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)
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)
Is there a principled way to understand what liberal democratic states owe, as a matter of justice, to the victims of disasters? This article shows what is normatively special and distinctive about disasters and argues for the view that there are substantial duties of justice for liberal democratic states. The article rejects both a libertarian and a utilitarian approach to this question and, based on broadly Rawlsian principles, argues for a ‘political definition’ of disasters that is concerned (...) with the restoration of citizens' dignity and their capacities for effective citizenship. (shrink)
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)
This paper uses an environmental justice framework to examine government response to weather-related disasters dating back some eight decades. It places the 2005 Hurricane Katrina disaster in socio-historical context of past emergencies with an emphasis on race and class dynamics and social vulnerability. Key questions explored include: What went wrong? Can it happen again? Is government equipped to plan for, mitigate against, respond to, and recover from natural and manmade disasters? Can the public trust government response to be (...) fair? Why are so many African Americans Alocked out@ of New Orleans= post-Katrina rebuilding, reconstruction, and recovery? (shrink)
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)
Natural and industrial disasters are increasing in the U.S., and the terrorist threat is still with us. Our response has been proximate — remediation and protection B rather than basic B reducing our vulnerabilities. Reducing vulnerabilities will involve the deconcentration of hazardous materials, of population density in vulnerable areas, and of private centers of economic and political power. The objection that deconcentration will entail economic inefficiencies is addressed by examining four systems that are very large, highly efficient, robust, radically (...) decentralized, and innovative: the Internet, the electric power grid, networks of small firms, and, alas, terrorist networks. All are threatened, but regulation by a strong state could preserve the efficiency of the first three, and muster the tools to thwart the fourth. (shrink)
Disasters overwhelm resources and threaten the safety and functioning of communities. Mental health and community needs after catastrophic disasters can be substantial, however the effects of traumatic events are not exclusively bad with many people showing individual resilience and some reporting growth. Sustaining the social fabric of the community and facilitating recovery following disaster depends on leadership=s knowledge of a community=s resilience and vulnerabilities as well as an understanding of the distress, disorder, and health risk behavioral responses. A (...) coordinated systems approach across medical care, public health, and emergency response system is necessary to meet the mental health care needs of a disaster region. (shrink)
Modern cognitive and clinical psychology offer insight into how people deal with natural disasters. In my methodological paper, I make a strong case for incorporating experimental findings and theoretical concepts of modern psychology into environmental historical disaster research. I show how psychological factors may influence the production and interpretation of historical sources with respect to perceptions of and responses to disasters. While previous psychological approaches to history mostly involve psychoanalysis, I focus on empirical psychology. Specifically, I review a (...) number of well documented heuristics, biases, and memory modulations as described by cognitive psychology. Moreover, I argue that including investigations on disaster related mental disorders would complement the environmental historical research of natural disasters. My approach highlights a strong potential for interdisciplinary collaborations among environmental historians and psychologists. (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)
How can we use our knowledge of how the mind works to help people act in ways that can prevent disaster, prepare for it, or at the very least, help them respond to a disaster in ways that will reduce its impact? This paper suggests that the most effective method for helping the public deal with disaster, and preventing denial, is to provide them with a concrete, doable, and effective strategy. A number of examples are discussed, including government warnings about (...) increased threat levels, the handling of the 9/11 cleanup by the EPA, the disaster relief problems during Hurricane Katrina and several social psychology experiments which used a "hypocrisy paradigm" to address condom use and water conservation among college students. The paper suggests that the best policy approach for dealing with disaster is one which not only convinces people to prepare for disasters by changing their behaviors through puncturing their rationalizations but also one where communication which produces high fear can lead to sensible action. (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.
Nosso objetivo no presente artigo é contextualizar as críticas de Rousseau àquilo que posteriormente será designado como ética socioambiental, a partir da qual se analisam as relações dos homens com o meio ambiente e como estas são determinadas e também determinantes de suas ações ético-políticas. Pretende-se ainda verificar em que medida o pensamento de Rousseau pode contribuir para o entendimento dos desastres socioambientais, na atualidade. This paper aims at contextualizing Rousseau's critiques of what would later be called the socio-environmental ethics, (...) which entails analysis not only of the relations of men with the environment and the way these relations are determined, but also of the way the environment determines men's ethical and political actions. We also intend to verify to what extent Rousseau's thought may contribute to the understanding of current socio-environmental disasters. (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 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)
Natural disasters in populated areas may result in massive casualties and extensive destruction of infrastructure. Humanitarian aid delegations may have to cope with the complicated issue of patient prioritization under conditions of severe resource scarcity. A triage model, consisting of five principles, is proposed for the prioritization of patients, and it is argued that rational and reasonable agents would agree upon them. The Israel Defense Force's humanitarian mission to Haiti following the 2010 earthquake serves as a case study for (...) the various considerations taken into account when designing the ethical-clinical policy of field hospitals. The discussion focuses on three applications: the decision to include an intensive care unit, the decision to include obstetrics and neonatal units, and the treatment policy for compound fractures. (shrink)
“Aging and Disasters,” is an effort to tell a consistent and compelling story about the elderly amidst catastrophic disaster, and to then develop an ethical analysis and practical strategy for addressing the unique situation of the elderly. In the first portion of the chapter I make the case that the elderly are routinely overlooked amidst catastrophic disasters, and thereby often suffer disproportionately relative to the general population. More than being just a vulnerable population of people, the elderly are (...) susceptible to additional and compound harms. A failure to recognize the special needs of the elderly population will consistently lead to their marginalization in disaster response efforts. Therefore, in the second section of the chapter, I emphasize our ethical obligations to (1) responsible planning prior to a disaster taking place and also to (2) promoting and maintaining effective communication and collaboration both in planning for and responding to a major disaster as two elements of an approach that seeks to address the particularity of the elderly relative to major disasters. To further specify and make meaningful these broad commitments, I introduce an ethics of place holding, arising out of work by Hilde Lindemann and Iris Marion Young, as an important framework for analysis and assessment. In the final portion of the chapter, I offer some concrete recommendations for a renewed approach to disaster planning and response that is conscious of the elderly amidst catastrophic disasters. (shrink)
