The year 2014 is trending towards becoming the warmest year on record, with the temperatures through the first 10 months of 2014 being the warmest yet...Examining international hazards such as the typhoons that occurred in the western Pacific and earthquake activity around the world, it is clear that the reduction in natural hazard damage that the U.S. is currently experiencing is not the same worldwide. The temperature distribution on the planet is not uniform either, and much of the U.S. experienced extreme cold while temperatures in the remainder of the world balanced out. Australia did not experience any extreme bushfires, however, the Pacific experienced average to above- average cyclonic activity, and the normally benign Northern Indian Ocean basin experienced two intense cyclones. Additionally, extreme convective storm losses in Germany and Australia are a reminder of the loss potential of these powerful perils.This past year also saw the civil war in Syria escalate into the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of World War II. Millions of people are at risk there and in the surrounding region. The tragedy is that we can better prepare for natural disasters than we can for human-made disaster. At the same time, natural disasters have a bigger impact as population growth entices people to move into ever more risky environments, and human disasters are more likely as populations grow quickly in areas that don't really have the resources to support those numbers.
This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 12th (it came out in 2015), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Populations at Risk as 2014 Comes to an End
Several years ago I was part of a National Research Council committee that authored a report on populations at risk, providing input especially to the U.S. Census Bureau's International Programs and the U.S. State Department Geographer's office in terms of how to assess the number and characteristics of people at risk of injury from disasters of any particular kind. As the year ends, I was interested to see a report from CoreLogic in Irvine, California, summarizing natural disasters in the US and the rest of the world. [The report is available for free download after you register.] CoreLogic is a corporate data analysis firm and, full disclosure, I pay attention to it because my son-in-law is Senior VP of Finance and I know that he knows what he's doing. The report notes that the U.S. had fewer natural disasters last year than the year before, but the global picture is more complicated: