Extreme Weather and Water-Related Disasters: A Key Issue for the Sustainability and Survivability of Our Society
Kaoru Takara and Haruo Hayashi
1. Extreme Weather and Water-Related Disasters
Extreme weather events frequently take place in many parts of the world, causing various kinds of water-related disasters such as windstorms, floods, high tides, debris flows, droughts, and water-quality issues. This is a key issue for the sustainability and survivability of our society.
The Asian and Pacific region is one of the most disaster-prone areas in the world. It is very adversely affected by natural hazards such as cyclones and typhoons and tsunami caused by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions under the sea. These natural hazards bring severe disasters to all countries in the region where social change, in terms of population and economic growth, is the most dynamic in the world.
Growth in this region of the world has not, however, led to advances in disaster risk management. The situation is getting worse because infrastructure development cannot keep up with growth. Policies for poverty reduction and alleviation are insufficient and the difference between being rich and being poor is increasing.
Vulnerable populations are often those hit worst by hazards and disasters. As the world’s cities expand to occupy ever greater portions of the world’s flood plains, riversides and shorelines, the risk of flooding will continue to outpace both structural and nonstructural mitigation efforts.
“A natural hazard strikes when persons lose their memory of the previous one.” This quotation is from Dr. Torahiko Terada (1878-1935), a former Professor of the University of Tokyo who influenced many Japanese persons as an educator, physicist and philosopher. Persons tend to forget bad memories if they do not experience a similar event for a long time. This lack of experience and ignorance increases the vulnerability of society to disasters.