Man Made Disasters

Question 1: Do you expect an increasing number of infrastructure failures in the United States?

Yes. This can be majorly attributed to the human failures as previously observed to the high number of collapsing infrastructure such as the Minneapolis bridge collapse in 2007. According to the NTSB, the collapse was attributed to a design flaw. They were able to note that a thin gusset-plate had faulted along rivet lines, which resulted to the addition of exceeding weight and the consequent catastrophic collapse of the bridge. This failure according to human designs is under a multidimensional study called Human Factors Science. Thus, subsequent accidents as attributed to negligence by man are eminent.

As can be clearly depicted by both the living and non-living environment, aging is inevitable. Moreover, with increasing age, objects lose their viability, vigor, and tend to be less reliable than they were a few years before. The same is the case with infrastructure. Most of the infrastructure has become aged and dilapidated, therefore posing as a humongous risk of collapse in the future.

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Despite the efforts to rehabilitate such infrastructure, it becomes a potential hazard to a disaster, waiting for the perfect time to expose its self. An infrastructure disaster leads to many fatalities, loss of human lives, collateral damage, and financial losses of the government that tries to compensate some of these losses. Therefore, there stands a potentially imminent threat of infrastructure disaster in the coming years.

Globally, security has become an imminent threat. No one is assured of their safety anymore. This is attributed to the large number of terrorist activities that also serve as an imminent threat to the national security. Such threats are the result of retaliation by terrorist group’s even nations. The primary goal of terrorist groups is to cause maximum damage. Such groups often target high population areas. As a basic requirement of life, people need movement to cover their basic needs. The most common means of transportation worldwide are railroads and simple roads. In America, the statistics indicates that the number people who use the rail transportation is a staggering 17.4 billion people annually (Neff & Dickens, 2013). With such high frequencies of people movement, transport systems become an imminent target for the terrorist attacks since they most often than not target the highly populated areas. Thus, the chances that attack are imminent on Americas infrastructure is at an ever-rising statistic.

When trying to answer the question as to what can be done in order to address them, one should state the following. In an effort to mitigate the problems associated with infrastructure disasters, the National Transport Safety Board has gone a long way in the reduction of the frequencies of infrastructure-related disasters. It has gone ahead to ensure that infrastructure systems are in the perfect condition by ensuring regular checkups on the infrastructure systems. This has helped reduce the number infrastructure-related disasters. The county governments and the national government also ensure that the give prompt warnings to the people who are at a higher possibility of being at risk. For example, the governor of California issued placed a state of emergency on the possibility of their levee breaking. This was a preventive measure instead of having to mitigate the problem. Other states, such as Florida that also has the levee system, constantly inspect their levees to prevent the occurrence of such disasters.

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Question 2: What does Cohen’s article tell us about the effects of man-made structures and how to properly approach them?

According to Cohen, the effects of manmade disasters can be approached in a more appropriate method. He suggests that the losses caused by manmade disasters, as far as toxic waste is concerned, could be less than the levels portrayed in mass media. The actual social losses as the result of the toxic spills may be less than it appears if only a different approach to the situation were used in estimating the stated disaster costs. Cohen based his study upon the Exxon Valdez spill of 1989 (Picou, Gill, & Cohen, 1999). He suggested the use of a market model structure, whereby he supported his claims using four main points. One point was that the number of imported salmon greatly increased during this period, which subsequently resulted in the drop of purchased Alaskan salmon. He also noted that Tokyo traders had also stopped their vigorous fishing activities before the spill. He noted as well that in the year of the spill, the salmon hatcheries had extensive sales. Cohen also attributed the global recession that caused fluctuations in exchange rates and directly influenced fish sales internationally. Thus, his point of view showed that, as much as the oil spill had caused a lot of environmental damage, numerous advantages also resulted from the same, as a natural complex means of mitigating the oil spillage problem. Other famous scholars who also shared Cohen’s school of thought include Steven Picou as well as Duane Gill and Maurie J. Cohen in their coauthored book The Exxon Valdez Disaster.

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Some disaster analysts support Cohen’s analysis claims. Thus, Lori M. Hunter in her analysis of mitigation and environmental hazards has also come forward to support Cohen’s claims of environmental disasters causing short-term economic gains to the impacted populations. Both authors suggest that inadequate research on this subject is actually done in order to establish the actual economic impact as the result of such catastrophes. In her analysis, Huner (2000) gives hypothetical instances in support of this claim.


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