catastrophes to a serious academic level. The author's insights and perspectives are also informed by his practical experience of being a disaster victim and survivor, and hence the unique perspective of a participant observer. Only by surmounting the boundaries between disciplines can natural catastrophe be understood and mitigation efforts made effective. Thus, this book is perhaps the first completely interdisciplinary, fully comprehensive survey of natural hazards and disasters. It has a clear theoretical basis and it recognizes the importance of six fundamental approaches to the field, which it blends carefully in the text in order to avoid the partiality of previous works. It covers the earth and social sciences, as well as engineering, architecture and development studies. This breadth is made possible by virtue of a strong emphasis on simple principles of the interaction of geophysical agents with human vulnerability and response.; All students of environmental sciences/studies and geography should find this book useful. It is an introductory text which treats this dramatic subject area as something demanding serious academic treatment and not just as an assemblage of horror stories.; This book is intended for undergraduate students in geography and environmental studies/sciences. The book should also appeal to any professional or researcher concerned with man- environment relations, whether in social science or natural science or engineering.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
' This book sets the standard and will be the classic work against which newcomers will be judged.....the best single available text for courses in disaster studies in disciplines from anthropology and sociology to geology, geography, and the atmospheric sciences.'
Ian Burton, Environment Canada
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780412047411
  • Publisher: Springer Netherlands
  • Publication date: 9/1/1993
  • Edition description: 1999
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 632
  • Product dimensions: 1.50 (w) x 6.14 (h) x 9.21 (d)

Meet the Author

David Alexander is in the Department of Geology and Geography at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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Table of Contents

List of tables
1 Introduction 1
The global problem 1
Definitions and basic concepts 4
Misconceptions about natural disaster 16
Time and space in disaster 20
Formulating intensity measures 26
2 Earthquakes and volcanoes 42
The physical nature of earthquakes 42
Predicting earthquakes 57
The human impact of seismic hazards 72
The lessons of recent events 74
Tsunamis 80
Volcanic eruptions 90
3 Atmospheric and hydrological hazards 120
Floods 120
Drought 144
Hurricanes 154
Tornadoes 170
Lightning 183
Hailstorms 184
Avalanches 185
Glacier hazards 200
Snow as a hazard to the urban system 201
Frost hazards 206
4 Disasters and the land surface 217
Soil erosion 217
Desertification 235
Landslides 242
Seismically generated landslides 266
Subsidence 276
Soil hazards 286
Coastal erosion 287
Forest and range fires 296
5 Damage and the built environment 316
Earthquake damage 316
Costing and surveying damage 327
Buildings, structures and public safety 333
Hazards and the urban environment 340
High-rise buildings in disaster 350
Dam disasters 356
6 The logistics of planning and emergency action 374
Disaster and hazard mapping 374
Remote sensing and disasters 383
Models of disaster and their practical uses 392
Disaster warning 400
Planning for disasters 406
Disasters and the mass media 416
Emergency management 418
Emergency shelter 432
Recovery and reconstruction after disaster 444
7 Medical emergencies 461
Death and injury 464
Disease rates 482
8 The Third World 495
Disasters in developing countries 495
Famine and starvation 503
Refugees 516
The impact of floods upon developing countries 523
The case of Bangladesh 532
9 Disasters and socio-economic systems 554
The sociology of disasters 554
Disaster psychology 560
Perception of natural hazards and disasters 570
Risk assessment and management 574
Problems of rational hazard management 579
The economics of disasters 582
An historical perspective 593
10 Towards an international strategy against disasters 612
The lessons of disaster 612
National policy and disasters 613
The International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction 616
Index 621
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