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The Next Catastrophe by Charles Perrow

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2 “Natural” Disasters?

Societies put their people in harm’s way. Modern societies do so with an especial vengeance because their technology and resources encourage risk. But sixteenth-century Holland and Venice swelled on unstable mud and have been pumping, filling, sinking piles, and building dikes ever since. Who is to say that their centuries of affluence were not worth the risk of being in harm’s way? However, harm’s way has been widening in recent decades. Global warming is playing a role, but the more immediate problem is development. Urbanization concentrates the targets of both “nature’s wrath” and industrialization. With population growth and migration to risky areas, natural disasters worldwide are rising rapidly. More striking, the ...

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