Society for the Social Studies of Science (4S) Response
Prepared by Scott Gabriel Knowles (Drexel University) and Kim Fortun (RPI)
2 July 2014
1. What are the key contributions that science has made over the past decade related to understanding and managing disaster risk? What are the gaps that science needs to address?
+In the physical sciences, advances in meteorological technique has made it possible to predict hurricanes with much greater specificity. When advance warning systems are in place and functioning well, this means that evacuation orders will be backed up by reliable information—and ultimately that more people who should evacuate will evacuate ahead of a storm.
+Developments in social media makes it possible now for emergency managers and first responders to update disaster information in real time (in fires, floods, and other incidents), and to reach broader populations with warnings.
+Advances in remote sensing technology makes it more likely that technological disasters (chemical, radiation, pollution) may be monitored cheaply and effectively.
+Climate and associated sciences have sharpened predictions of sea risk, adverse weather events and other disaster risk factors.
+ Social scientists have advanced understanding of disaster vulnerability through characterization of the structural position of different social groups, of organizational readiness to deal with risk and disaster, and of governance capacity at different scales.
+ Social scientists have identified both failures and best practices of law, regulation and accountability at all stages of the disaster cycle.
+ Social scientists have advanced conceptualization of “disaster” to accommodate a timeframe stretched to include conditions leading to disaster, and long, complex aftermaths, often implicating future generations.
+Meteorological and climate prediction science, despite major advances, still lacks adequate funding in order to do the calculations necessary to determine plausible impacts.
+Despite advances in techniques of prediction and warning, publics both in industrialized and non-industrialized countries often fail to follow warnings and evacuation orders. More social science research is necessary to understand the nature of trust in communities when it comes to disaster preparedness and evacuation.
+Social science is still lacking in the area of explaining the role that the public can/should play as citizen experts—especially in monitoring industrial and other technological risks.
+Social science is still struggling to understand why “slow disasters” like climate change does not penetrate public opinion in many nations (especially the US) enough to shape aggressive policy responses.
+Further research to understand both failures and best practices of law, regulation and accountability at all stages of the disaster cycle is needed, recognizing different cultural contexts.
2. What are the key priority areas related to disaster risk reduction and resilience building that need to be incorporated into the post-2015 Framework on disaster risk reduction?
+There should be continued emphasis on vulnerable populations and divergent effects of disasters based on factors of race, income, nationality, gender, age, and ethnicity.
+There should be emphasis on disasters not as “fast” events with response and recovery phases—but also as slow and chronic events, where recovery will be extremely hard to measure—in other words environmental degradation, unsustainable land use, and technological risk-taking (chemicals, petroleum, radiation) should be scrutinized.
+Protocols on climate change, radiation and nuclear power, and disaster victim identification, and emergency management capacity should continue to be developed.
+There needs to be continual assessment of the numbers and training of people with different kinds of expertise needed to predict, prepared for, respond to and assesses disasters of different kinds. Declining numbers of experts in hydrology have received international attention, for example.
3. How can science and technology support the definition, implementation and monitoring of the post-2015 Framework on disaster risk reduction?
+There should be continual integration of science, engineering, and social science research communities around areas of cross-cutting concern: vulnerability, climate change, pollution, infrastructure, and land use, for example. This happens through publications, meetings, public events, and the preparation of shared documents, media, websites, and public interventions.
+There should be much greater involvement of vulnerable populations, and victims in the discussions of disaster science—victims bear witness to the impacts of rampant development and risk-taking in ways that harness moral authority and channel public opinion.
+Conflicts of interests are a persistent problem in disaster management, calling for vigilant critical analysis of forces shaping problem identification and response in disaster contexts. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan has noted how pressure from industry and free trade agreements impacts public health initiatives, for example (Chan 2013). As such, it is critical to develop structures and processes for transparency and accountability, and training programs in disaster ethics. Inclusive processes that include people from impacted populations, researchers from different disciplines, and other stakeholders also can also enhance disaster ethics.
Chan, Margaret. 2013. “WHO Director-General addresses health promotion conference.” Geneva: World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2013/health_promotion_20130610/en/. Accessed April 6, 2014.
