The Disaster Epidemic: Research, Diagnosis, and Prescriptions

  • Thea DickinsonEmail author
  • Ian Burton


This paper explores the reasons for the rapid increase in number of disasters and disaster losses over the past few decades. It explains why disasters can no longer be regarded as unique events specific to particular places, but often have widespread consequences far beyond the initial location of the triggering events. It is proposed that apparently independent events are connected by sharing some root causes in common. The metaphor of “epidemic” is used to suggest approaches than can be used to identify root causes and to begin to address them. This takes disaster risk reduction and management a stage further than reliance on attempts to reduce exposure and vulnerability, and seeks to find the common underlying causes. As the 10 year life of the Hyogo Framework for Action ends in 2015 there is an opportunity to develop a new forensic approach to investigations of disasters and to bring about a substantial paradigm shift in disaster risk management that places more emphasis on common responsibilities and integrated approaches in the context of more sustainable development.


Disaster Risk Climate Change Adaptation Disaster Risk Reduction Anthropogenic Climate Change Disaster Reduction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Physical and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.School of the EnvironmentUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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