T.T. Soong Student Lecture Series
Thomas D. O'Rourke, Ph.D.
Thomas R. Briggs Professor of Engineering
Cornell University

The New Normal for Natural Disasters

Abstract

The effects of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami, Canterbury Earthquake Sequence, and Hurricane Katrina are discussed with respect to their impact on regional and international economics, national practices for security and recovery, and worldwide energy policy. The severity and far ranging consequences of these extreme events have established in effect a new normal for natural disasters. The lecture explains why these events require a fundamental re-thinking of the way we evaluate the risks of extreme events, as well as define and protect critical infrastructure. Examples of critical infrastructure at risk are discussed with respect to earthquake effects on the water supply of Southern California and hurricane effects on New York City. Selective lessons learned from recent earthquakes are described with respect to mitigation measures. To address the need for protection against rare, high consequence events with limited financial resources, a strategy for improving infrastructure resilience is proposed.

Date

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Time

5:00 PM EST

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