Beamish, Thomas D. 2002. Silent Spill: The Organization of an Industrial Crisis. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Bond, David. 2011. “’An Uncontrollable Science Experiment’: The BP Oil Spill and the Politics of Disaster Science.” Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Social Studies of Science, Cleveland, November 2-5.
Button, Gregory. 2010. Disaster Culture: Knowledge and Uncertainty in the Wake of Human and Environmental Catastrophe. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press.
Carroll, Patrick. 2006. Science, Culture, and Modern State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Clarke, Lee. 1999. Mission Improbable: Using Fantasy Documents to Tame Disaster. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Collins, Harry and Robert Evans. 2007. Rethinking Expertise. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Comfort, Louise K. 2005. “Risk, security, and disaster management,” Annual Review of Political Science. Vol. 8: 335-356.
Daston, Lorraine, and Peter Galison. 2007. Objectivity. New York: Zone Books.
Dowty, Rachel and Barbara Allen (eds.). 2011. Dynamics of Disaster: Lessons in Risk, Response, and Recovery. London: Earthscan.
Epstein, Steven. 2007. Inclusion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Fortun, Kim. 2009. “Environmental Right-To-Know and the Transmutations of Law” in Catastrophe: Law, Politics and the Humanitarian Impulse, edited by Austin Sarat. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.
—– 2004. “From Bhopal to the Informating of Environmental Health: Risk Communication in Historical Perspective,” OSIRIS 19/1: pp283-296. Special Issue, “Landscapes of Exposure: Knowledge and Illness in Modern Environments,” edited by Gregg Mitman, Michelle Murphy and Christopher Sellers.
—–. 2001. Advocacy After Bhopal: Environmentalism, Disaster, New Global Orders. University of Chicago Press. (awarded the 2003, biannual Sharon Stephens Prize by the American Ethnological Society)
Frickel, Scott. 2008. “On Missing New Orleans: Lost Knowledge and Knowledge Gaps in an Urban Hazardscape” Environmental History 13(4):634-650.
Frickel, Scott. 2011. “Do Disasters Change Scientific Fields?” Invited paper, presented at the annual meetings of the American Sociological Association, Las Vegas, August 20-24.
Frickel, Scott, Richard Campanella and M. Bess Vincent. 2009. “Mapping Knowledge Investments in the Aftermath of Hurricane Katrina: A New Approach for Assessing Regulatory Agency Responses to Environmental Disaster.” Environmental Science & Policy 12(2):119-133.
Frickel, Scott and Michelle Edwards. Forthcoming. “Untangling Ignorance in Environmental Risk Assessment.” In Powerless Science? The Making of the Toxic World in the Twentieth Century, Soraya Boudia and Nathalie Jas, editors. Oxford and New York: Berghahn Books.
Frickel, Scott and M. Bess Vincent. 2011. “Katrina’s Contamination: Regulatory Knowledge Gaps in the Making and Unmaking of Environmental Contention,” In Dynamics of Disaster: Lessons in Risk, Response, and Recovery, eds. Rachel A. Dowty and Barbara L. Allen. London: Earthscan, 11-28.
—–. 2010. “Disaster Science: Between Calamity and Recovery,” Items and Issues, online newsletter of the Social Sciences Research Council (http://itemsandissues.ssrc.org/disaster-science-between-calamity-and-recovery; published August 24, 2010).
—–. 2007. “Katrina, Contamination, and the Unintended Organization of Ignorance.” Technology in Society, 29:181-188.
Frickel, Scott, Jeffrey Wickliffe, Daniel Nguyen, Loc Nguyen, Thien Nguyen, and Ricky Spriggins. 2011. “Citizen Science in the Gulf of Mexico.” Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Social Studies of Science, Cleveland, November 2-5.
Frodeman, Robert, Julie Thompson Klein, and Carl Mitcham (eds.). 2011. The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. New York: Oxford University Press.
Glik, Deborah C. 2007. “Risk communication for public health emergencies,” Annual Review of Public Health 28:33-54.
Gross, Matthias. 2010. Ignorance and Surprise: Science, Society, and Ecological Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Hess, David J. 2007. Alternative Pathways in Science and Industry. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Kirsch, Stuart. 2006. Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press.
Kleinenberg, Eric. 2002. Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Knorr Cetina, Karin. 1999. Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Knowles, Scott. 2011. The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press.
