There is a widely acknowledged need for a single composite index that provides a comprehensive picture of the societal impact of disasters. A composite index combines and logically organizes important information policy-makers need to allocate resources for the recovery from natural disasters; it can also inform hazard mitigation strategies. This paper develops a Disaster Impact Index (DII) to gauge the societal impact of disasters on the basis of the changes in individuals’ capabilities. The DII can be interpreted (...) as the disaster impact per capita. Capabilities are dimensions of individual well-being and refer to the genuine opportunities individuals have to achieve valuable states and activities (such as being adequately nourished or being mobile). After discussing the steps required to construct the DII, this article computes and compares the DIIs for two earthquakes of similar magnitude in two societies at different levels of development and of two disasters (earthquake and wind storm) in the same society. (shrink)
This paper examines whether or not senior corporate executives are morally responsible for disasters which result from corporate activities. The discussion is limited to the case in which the information needed to prevent the disaster is present within the corporation, but fails to reach senior executives. The failure of information to reach executives is usually a result of negative information blockage, a phenomenon caused by the differing roles of constraints and goals within corporations. Executives should be held professionally responsible (...) not only for trying to prevent negative information blockage, but for succeeding. It is concluded that executives are professionally responsible for fulfilling their moral obligation to prevent disasters. (shrink)
Rule consequentialism (RC) is the view that it is right for A to do F in C if and only if A's doing F in C is in accordance with the the set of rules which, if accepted by all, would have consequences which are better than any alternative set of rules (i.e., the ideal code). I defend RC from two related objections. The first objection claims that RC requires obedience to the ideal code even if doing so has disastrous (...) results. Though some rule consequentialists embrace a disaster-clause which permits agents to disregard some of the rules in the ideal code as a necessary means of avoiding disasters, they have not adequately explained how this clause works. I offer such an explanation and show how it fits naturally with the rest of RC. The second disaster objection asserts that even if RC can legitimately invoke a disaster-clause, it lacks principled grounds from distinguishing disasters from non-disasters. In response, I explore Hooker's suggestion that “disaster” is vague. I contend that every plausible ethical theory must invoke something similar to a disaster clause. So if “disaster” is vague, then every plausible ethical theory faces a difficulty with it. As a result, this vagueness is not a reason to prefer other theories to RC. However, I argue, contra Hooker, that the sense of “disaster” relevant to RC is not vague, and RC does indeed have principled grounds to distinguish disasters from nondisasters. (shrink)
Sociologists have known for some time of the widespread incidence of prosocial behavior in the aftermath of disasters (research summarized in Rodriguez, Trainor, and Quarantelli 2006). They have also criticized the role of media in spreading “disaster myths” which include the idea of widespread anti-social behavior (Tierney, Bevc, and Kuligowski 2006). In this essay I will investigate the evolutionary theory and neuroscience needed to account for such prosocial behavior, as well as to discuss the political entailments and consequence of (...) media framing emphasizing if not inventing widespread antisocial behavior. (shrink)
In his article The Moral Responsibility of Corporate Executives for Disasters, John Bishop has argued that we are justified on moral considerations for holding corporate executives responsible for disasters resulting from corporate activities, even in circumstances where they could not reasonably have been expected to possess the information necessary to avert these disasters. I argue that he is mistaken in this claim.
