22 March 2012

A public lecture in Hong Kong

Posted by Dave Petley

For anyone in the area, I will be giving a public lecture at the Hong Kong branch of the Royal Geographical Society on 3rd April.  Details may be found here.  This is the title and abstract:

The Hazards of Geography: Earthquakes, Floods and Landslides

David Petley

Wilson Professor of Hazard and Risk, Durham University and

Honorary Secretary (Expeditions and Fieldwork), Royal Geographical Society


In recent years there has been a dramatic increase in the occurrence of meteorological disasters, such as floods and landslides.  Furthermore, the economic costs of all natural disasters has risen rapidly, with the highest costs being felt across Asia.  Furthermore, in recent years there has been a series of disasters, such as the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami and the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, that appear to have taken the international community by surprise.   In this talk, David Petley will examine the reasons why natural disasters continue to inflict such a high toll on society, despite greatly improved understanding of hazard processes, enhanced skills in anticipating and forecasting hazardous events, and a wealth of major international and national initiatives on disaster risk reduction.  Drawing on his experiences of working in for example Nepal during landslides and floods caused by monsoon rainfall;  Pakistan after the 2005 Kashmir earthquake and the 2010 Attabad landslide; China after the 2008 Wenchuan (Sichuan) earthquake; and New Zealand after the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, David will explore the ways in which social and natural processes combine to generate disasters.  The talk will examine the ways in which changes in global systems, such as the warming climate, the increasing population and the growth of large urban areas, are combining to enhance vulnerability to hazardous processes.  David will highlight the ways in which better understanding of these social and natural processes can start to reduce losses, showing for example the ways in which a combination of research and proactive management has reduced loss of life from landslides in both Hong Kong and China. Thus, the talk will finish by suggesting that improved application of existing knowledge and skills, combined with targeted research and local capacity building, can begin to reduce the costs of earthquakes, floods and landslides on society.

I will also be in Hong Kong from 8th to 11th April if anyone there fancies meeting for a beer.