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Unnatural Disaster

By Margaret Peloso and Kristen Miller

As a society, we are devoted to the idea of spreading the costs of catastrophic losses. Continuing this commitment in the face of projected increases due to climate change will require ensuring that such programs also create incentives to engage in hazard mitigation.

Natural disaster response in the United States has long been characterized by the distribution of significant amounts of government funds to aid recovery. These funds are allocated in the form of direct aid in the wake of an event and through subsidized insurance policies before a hurricane, flood, wildfire, or tornado. In fact, our cultural paradigms around sharing the burden of disaster recovery have become so strong that researchers find that individual property owners often choose to live in hazard-prone areas in part because they believe the government will make these areas safe for them or help them rebuild in the wake of an adverse event. This effect is further compounded by the fact that people often misevaluate or even ignore risk, and tend to be under-insured for high-value losses that are rarely experienced. Read the full article here

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