In the literature on the recovery of societies from natural disasters, a dominant theme is the importance of pursuing and achieving sustainable recovery. Sustainability implies that recovery efforts should aim to (re-) build, maintain, and, if possible, enhance the quality of life of members of the disaster-stricken community in the short and long term. In this paper, we propose a capabilities-based approach to recovery and argue that it provides important theoretical resources for better realizing this ideal of sustainability in (...) practice. From a capabilities-based approach, the societal impact of a disaster is measured in terms of its impact on selected capabilities of individuals within society. Capabilities are constitutive elements of well-being and capture the valuable doings and beings individuals can achieve or become (e.g., being adequately nourished, and being sheltered). A proposed Disaster Impact Index (DII), we argue, can capture the societal impact of a disaster by measuring its impact on the well-being of individuals, as gauged by the changes in individuals’ capabilities. We discuss how to measure this impact in practice. Also, a proposed Disaster Recovery Index (DRI) measures the current level of individuals’ capabilities. It can provide important information on the degree to which capabilities have been restored and enhanced by comparing the DRI against a benchmark, or level of capabilities attainment, toward which recovery processes should strive. We argue that the DII and DRI provide critical information for policy- and decision-makers to use in order to practically implement the principles of sustainable recovery. Both can be used in the process of predisaster planning for recovery and in the period of recovery itself. (shrink)
In recent years, major disasters have figured prominently in the media. While corporate response to disasters may have raised corporate philanthropy to a new level, it remains an understudied phenomenon. This article draws on comparative research on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and corporate philanthropy to explore the geography of corporate philanthropic disaster response. The study analyzes donation announcements made by Fortune Global 500 firms from North America, Europe and Asia to look for regional patterns across three recent (...) class='Hi'>disasters: the South Asian Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, and the Kashmiri earthquake. The results reveal inter-regional differences in the overall likelihood of donations and in their cash value, in addition to the identification of home-region- and local presence effects. Implications for researchers and practitioners are discussed. (shrink)
In 2004 Orlando Florida was hit with an almost unprecedented series of storms and hurricanes. Within two months, Hurricanes Charley, Frances, and Jeanne hit, and Hurricane Ivan made a near miss. Billions of dollars of damage resulted from these disasters, and several dozen lives were lost. It is tempting, in the case of extreme events, to either regard them as having no need of interpretation (that is, as simply given, material events shared by everyone), or as a kind of (...) rare window on the workings of a community.1 In this paper I want to examine the public construction of the meaning of the hurricane in Orlando, particularly as represented in reports at the time in the major newspaper, the Orlando Sentinel. I am especially interested in placemaking, that is, the ways in which places gain or fail to gain meaning in times of stress. I will suggest that opportunities for place-making were lost in Orlando because of the frame the events around Hurricane Charley were given. Hurricane Frances, though, was treated differently in the Orlando press, and the discourse around the hurricanes of 2004 provides a contrast to the kind of rhetorical response that circulated during the disastrous hurricane season of 2005. In the case of some disasters, community is reinforced, and the skills of place-making are exercised. The reaction to Hurricane Charley in Orlando, on the other hand, tended not to reinforce community, and tended not to contribute to place-making. While it is extremely difficult to measure sense of place or sense of community quantitatively, it is possible to make sense out of the interpretive tools people have at their disposal in a disaster. What comes out of all this, I think, is something I want to call “place-making imagination”. This is analogous to the 1 concept of “moral imagination” in ethics (Johnson). Our moral options extend as far as our imagination will allow. A person might boil the moral universe down to polarized options – fight or flight, kill or be killed, choose A or B – when in fact a more cultivated and aware imagination may have afforded other options, perhaps better ones than either polarized one.. (shrink)
Does the interaction between climactic demands, monetary resources, and freedom suggest a more general relationship between the environmental challenges that human societies face and their resources to meet those challenges? Using data on press freedom (Van de Vliert 2011a), we found no evidence of a similar interaction with natural resources (as measured by oil exports) or risk for natural disasters.
