by Michael Beck, via Planet Change
As a marine scientist, and surfer, I’m always initially surprised when I hear that many island folks, like most of my friends in Eleuthera (Bahamas, 25° 8′ 22″ N; 76° 8′ 59″ W), are scared of the sea. That’s of course before I quickly remind myself that people on Eleuthera (an island that averages about 2 miles wide across its 90 mile length), have survived one too many storms – like Hurricane Irene, whose eye gazed directly on them last August 25.
Indeed, like my friends in the Bahamas, billions of people around the world are exposed to risks from coastal storms and flooding – risks that are causing more costly damage to people and property than ever before. In fact, Munich Re estimated that the total cost of all natural disasters globally in 2011 reached an all-time high of $380 billion – almost double the previous record of $220 billion, set in 2005.
But not all storms and other natural hazards need to turn in to disasters. That is a core message of the just released 2012 World Risk Report, led by the Alliance for Development Works, United Nations University, ...