1990: Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction

by Teresa Austin, Assistant Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1989, Vol. 59, Issue 12, Pg. 64-65

Document Type: Feature article


The loss from natural disasters is extensive. Earthquakes, windstorms, floods, landslides, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and insect infestations have caused the deaths of nearly three million people, and the injury or displacement of more than 800 million over the past 20 years. Knowing this, National Academy of Sciences president Frank Press, in a speech at the 1984 World Conference on Earthquake Engineering, called for an international effort to reduce devastation. The United Nations General Assembly has now declared the 1990s as the Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction and has encouraged member countries to form national committees. The United States Committee (led by Dr. Richard E. Hallgren, executive director of the American Meteorological Society) hopes that the decade will become a tool in educating the general public and lawmakers as to available hazard reducing methods. Disaster resistant construction, retrofit techniques, land planning, erosion control, reforestation, dam and levee construction, and early warning systems are all available, but not always employed due to economics, politics, or ignorance.

Subject Headings: Disaster warning systems | Natural disasters | Earthquakes | Infrastructure construction | Floods | Landslides | Volcanic eruption | Wild fires

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