Disaster planning challenges our morality. Everyday rules of action may need to be suspended during large-scale disasters in favour of maxims that that may make prudential or practical sense and may even be morally preferable but emotionally hard to accept, such as tsunami-tendenko. This maxim dictates that the individual not stay and help others but run and preserve his or her life instead. Tsunami-tendenko became well known after the great East Japan earthquake on 11 March 2011, when almost all (...) the elementary and junior high school students in one city survived the tsunami because they acted on this maxim that had been taught for several years. While tsunami-tendenko has been praised, two criticisms of it merit careful consideration: one, that the maxim is selfish and immoral; and two, that it goes against the natural tendency to try to save others in dire need. In this paper, I will explain the concept of tsunami-tendenko and then respond to these criticisms. Such ethical analysis is essential for dispelling confusion and doubts about evacuation policies in a disaster. (shrink)
On 11 March 2011, Japan experienced a major disaster brought about by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and a massive tsunami that followed. This disaster caused extensive damage to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant with the release of a large amount of radiation, leading to a crisis level 7 on the International Atomic Energy Agency scale. In this report, we discuss the obligations of physicians to provide care during the initial weeks after the disaster. We appeal to the obligation of general (...) beneficence and argue that physicians should go to disaster zones only if there is no significant risk, cost or burden associated with doing so. We conclude that physicians were not obligated to go to Fukushima given the high risk of radiation exposure and physical and psychological harm. However, we must acknowledge that there were serious epistemic difficulties in accurately assessing the risks or benefits of travelling to Fukushima at the time. The discussion that follows is highly pertinent to all countries that rely on nuclear energy. (shrink)
This paper reviews the actual and potential use of social media in emergency, disaster and crisis situations. This is a field that has generated intense interest. It is characterised by a burgeoning but small and very recent literature. In the emergencies field, social media (blogs, messaging, sites such as Facebook, wikis and so on) are used in seven different ways: listening to public debate, monitoring situations, extending emergency response and management, crowd-sourcing and collaborative development, creating social cohesion, furthering causes (including (...) charitable donation) and enhancing research. Appreciation of the positive side of social media is balanced by their potential for negative developments, such as disseminating rumours, undermining authority and promoting terrorist acts. This leads to an examination of the ethics of social media usage in crisis situations. Despite some clearly identifiable risks, for example regarding the violation of privacy, it appears that public consensus on ethics will tend to override unscrupulous attempts to subvert the media. Moreover, social media are a robust means of exposing corruption and malpractice. In synthesis, the widespread adoption and use of social media by members of the public throughout the world heralds a new age in which it is imperative that emergency managers adapt their working practices to the challenge and potential of this development. At the same time, they must heed the ethical warnings and ensure that social media are not abused or misused when crises and emergencies occur. (shrink)
Although virtually all comparative research about risk perception focuses on which hazards are of concern to people in different culture groups, much can be gained by focusing on predictors of levels of risk perception in various countries and places. In this case, we examine standard and novel predictors of risk perception in seven sites among communities affected by a flood in Mexico (one site) and volcanic eruptions in Mexico (one site) and Ecuador (five sites). We conducted more than 450 interviews (...) with questions about how people feel at the time (after the disaster) regarding what happened in the past, their current concerns, and their expectations for the future. We explore how aspects of the context in which people live have an effect on how strongly people perceive natural hazards in relationship with demographic, well-being, and social network factors. Generally, our research indicates that levels of risk perception for past, present, and future aspects of a specific hazard are similar across these two countries and seven sites. However, these contexts produced different predictors of risk perception—in other words, there was little overlap between sites in the variables that predicted the past, present, or future aspects of risk perception in each site. Generally, current stress was related to perception of past danger of an event in the Mexican sites, but not in Ecuador; network variables were mainly important for perception of past danger (rather than future or present danger), although specific network correlates varied from site to site across the countries. (shrink)
American healthcare -- Bioterror and bioart -- State of emergency -- Licensed to torture -- Hunger strikes -- War -- Cancer -- Drug dealing -- Toxic tinkering -- Abortion -- Culture of death -- Patient safety -- Global health -- Statue of security -- Pandemic fear -- Bioidentifiers -- Genetic genocide.
