Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dealing with "Stealth Disasters"

In this year's plenary address at the AAAS meeting in Chicago, geologist Susan Kieffer compared slow developing problems like ocean acidification, spreading deserts, dry aquifers, and degraded soils as "stealth disasters" with natural disasters such as floods, and warned that they "will undermine our survival."

Stealth disasters are those caused by humans that involve the natural systems we live with. They have a gradual onset but with near-term consequences. These are generally new to the human experience, so we are struggling to comprehend them and learn how to deal with them. [right, low water in Lake Mead. Credit Nat'l Park Service]

She called for the creation of a "CDC for Planet Earth" that "could respond to planetary threats with the same coordination that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed during the SARS and bird flu outbreaks of the late 1990s."

The video of her talk is now posted online along with the slides from her presentation.

No comments:

Post a Comment