Climate Change threats: The US tribalism in the face of globalization

Donald Trump Energy Order(Photo Source: Google)

After China, America is the second-largest environmental polluter in the world. In a country where nearly two-third of the population believes that climate change is real and caused by humans, it is sad to see that the US President Donald Trump has recently signed an executive order on 28th March 2017 to eliminate Obama’s climate change regulations.

Mr. Trump, with deregulation, hopes to bring back coal industry jobs in the US. He seems to neglect the fact that the country, in recent years, has been gradually creating more and more new jobs in alternative energy sector, while the coal industry jobs are becoming less and less viable, environmentally as well as economically.

The President certainly needs to learn few good lessons from China which recently pledged to invest over US$350 billion in renewable power, creating over 13 million new jobs by 2020. But let’s also not forget the fact that we are talking about someone who doesn’t quite believe in global warming and its effects on climate change.        

In the meantime, environmental experts around the world are showing concerns that this change in policy would make it almost impossible to meet the international pollution targets agreed in December 2015 at the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21), an international environmental treaty as per the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1992. That winter of 2015, over 150 countries came together in Paris and agreed upon the environmental emission targets covering nearly 90 percent of global emissions.

The countries which contribute least to greenhouse gas emissions are the ones suffering greatest threat of climate change worldwide. Two years ago, the 2015 Sendai Framework (The Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, Sendai City, Japan) made it one of the highest priorities to save lives from climate change-induced disasters around the world, especially in developing countries. It seems fairer to focus on mitigating the impacts of climate change in these countries, although it doesn’t feel encouraging if the so-called global leaders become egocentric and behave with such short-sightedness.       

In the age of globalization, people around the planet, look up to the countries like the US and China and their leaderships to fight global disaster threats such as global warming and climate change. As a hub of technology and advancements, one would naturally expect that the US would set examples and take progressive steps towards clean power plants and renewable energy generation as well as job creation in these sectors.

The recent development in the US environmental policy landscape contradicts the above assumption and sounds to be more of selfish and irresponsible act which completely lacks vision and a sense of global well-being. This is no less than stepping down to tribalism in the face of looming global crisis.

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Risk: Concept & Components

risk-spelled(Photo Source: Google)

Whenever there is a likelihood scenario of losing someone or something of value, there is risk associated. In a broader perspective, risk can also be understood as potential for loss. In financial terms, risk is either pure or speculative. If there is no chance of gain, the risk is pure while in the case of speculative risk, there is some chance of winning or gaining as well. Not taking care of your health implies pure risk while buying an insurance plan for the same is speculative risk.     

‘Risk’ can also be categorized as ‘Voluntary’ such as, betting on a cricket match and ‘Involuntary’ such as, an earthquake or any other disaster for that matter. Although widely communicated, the usage and meaning of the term ‘Risk’ differs with different activities or events and their nature or characteristic. Therefore, it is hard to come down to a single definition of the word, suitable for all the possible cases.

In the field of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), the term ‘Risk’ is widely accepted as the product of ‘Probability’ and ‘Severity’ i.e. Risk = Probability x Severity; Where Probability means a loss event in terms of frequency of occurrence and Severity means the impact of the event in terms of fatality and loss. This Risk Matrix is used during risk assessment to designate the level of risk involved with a certain action, event or condition.

The definition, explanation and interpretation of ‘Probability’ and ‘Severity’ depend on the risk tolerance level of the concerned entities, be it an individual, organization, community, businesses or an entire nation. Further, after interpreting the ‘Probability’ in terms of frequency of occurrence and the ‘Severity’ of impact in terms of loss, the ‘Risk Assessment Matrix’ can also be used to calculate the risk quantitatively.

In industrial sector the Matrix is commonly used as risk assessment tool to eliminate the risk associated with hazardous condition or unsafe act. The quantitative analysis and thus obtained numerical representation of potential risk event makes it easier for the concerned supervisors to prioritize mitigation actions based on the level of damage or loss predicted by the matrix.

Sometimes, risk is mistaken for other similar terms such as hazard, threat or vulnerability. Although they all help to explain risk more clearly, essentially they carry different meanings. Hazard is potentially damaging physical event or condition that may cause loss of life, property or environment. A hazard does not take probability of the event occurring into account whilst stating a risk we need to incorporate the probability factor as well.

Threat, on the other hand, is more of an abstract concept where both probability and severity of impact is hard to specify and analyze. For example, terrorism is a threat but very hard to specify its extent of impact and frequency of occurrence. Vulnerability can be simply understood as a fault within the system itself which is often exploited by external threats. For example, not having adequate security measure is a vulnerability which can be exploited by terrorists to create disaster.

In Disaster Risk Management (DRM) context, a disaster risk is a function of hazard, exposure and vulnerability i.e. Disaster Risk = function (Hazard, Exposure and Vulnerability). A hazard can be natural or human-induced and same is true for a potential disaster event. A hazard seems to be the primary component which, in combination with vulnerability and exposure, could give rise to the potential for loss, we call risk. Failure to mitigate such risks and/or their impacts beforehand could eventually cause a disaster.     

