Honors 101 - Science and the Public Good
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Risk: Response Paper


For this topic, all the reading is on the Web.

Zurich Financial Services: Industry Insights

The Tale of the Three Pigs: Taking Another Look at Vulnerability in the Light of the Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina, by Greg Bankoff

Questions to Ponder:

We will discuss all of these questions in class. Think about all three. Then choose one and write a paragraph or two addressing the question.

1. Clearly, the notion of how we measure risk and how risk is distributed is much more complex than it might first appear. Consider the observation that experts and the public include different factors in their definition of risk. Is one of these definitions more valid than the other?

2. Dr. Bankoff suggests that disasters are actually the result of human decisionmaking regarding severe natural occurrences - that the disaster is in the way we plan for and react to extreme conditions, rather than in the natural occurrence itself. Choose one of these statements to react to. Do you agree, disagree, or are you somewhere in the middle? Support your position with one strong argument, supported by one specific example. Use your existing knowledge of the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricane Katrina as well as the information in the article - don't feel you need to do a big Internet search on those disasters.

a. The best solution to the risk of tsunami in the Indian Ocean is a technological one: the installation of an early warning system.

b. Hurricane Katrina illustrates that even in the United States the risk of natural disasters is higher for the poor.