RUSSIAN JOURNAL OF EARTH SCIENCES VOL. 10, ES1004, doi:10.2205/2007ES000267, 2008

Damage from natural disasters: Fast growth of losses or stable ratio?

M. V. Rodkin
Geophysical Center, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

V. F. Pisarenko
International institute for earthquake prediction theory and mathematical geophysics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia


[1]  The analysis of an average amount of damage from natural disasters as in the death toll and in money equivalent allows to conclude a fast nonlinear growth of damage amount with time. The result was used to be ascribed to growth of population, development of potentially hazardous industries, and general deterioration of environment. Extrapolation of the tendency for an increase of average damage amount suggests that all the economic gain will be taken up by greater losses from natural disasters by the mid-XXI century. Empirically, the distribution of damage amount from disasters, as a rule, is governed by laws of the heavy tail of the distribution. However, an ordinary approach based on average values will be incorrect for such distributions, because in this case formally evaluated average values prove to be infinite. The application of statistically more correct approaches for description of disaster pattern results in qualitative change in prediction character. It becomes possible to establish limits of nonlinear growth of damage amount; while the comparison of the latter with data on social-economic development makes it possible to interpret damage pattern as an example of realization of principles in terms of the sustainable development concept. It turns out, that by increase of damage in cost, normalized values of losses tend to decrease with the social-economic development. The above analysis was based mainly on statistical data for seismic disasters, however, the authors believe that the results obtained, can be applied to other types of natural disasters as well.

Received 8 December 2007; accepted 18 January 2008; published 14 February 2008.

Keywords: natural disasters, hazards, risk, assessment.

Index Terms: 1240 Geodesy and Gravity: Satellite geodesy: results; 1242 Geodesy and Gravity: Seismic cycle related deformations; 8488 Volcanology: Volcanic hazards and risks.


Citation: Rodkin, M. V., and V. F. Pisarenko (2008), Damage from natural disasters: Fast growth of losses or stable ratio?, Russ. J. Earth Sci., 10, ES1004, doi:10.2205/2007ES000267.

Copyright 2008 by the Russian Journal of Earth Sciences
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