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Disaster by Choice: How our actions turn natural hazards into catastrophes

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We feel the need to fight natural forces, to reclaim what we assume is ours, and to protect ourselves from what we perceive to be wrath from outside our communities. This attitude distracts us from the real causes of disasters: humanity's decisions, as societies and as individuals. This attitude distracts us from the real causes of disasters: humanity’s decisions, as societies and as individuals. I am typing this review in the aftermath of property-damaging floods in the UK and life-taking wildfires in Australia, and during the Covid-19 pandemic. Dr Christian Busch has spent a decade exploring how unexpected encounters can enhance our worldview, expand our social circles and create new opportunities.

In this provocative book, Ilan Kelman argues that the true disaster is not caused by natural phenomena, but by human choices which leave people unprepared and at terrible risk. effective human action that limits damage, such as managing flooding in Toronto and villages in Bangladesh, or wildfires in Colorado. This is an excellent little book that crystallises ideas about the influence and impact of human actions on natural catastrophes into a thoughtful and informative narrative, concluding - and rightly so - that there is no such thing as a natural disaster. But we can combat this, as Kelman shows, describing inspiring examples ofeffective human action that limits damage, such as managing flooding in Toronto and villages in Bangladesh, or wildfires in Colorado. Disaster by Choice demonstrates in a vivid and engaging way why big issues like the current climate crisis, where people are starting to accept that their actions can contribute to a collective result on a global scale, are just the tip of the iceberg.An] engaging book filled with rich examples and details of specific historical events Kelmans succinct and generally lucid account of the state of knowledge within the field, will likely be useful to a wide range of readers.

Ilan Kelman is Professor of Disasters and Health at University College London, England and a Professor II at the University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway. They develop from the social preference to blame nature for the damage wrought, when in fact events such as earthquakes and storms are entirely commonplace environmental processes.In ‘Firmament’, atmospheric scientist and science communicator Simon Clark offers a rare and accessible tour of the ins and outs of the atmosphere and how we know what we know about it. Indigenous people in northern Sweden experience the mental health impact of losing their land, heritage, and livelihood. He explores the science – and ethics – of genetic engineering and its potential to create ‘designer babies’. A new scientific study explores how youth’s disaster-coping strategies can lead to maladjustment or adjustment.

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