Lakoff, Andrew. 2010a. “Too big to fail: Catastrophic risk after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.” Items and Issues, online newsletter of the Social Sciences Research Council (http://itemsandissues.ssrc.org/too-big-to-fail; published August 23, 2010).
—– (ed.). 2010b. Disaster and the Politics of Intervention. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010.
McCormick, Sabrina. 2011. “Techno-legal Aspects of the British Petroleum Oil Spill: Risk Assessment, Citizen Science and Disaster Recovery.” Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Social Studies of Science, Cleveland, November 2-5.
Mileti, Dennis. 1999. Disasters by design: a reassessment of natural hazards in the United States. Washington, DC: Joseph Henry Press.
National Research Council. 2011. Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters: The Perspective from the Gulf Coast of Louisiana: Summary of a Workshop.
Steve Olson, Rapporteur; Committee on Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters.
National Science Foundation, 2001, “Disasters and Hazard Mitigation: Living More Safely on a Restless Planet,” The National Science Foundation: America’s Investment in the Future, 2000; http://www.nsf.gov/about/history/nsf0050/pdf/mitigation.pdf
National Science Foundation. 2012. Science and Engineering Indicators – 2012. Arlington, VA (NSB 12-01); http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/ (accessed Jan. 31, 2012).
Oliver-Smith, Anthony. 1996. “Anthropological research on hazards and disasters.” Annual Review of Anthropology.25: 303-328.
Olson, Valerie. 2011. “Pricing ‘Natural Treasures’ and ‘Animal Ghosts’: Natural and Social Science Collaborations to Financialize Gulf Ecosystems and the Deepwater Horizon Disaster.” Paper presented at the annual meetings of the Society for Social Studies of Science, Cleveland, November 2-5.
Parthasarathy, Shobita. 2007. Building Genetic Medicine: Breast Cancer, Technology, and the Comparative Politics of Health Care. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Perrow, Charles. 1984. Normal Accidents: Living with High-Risk Technologies. NY: Basic Books.
Proctor, Robert N. and Londa Schiebinger (eds.). 2009. Agnotology: The Making and Unmaking of Ignorance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Quarantelli, E.L. (ed). 1998. What is a Disaster? A Dozen Perspectives on the Question. London: Routledge.
Rarieya, Marie and Kim Fortun. 2010. “Food Security and Seasonal Climate Information: Kenyan Challenges,” Sustainability Science. Special Issue, “Land Use and Environmental Sustainability.” Issue 1.
Reardon, Jenny. 2005. Race to the Finish: Identity and Governance in an Age of Genomics. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Steven Shapin and Simon Schaffer. 1985. Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Shrum, Wesley. 2010. “Negotiating Neutrality: Hurricane Katrina and the Failure of STS.” Unpublished manuscript.
Smithson, Michael. 1990. “Ignorance and Disasters” International Journal of Mass Emergencies and Disasters 8(3):207-235.
Steinberg, Laura J., Victoria Basolo, Raymond Burby, Joyce N. Levine, and Ana Maria Cruz. 2004. “Joint Seismic and Technological Disasters: Possible Impacts and Community Preparedness in an Urban Setting.” Natural Hazards Review 5(4): 159-169.
Steinberg, Laura J., Hatice Sengul, and Ana Maria Cruz. 2008. “Natech Risk and Management: An Assessment of the State of the Art.” Natural Hazards 46:143-152.
Tierney, Kathleen J. 2007. “From the Margins to the Mainstream? Disaster Research at the Crossroads,” Annual Review of Sociology 33:503-525.
Traweek, Sharon. 1988. Beamtimes and Lifetimes: The World of High Energy Physicists. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Vaughan, Diane. 1996. The Challenger Launch Decision: Risky Technology, Culture, and Deviance at NASA. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Vos, Femke, Jose Rodriguez, Regina Below and D. Guha-Sapir. 2010. Annual Disaster
Statistical Review 2009: The Numbers and Trends. Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters: Brussels, Belgium.
Wynne, Brian. 1996. “May the Sheep Safely Graze? A Reflexive View of the Expert-Lay Knowledge Divide.” In Risk, Environment, and Modernity: Towards a New Ecology, edited by S. Lash, B. Szerszynski, and B. Wynne. London: Sage, 27-83.