It is commonly believed that people become selfish and turn to looting, price gouging, and other immoral behaviour in emergencies. This has been the basis for an argument justifying extraordinary measures in emergencies. It states that if emergencies are not curtailed, breakdown of moral norms threaten (‘the moral black hole’). Using the example of natural disasters, we argue that the validity of this argument in non-antagonistic situations, i.e. situations other than war and armed conflict, is highly questionable. Available evidence (...) suggests that people in such emergencies typically do not display panic reactions or exaggerated selfishness, and that phenomena such as looting and price gouging are rare. Furthermore, a version of the moral-black-hole argument based on the mere possibility of a moral black hole occurring runs into problems similar to those of Pascal’s Wager. We conclude that we should be wary against applying the moral-black-hole argument to non-antagonistic cases. (shrink)
The standard response to engineering disasters like the Deepwater Horizon case is to ascribe full moral responsibility to individuals and to collectives treated as individuals. However, this approach is inappropriate since concrete action and experience in engineering contexts seldom meets the criteria of our traditional moral theories. Technological action is often distributed rather than individual or collective, we lack full control of the technology and its consequences, and we lack knowledge and are uncertain about these consequences. In this paper, (...) I analyse these problems by employing Kierkegaardian notions of tragedy and moral responsibility in order to account for experiences of the tragic in technological action. I argue that ascription of responsibility in engineering contexts should be sensitive to personal experiences of lack of control, uncertainty, role conflicts, social dependence, and tragic choice. I conclude that this does not justify evading individual and corporate responsibility, but inspires practices of responsibility ascription that are less ‘harsh’ on those directly involved in technological action, that listen to their personal experiences, and that encourage them to gain more knowledge about what they are doing. (shrink)
Nowadays there is a paradox ruling utopia. The place for the ‘spirit of youth’ in our society, apart from the traditional age groups, ought to mean a strong upswell of utopian projects, since youth is the age for questioning the world as it is, and idealistically rebuilding the future. And yet there is a paralysis of optimistic imagination as to the future. It is the unpredictability of the future, in a world that makes creating the new in every field its (...) very driver, that makes any imaginings about a future society so perilous and uncertain. However, the demand for diversity and the aesthetic dimension are two factors that could characterize the contemporary vision, in contrast to the old austere utopias that are now bankrupt. (shrink)
Social forestry, in contrast to traditional forestry, is intended to meet biological/environmental, procedural and equity goals. Social forestry projects may not fulfill this multiplicity of goals either because priority is given to a single goal or because various factors including the structure and norms of implementing institutions and the distribution of local power overwhelm procedural and distributive intentions. Thus, despite participatory and equitable project designs, social forestry projects may result in the distribution of benefits to the rich and costs to (...) the poor and products that either have little local value or lose their value over time. Factors leading to these outcomes are explored and countervailing measures considered. (shrink)
This article examines the bodily donations made by Greeks, Turks and Cypriots to the victims of two devastating earthquakes in Turkey and Greece (1999), as well as to a Greek and a Turkish Cypriot boy, both suffering from leukemia (2000). Considering the age old discourse of amity and enmity shared by the citizens of the three nation states, I ask what made them see these hardly rare events as exceptionally important, and rush to offer each other their blood and body (...) organs. Politicians and journalists of the time presented these corporeal responses as "civil society's demand for brotherly rapprochement," thus underscoring the anthropological insight that contemporary identity politics is increasingly "medicalized". Taking into consideration both the medical regimes of truth that made these donations possible, and the painful political experiences lived and remembered by Greeks, Turks and Cypriots to this day, I argue that the conciliation these donors performed revealed the suspense of their faith in the reconciliatory future rather than their acceptance of restorative notions such as brotherhood and rapprochement. Stated otherwise, these donors, being familiar with the euphemistic and the conditional hence pending nature of such political conciliations, dared the Derridian impossible: without endangering the principle of sharing, they opened their bodies to alterity, to their foe's bodies, and hence entertained the possibility of non-predetermined, thus unexpected even incongruous events of memory. . (shrink)
Biobanks are vital for diagnostic, epidemiological and research purposes following radiation disasters, but there is a history of delays in this type of research and specifically in setting up important resources including tissue repositories following the rare occurrence of these events. Here, we argue that one key lesson from Chernobyl and Fukushima has still not been learned: it is essential to agree on a proactive international plan for a radiation disaster biobank and accompanying data collection before the next disaster (...) occurs. (shrink)
Any plausible position in the ethics of war and political violence in general will include the requirement of protection of civilians (non-combatants, common citizens) against lethal violence. This requirement is particularly prominent, and particularly strong, in just war theory. Some adherents of the theory see civilian immunity as absolute, not to be overridden in any circumstances whatsoever. Others allow that it may be overridden, but only in extremis. The latter position has been advanced by Michael Walzer under the heading of (...) “supreme emergency.” In this paper, I look into some of the issues of interpretation and application of Walzer’s “supreme emergency” view and some of the criticisms that have been levelled against it. I argue that Walzer’s view is vague and unacceptable as it stands, but that the alternatives proposed by critics such as Brian Orend, C.A.J. Coady, and Stephen Nathanson are also unattractive. I go on to construct a position that is structurally similar to Walzer’s, but more specific and much less permissive, which I term the “moral disaster” view. According to this view, deliberate killing of civilians is almost absolutely wrong. (shrink)