Current accounts on globalization and transnational media flows have reformed traditional debates on media events and have raised questions on the integrative potential of media events at a global level. This article addresses this issue by employing the case of global disasters as media events and exploring some of the characteristics of the global public sphere surrounding them in one of its particular actualizations: that of the Greek audience. The article is empirically grounded on focus group discussions through which (...) questions of perception and framing of disasters as well as of the potential of promotion of global solidarity will be addressed. (shrink)
Le rôle de lEtat face aux catastrophes naturelles est examiné en fonction des critères d efficacité et de liberté. Les bureaucraties dassistance face aux désastres ont des points communs, mais aussi dimportantes différences, avec celles de la santé publique. Certains programmes gouvernementaux faits pour assister les victimes de catastrophes naturelles ont des effets pervers en créant plus de souffrance, et dautres entretiennent activement les comportements irresponsables. Le rôle de lEtat en tant que coordinateur des efforts dassistance est justifié, mais il (...) se trouve quil nest pas logiquement nécessaire.The role of the state in responding to natural disasters is examined with an eye to questions of both efficacy and liberty. Disaster relief bureaucracies have some similarities to, but important differences from, welfare relief bureaucracies. Some government programs designed to assist the victims of natural disasters have perverse effects of creating more suffering, and others actively foster irresponsible behavior. The role of the state in coordinating relief efforts is justified, but turns out not to be logically necessary. (shrink)
During disasters, clinicians may be forced to play dual roles, as both a provider and an allocator of scarce resources. At present, a clear framework to govern resource stewardship at the bedside is lacking. Clinicians who find themselves practicing in this ethical gap between clinical and public health ethics can experience significant moral distress. One provider describes her experience allocating an oxygen tank in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, immediately following the 2010 earthquake. Using (...) a clinical vignette and reflective narrative she attempts to identify the factors that influenced her allocation decision, opening up the factors for commentary and debate by an ethicist. A better paradigm for the ethical care of patients during disasters is needed to better guide provider choices in the future. (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.
This paper addresses the ethical issues of secondary uses of samples collected for identification purposes following mass disasters. It studies norms governing secondary use of samples , ultimately concluding that limited secondary research uses of these samples should be permissible.
Why do we assign to countries rights to all the positive utilities from their natural resources, but hold them under no duty to bear costs for the negative utilities generated by those resources for those beyond their borders? In this paper I suggest that this ‘volcanic asymmetry’ has been overlooked by statist and cosmopolitan theories and that, despite of the arguments that might be given on its behalf, keeping this asymmetry requires further normative justification. I present two ways of getting (...) rid of it, conclude that neither is satisfactory, and point to an alternative path. (shrink)
In every corner of the globe, natural hazards are ubiquitous and varied from every perspective. Atmospheric and weather conditions, geological movements and other recurrent disturbances would occur with or without the existence of humans on the planet. It is when these natural events cause catastrophic consequences for human populations that they become what we call Adisasters.@ The extent to which people are at risk under disaster conditions, irrespective of etiology, is dependent upon many factors, not the least of which is (...) Aill fortune@; simply being at the wrong place, at the wrong time. But sometimes people elect to live in communities where disaster risks are well known; and sometimes options are limited because of livelihood demands. But in almost all cases, biological and social factors can greatly increase vulnerability to the consequences of disaster. People with chronic illness or disability and people with limited economic or social resources are representative of populations who face exacerbated risk under a wide range of disaster scenarios. (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)
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)
The West African Ebola epidemic has set in motion a collective endeavour to conduct accelerated clinical trials, testing unproven but potentially lifesaving interventions in the course of a major public health crisis. This unprecedented effort was supported by the recommendations of an ad hoc ethics panel convened in August 2014 by the WHO. By considering why and on what conditions the exceptional circumstances of the Ebola epidemic justified the use of unproven interventions, the panel's recommendations have challenged conventional thinking about (...) therapeutic development and clinical research ethics. At the same time, unanswered ethical questions have emerged, in particular: the specification of exceptional circumstances, the specification of unproven interventions, the goals of interventional research in terms of individual versus collective interests, the place of adaptive trial designs and the exact meaning of compassionate use with unapproved interventions. Examination of these questions, in parallel with empirical data from research sites, will help build pragmatic foundations for disaster research ethics. Furthermore, the Ebola clinical trials signal an evolution in the current paradigms of therapeutic research, beyond the case of epidemic emergencies. (shrink)
“That's my dad on the floor.”And there he was unconscious in a pool of blood in the bathroom. A paramedic who had accompanied him to the john was holding him off the ground, the USMC tattoo on his forearm cradling his head. My sister shrieked, and I went down on my knees to see about his airway. “We need a doctor here. Cardiac Team!” Could this really be happening to him? To us? Jesus Christ.
Discussions about resource allocation commonly invoke concerns of unfair and variable decisions when physicians ration at the bedside. This concern is no less germane in disaster medicine, in which physicians make triage and allocation decisions under duress, and patients and their families may be challenged to self-advocate. Unfortunately, a real-time mechanism to support a process for ethical decision making may not be available to medical relief workers. Yet, resources for ethics decision support can be important for the moral well-being of (...) the clinician, the ethical integrity of the relief effort, and to bolster the trust and confidence of the population receiving medical services. The need for clinical ethical support should be anticipated in disaster preparedness planning. (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)