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Analysis and Comment (30)

Five years on, the bush and people are recovering well from the Black Saturday fires. AAP Image/Joe Castro

Five years on from Black Saturday, most survivors are doing OK

Five years on from the devastating Black Saturday fires that swept through central Victoria in February 2009, research shows that people and communities are largely recovering well. In the first major…
The LGBTI community has unique needs that are often overlooked during the response and recovery stages of a natural disaster event. euphoriadev via Flickr

Speaking with: Scott McKinnon on LGBTI issues during natural disasters

Speaking with: Scott McKinnon.
When natural disasters strike, the impact varies significantly across different social groups, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities are poorly accounted for in disaster…
Women: first to mobilise, last to be considered. Simminch

Women worse off when it comes to natural disasters

The Philippines. Pakistan. New Orleans. Sri Lanka. All have suffered catastrophic disasters in recent times. And the emergence of “climate refugees” – populations displaced by extreme weather events…
Path of destruction: Haiyan makes landfall. AP Photo/Nelson Salting

Eyewitness: Typhoon Haiyan strikes the Philippines

The rain is ricocheting off the roads here in Manila. Early on Friday, our car’s tyres dragged in the deep puddles. Basketball courts - remnants of bygone American rule, and a staple of every district…
Firefighters have plenty of ideas about disaster management - so why don’t we listen? AAP/Dan Himbrechts

What firefighters say about climate change

You do not find many climate change sceptics on the end of [fire] hoses anymore… They are dealing with increasing numbers of fires, increasing rainfall events, increasing storm events. – A senior Victorian…
This rapacious little critter could actually help humans one day. Larah McElroy

Worker antics could lead us to search and rescue robots

When disaster strikes, search and rescue robots could save lives by finding and retrieving people buried under rubble. But designing robots that can descend rapidly through unstable and uneven rubble has…
Blackouts remind us what life was like before cheap, readily available electricity - but it’s time to think about the true price of our power. Candle in the dark image from www.shutterstock.com/Ronen

Save now, pay later: the hidden costs of lower electricity bills

No lights, no power, no internet - and no easy solutions. Fumbling around in a middle of a blackout, hoping to find a torch or some spare batteries, I was struck by just how utterly dependent most of us…
Natural disasters don’t just leave those affected rebuilding their lives but also struggling to find meaning behind the tragedy. Facebook CFA Victoria/AAP

Floods and fires: the struggle to rebuild, the search for meaning

This summer another bout of floods, fires, and cyclones has struck, culminating most recently in out-of-control fires across Victoria in which at least one home was lost. When we see the loss of property…
If we are plucking people from their roofs, we’re not communicating about disasters properly. AAP/AGL Action Rescue Helicopter

Planning for floods and fires now the recipe for disaster has changed

The floods in Queensland and Northern New South Wales and the extensive January bushfires which caused destruction across Tasmania, Victoria and New South Wales confirm that we need to rethink how we plan…
Bushfire affected property at Sommers Bay in Tasmania, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Residents of the worst-hit town Dunalley in the Tasmanian bushfires returned on Friday to see the full extent of the devastation. AAP/David Beniuk

Natural disasters have unexpected impacts on mental health

Radical circumstances (bushfires and natural disasters) flush out the mental illness in society. Whenever there’s a disaster, there’s a rush on hospital admissions for psychiatric problems. But on the…
There’s still much to learn about predicting the effect of hurricanes. NOAA

Blow by blow: why hurricane forecasts are improving

The profound impact caused by the storm that began as Hurricane Sandy has turned the spotlight on many issues, including forecasts. In short: how well was Sandy forecast, and where do our forecasts need…
Scientists need to feel confident to speak out about the dangers of coming extreme weather. Ramin Talai/EPA

Is Australia prepared for a storm like Sandy?

Last week the global landscape of mitigating and managing disasters changed forever. We heard the news of six Italian scientists charged for manslaughter and jailed for six years each for failing to predict…
The earthquake at l'Aquila was a tragedy, but blaming experts and governments doesn’t help. EPA/Grillo

Blame game the enemy of good policy when disaster strikes

The decision of an Italian Court to convict six scientists and one government official of manslaughter for the failure to predict the magnitude of a devastating earthquake in L’Aquila in central Italy…
Robert McClelland has a roadmap for a FEMA-like disaster management authority. AAP Image/Raoul Wegat

Australia can do better on managing disasters

Who comes to the rescue when there is a disaster? Who pays the bills? It is well accepted doctrine that in Australia the primary responsibility for protecting life and property lies with the states and…
Who’s responsible for this? Better disaster law could answer that question. AAP

Climate change, catastrophic risk and disaster law

On 28 March the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its full report on Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation (SREX). The IPCC’s essential…
People tend to think about sentimental items they’d collect when evacuating, rather than useful ones, such as medicines. Ralph Sanderson

Be prepared – thinking of your health during natural disasters

Disasters and extreme weather events often affect populated areas and yet few people consider that they’d be required to act as a “first responder” in their community before, during or after such events…
We can’t tame the oceans, but modelling can help us better understand them. Badruddeen

Super models – using maths to mitigate natural disasters

Last year will go on record as one of significant natural disasters both in Australia and overseas. Indeed, the flooding of the Brisbane River in January is still making news as the Queensland floods inquiry…
A memorial has been unveiled in flood-devastated Grantham as residents move to higher ground.

Moving Grantham? Relocating flood-prone towns is nothing new

Today marks a year since flooding devastated south-east Queensland. Research has shown that some of the worst effects of the floods were due to poor land-use planning. Since the floods, residents of the…
How does Queensland tourism recover after a cyclone and floods earlier this year? AFP Photo/Paul Crcok

Danger in paradise: resurrecting tourism after natural disasters

This year’s natural disasters have been an omnipresent and unwelcome theme impacting on tourism to Japan, New Zealand, Queensland and Thailand. Long after the initial horror of a natural disaster, the…
2011’s Cyclone Yasi was one of the strongest. dsleeter

Australia expecting an active cyclone season, but future cyclones still hard to predict

Tropical cyclones are one of the most destructive types of weather system on the planet. The obvious human interest in tropical cyclones is in their sheer power. Historically tropical cyclones have had…
Climate change will mean more natural disasters: let’s not be cynical about planning for them. AAP

Emergency Management at the cabinet table long overdue

Much of the commentary surrounding the Prime Minister’s new-look cabinet has focused on the promotion of her loyal lieutenants, Bill Shorten and Mark Arbib, and Nicola Roxon’s elevation to the Attorney-General…
We don’t know which storms will turn into deadly tornadoes. RAGardner4

Tornado Alley 3D: an authentic storm chasing experience

Everyone loves a good storm. Rolling thunder, a spectacular light show and fat drops of rain that make the earth smell like summer. Although thunderstorms are far more belligerent than your average cloud…
A long-term threat of natural disaster is likely to increase rates of anxiety among young people. AAP

Act now on climate change to protect Australians' mental health

In September 2010, BHP Billiton CEO Marius Kloppers proposed Australia take action on climate change before the rest of the world to maintain its international economic competitiveness. A report released…

Columnists (1)

How Earth’s devastating supervolcanoes erupt

Devastating supervolcanoes can erupt simply due to changes that happen in their giant magma chambers as they slowly cool, according to a new study. This finding marks the first time researchers have been…

Research and News (1)

Research Briefs (6)

How to predict a perfect storm

A study from Stanford University suggests that “perfect storm” disasters can be anticipated using an engineering risk analysis…

Birds wear stress in their feathers

The feathers of wild birds can be analysed to determine the effect natural- and human-caused disasters have on wild populations…