Thomas A. Sebeok’s global semiotics has inspired quite a few followers, noticeably Marcel Danesi, Susan Petrilli and Augusto Ponzio. However, for all the trendiness of the word, the very concept of global should be subject to more rigorous examination, especially within today’s ecological and politico-economic contexts. With human and natural disasters precipitating on a global and almost quotidian basis, it is only appropriate for global semioticians to pay more attention to such phenomena and to contemplate, even when confined to (...) their attics, the semiotic consequences of disasters. The paper probes into the semiotic implications of the tsunami disaster that claimed quarter of a million lives in South and Southeast Asia during the Christmas holidays in 2004, and proposes a semiotics of disaster, developed from the discussions of the eighteenth-century British Empiricist philosopher Thomas Reid and the contemporary semiotician David S. Clarke, Jr. As the word’s etymology indicates, disaster originally referred to a natural phenomenon, i.e., ‘an obnoxious planet’, and only by extension was it later used to cover man-made calamities, be it political or economic. Although the dichotomy of nature versus culture no longer holds good, the author uses theword disaster in the traditional sense by referring to ‘natural’ disasters only. (shrink)
No matter one’s wealth or social position, all are subject to the threats of natural hazards. Be it fire, flood, hurricane, earthquake, tornado, or drought, the reality of hazard risk is universal. In response, governments, non-profits, and the private sector all support research to study hazards. Each has a common end in mind: to increase the resilience of vulnerable communities. While this end goal is shared across hazards, the conception of how to get there can diverge considerably. The earthquake and (...) hurricane research endeavors in the US provide an illustrative contrast. The earthquake community sets out to increase resilience through a research process that simultaneously promotes both high quality and usable – preparedness-focused - science. In order to do so, the logic suggests that research must be collaborative, responsive, and transparent. Hurricane research, by contrast, largely promotes high quality science – predictions - alone, and presumes that usability should flow from there. This process is not collaborative, responsive, or transparent. Experience suggests, however, that the latter model – hurricane research - does not prepare communities or decision makers to use the high quality science it has produced when a storm does hit. The predictions are good, but they are not used effectively. Earthquake research, on the other hand, is developed through a collaborative process that equips decision makers to know and use hazards research knowledge as soon as an earthquake hits. The contrast between the two fields suggests that earthquake research is more likely to meet the end goal of resilience than is hurricane research, and thus that communities might be more resilient to hurricanes were the model by which research is funded and conducted to change. The earthquake research experience can provide lessons for this shift. This paper employs the Public Value Mapping (PVM) framework to explore these two divergent public value logics, their end results, and opportunities for improvement. (shrink)
In this essay, Marianna Papastephanou discusses three books—Michalinos Zembylas's The Politics of Trauma in Education; Sigal Ben-Porath's Citizenship Under Fire: Democratic Education in Times of Conflict; and Kenneth Saltman's Capitalizing on Disaster: Taking and Breaking Public Schools—from the perspective of the material causality of conflict and of the significance this might have for conflict resolution and the role that education may play in it. Setting out from the Derridean standpoint of spectrality, Papastephanou explores divergences and convergences of Zembylas's critical emotional (...) praxis, Ben-Porath's counterposition of belligerent and expansive citizenship education, and Saltman's critique of educational programs that capitalize on natural disasters and wars. Papastephanou examines various operations of ontology in an interplay with hauntology (to use Jacques Derrida's terminology) and thus puts forward a critical approach to the contribution of each perspective. (shrink)
In Holding Health Care Accountable , E. Haavi Morreim differentiates between duties of expertise and resource duties, arguing for tort liability respecting the former and contract liability respecting the latter. Though Morreim's book addresses ordinary clinical medicine, her liability scheme may also be relevant elsewhere. Focusing on disaster medicine, and especially the medical management of violent mass disasters (e.g., where terrorists have deployed weapons of mass destruction), I argue in this essay that Morreim's classification of duties still fits, but (...) that it is difficult to hold government powers accountable for their many resource and expertise duties. This difficulty is compounded by political arrangements that foist under-funded mandates for disaster services on healthcare providers. As a result of such arrangements, hospitals and clinicians are prone to liability for expenditures and clinical interventions that are beyond their scope. This problem can be mitigated, I argue, by examining and clarifying the apparent social compact between society and healthcare. (shrink)
The close coupling between media and science becomes predominant in the context of public controversies over science during disasters like earthquakes. The paper discusses some crucial aspects of this dynamic by investigating the role of regional press in Kerala, India, in initiating and maintaining a public controversy over a series of micro earthquakes in 2001 amidst growing public skepticism over the competence of Earth Science to convincingly explain the phenomenon. The press employed various strategies to challenge the official scientific (...) explanation of the phenomenon and broke open the ground for a spectrum of alternative interpretations and critical interventions, affirming greater public participation in science. Most of the experts continued to downplay the concerns raised by the media, but closure was attained when a lesser-known team of experts convincingly interpreted the geological events while participating in the deliberations. The paper analyses how the media played a crucial role in revealing and enhancing the entanglement of science with diverse actors and institutions during the controversy. (shrink)
Pretende-se situar através da revisão da literatura atual o fenômeno seca na discussão mais ampla sobre riscos, hazards e desastres, salientando sua relevância na perspectiva dos teóricos da mudança climática. A partir da classificação do fenômeno como um hazard e um desastre, apresentam-se suas car..