We may not be able to control all the hazards or mitigate their impacts so the rationale behind the DRM planning is to reduce the vulnerability and the exposure, instead. For example, to control probable impact of a disaster caused by a natural hazard, such as an earthquake or a landslide, we can minimize our vulnerabilities by building earthquake safe buildings and resilient infrastructures. Similarly, disaster exposure can be contained by relocating populations and property away from hazardous zones such as earthquake fault lines or landslide prone areas.

Also Read:

(Part II) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards

(Part II) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards

(Part I) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Fall Hazards

(Part I) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Fall Hazards

Fire Prevention and Fire Protection – Air Pollution in Kathmandu – Construction PPE – Carbon Monoxide poisoning – Electrical Safety – Fall Protection in General Industry– Fearsome 4 of Construction Safety – Fall Restrain System Vs. Fall Arrest System – Respiratory Protection – Portable Ladder Safety – Confined Space Entry – Initiating First Aid/CPR – Are you too busy… – If you have $86,400 in your account… – Safety professionals have job prospects as Insurance Risk Surveyor or Loss Assessor

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Man-Made Disasters: A Quick Inquiry!

man-made(Photo Source: Google)

Man-made disasters are essentially the results of human activities or to put it more accurately, incoherent activities. Unlike natural disasters where a natural hazard is a direct contributing factor, human-induced disasters are caused by unsafe act or existing unsafe conditions. The development of unsafe or hazardous condition is the accumulation of various unsafe activities over a period of time, often inter-related.

Sometimes, man-made disasters are also resulted from natural disasters. For example, floods or earthquake could lead to social unrest, political upheaval and economic stress which then increase the vulnerabilities of people. Another broader perspective emphasizes that all disasters, natural or man-made, are basically caused by human, since we choose to stay in close proximity to a hazard without realizing our vulnerabilities to the same.

Usually it is hard to provide warning or forecast a man-made disaster. In many cases we have to rely on historical data, our social conditioning, vulnerabilities, probability theories and statistics to assume the likelihood and severity of man-made disasters. Still, the nature and extent of man-made disasters cannot be predicted accurately.

Although safety can be improved through awareness, monitoring, maintenance and capacity building, one hundred percent security from man-made disaster is practically unattainable for any system. There is always something which can go wrong. Suddenly, 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy in India and 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Catastrophe in Ukraine come to mind.

In the event of industrial or technological failures, often the accidents occur due to human error (unsafe act) or technical malfunction (unsafe condition). The disaster can also spread out beyond the neighborhood thru wind, water as well as travellers. Besides, lack of awareness and preparedness may also contribute to a serious man-made disaster. Rapidly growing population, infrastructures and industrialization are also increasing our vulnerabilities, especially in developing countries such as ours, hence the high frequency of man-made disasters.

Newspapers are crowded with various types of man-made disasters every day. Most common are road accidents and building fires. In the month of August of 2016 alone, Nepal witnessed two major road accidents in Kavre and Chitwan districts killing dozens of people in each. Industrial accidents including chemical spill, fire, leaks, explosions, cyber-attacks, etc. are also commonly reported in media these days. Unfortunately airplane accidents are also frequently reported in Nepal, pretty unusual considering the flight safety statistics of other countries.

Man-made disasters such as, civil conflicts, warfare, arson and terrorism are becoming more frequent in today’s world. Nuclear hazards cannot be termed as common but their impact could be no less than catastrophic. After the 2011 Earthquake and Tsunami in Japan, the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster brought terror not only for the Japanese but to the entire world. Same was true when a couple of Boeing planes hit the twin towers in New York City.  

It shouldn’t sound overrated to state that the environmental and ecological disasters, as we understand them, are basically man-made events. Air, water and soil are being polluted left and right, especially in developing countries where policies are unable to provide adequate scrutiny. Very little is being done to manage ever growing garbage and industrial toxic wastes. This in turn is causing chronic health hazards, hence more diseases, epidemics and loss of lives.

In one way or another, humans are greatly responsible for the loss of biodiversity, species, forests and natural habitats of wildlife, causing adverse effects to natural ecosystems beyond borders. In the meantime, global warming, climate change and ecological disorders are also the result of human activities accumulated in just over the last few centuries. The climate change effects may not be local, direct or prompt but they are showing up in global scale as weather patterns are changing all over the planet, several species are going extinct, glaciers and polar ice caps are melting rapidly, and sea level is rising faster than ever before:(

Also Read:

(Part II) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards

(Part II) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Struck-By Hazards

(Part I) (1 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Fall Hazards

(Part I) (2 of 2) Construction Focus Four: Fall Hazards

Fire Prevention and Fire Protection – Air Pollution in Kathmandu – Construction PPE – Carbon Monoxide poisoning – Electrical Safety – Fall Protection in General Industry– Fearsome 4 of Construction Safety – Fall Restrain System Vs. Fall Arrest System – Respiratory Protection – Portable Ladder Safety – Confined Space Entry – Initiating First Aid/CPR – Are you too busy… – If you have $86,400 in your account… – Safety professionals have job prospects as Insurance Risk Surveyor or Loss Assessor

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