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Technological Disasters, They're Going to Get Worse

I've learned that disaster situations can be boiled down to just a few basics:
  1. Known threats that will have more to impact and strike an increasingly unhealthy population
  2. Technological failures that will cause enough problems on their own and will have a far reaching impact as our infrastructure becomes more technological dependent 
  3. New and exciting ways of deploying known threats
  4. Emerging threats that have not been discovered yet.
We'll stick with technological failures for this post. As a side note; some consider technological failures synonymous with man-made disasters while others differentiate the two.  I'm happily non-committed on this point but tend to blend them together, depending on the situation.

Okay, on to technological failures and why I think they're going to get worse. Despite the terrible ecological impact the BP oil rig disaster is creating, when discussed in terms of human lives and impact, it will be fairly limited (with respect to all those whose livelihood depends on the environment and tourism).

A few areas of concern:
Evacuation...or lack of. The lack of access to mass evacuation transportation, limited warning, and spotty notification or call to action set the stage for a major metropolitan area and its population to remain at risk. And while we're on the topic of populations; it is important to state that our population in general is getting older and living with more medical problems.

Reliance on technology...good news, bad news. One technological addiction we have is electricity. Although numerous sources have highlighted the fragile state of our power grid, little has been done to harden this frail piece of critical infrastructure.

The "techno-failure chain reaction" scenario. Not only will technological failures lead to possible disaster situations, the chain reaction within our techno-dependent societies will turn a little crisis into a disaster. Consider the toxicity of today's building materials and the inability to evacuate large numbers of people from high rise structures or sprawling living centers.

Lets end with a quote from E.L. Quarantelli of the Disaster Research Center, on the topic of technology;
"...if the technology was created by human being and developed by social groups, it was inevitable that there would be accidents and disasters."

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