A multilingual disaster information system (MLDI) has been developed to overcome the language barrier during times of natural disaster. MLDI is a web-based system that includes templates in nine languages so that translated texts can be made available immediately. Mobile phone e-mail with graphic text is a useful tool for delivering multilingual disaster information. The visibility of graphic text on mobile phones was measured and found to be equivalent to the built-in font. However, visibility deteriorates as the character size becomes (...) smaller, especially, on displays with poor resolution. This article also discusses the necessity of multilingual information and measures for a safe and barrier-free society. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: List of illustrations * Notes On Contributors * Introduction: B.Biebuyck, G.Buelens, O.de Graef, D.Hoens, S.Jttkandt * Who or What Decides: For Derrida: A Catastrophic Theory of Decision--J.Hillis Miller * Catastrophic Narratives and Why the Catastrophe to Catastrophe Might Have Already Happened--E.Vogt * Breath of Relief: Sloterdijk and the Politics of the Intimate--S.van Tuinen * Man is a swarm animal--J.Clemens * Notes on the Bird War: Biopolitics of the Visible (in the Era of Climate Change)--T.Cohen * Dialectical (...) Catastrophe: Hegels Allegory of Physiognomy and the Ethics of Survival--P.Moll * Catastrophe, Citationality and the Limits of Responsibility in Disgrace--G.Buelens * Unpredictable Inevitability and the Boundaries of Psychic Life; D.Nobus * Who is Nietzsche?--A.Badiou * Is Pleasure a Rotten Idea?--A.Schuster * Nationalist Ext(im)asy: Maurice Barrs and the Roots of Fascist Enjoyment--G.Chaitin * Topography of the Border: Derrida Rewriting Transcendental Aesthetics--J.Hodge * Index List of illustrations * Notes On Contributors * Introduction: B.Biebuyck, G.Buelens, O.de Graef, D.Hoens, S.Jttkandt * Who or What Decides: For Derrida: A Catastrophic Theory of Decision--J.Hillis Miller * Catastrophic Narratives and Why the Catastrophe to Catastrophe Might Have Already Happened--E.Vogt * Breath of Relief: Sloterdijk and the Politics of the Intimate--S.van Tuinen * Man is a swarm animal--J.Clemens * Notes on the Bird War: Biopolitics of the Visible (in the Era of Climate Change)--T.Cohen * Dialectical Catastrophe: Hegels Allegory of Physiognomy and the Ethics of Survival--P.Moll * Catastrophe, Citationality and the Limits of Responsibility in Disgrace--G.Buelens * Unpredictable Inevitability and the Boundaries of Psychic Life; D.Nobus * Who is Nietzsche?--A.Badiou * Is Pleasure a Rotten Idea?--A.Schuster * Nationalist Ext(im)asy: Maurice Barrs and the Roots of Fascist Enjoyment--G.Chaitin * Topography of the Border: Derrida Rewriting Transcendental Aesthetics--J.Hodge * Index. (shrink)