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Society For Risk Analysis Annual Meeting 2008

Risk Analysis: the Science and the Art

Session Schedule & Abstracts

* Disclaimer: All presentations represent the views of the authors, and not the organizations that support their research. Please apply the standard disclaimer that any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations in abstracts, posters, and presentations at the meeting are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of any other organization or agency. Meeting attendees and authors should be aware that this disclaimer is intended to apply to all abstracts contained in this document. Authors who wish to emphasize this disclaimer should do so in their presentation or poster. In an effort to make the abstracts as concise as possible and easy for meeting participants to read, the abstracts have been formatted such that they exclude references to papers, affiliations, and/or funding sources. Authors who wish to provide attendees with this information should do so in their presentation or poster.

Common abbreviations

Ecosystem Risk Management

Room: Stone   10:30 AM-Noon

Chair(s): John Watt

W2-H.1  10:30  Risk Communication In Global Climate Change: Policy Issues and Challenges For Nigeria. Olorunfemi F.B*, Raheem U.A; 1. Federal Research Institute, 2. Federal University

Abstract: Nigeria and its people are expected to be most affected by climate change through sea level rise along its coastline, intensified desertification, erosion, flood disasters, and general land degradation. Although Nigeria has signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention for Climate Change, much still needs to be done to develop local awareness, knowledge and expertise. To make informed decisions about climate change, policy-makers will need timely and useful information about the possible consequences of climate change, people’s perceptions of those consequences, available adaptation options, and the benefits of slowing the rate of climate change. Perhaps the biggest obstacle to reducing the impact of climate change in Nigeria is lack of awareness and knowledge. Lack of information and knowledge about climate change also means that many Nigerians are reluctant to accept the reality. As well, there is a lack of public policy, government preparedness and commitment to promoting climate change adaptation strategies in the country. Given the existing low level of awareness about climate change in Nigeria, the way the risk of climate change is presented to the public will determine the way the public will take it and react to it. Fortunately, there is the prospect that the connection between climate change and its impacts, once established by the public, will invigorate the debate on the scale and nature of action to be taken. There is, therefore, need for studies that will develop frameworks for methodology to assess the status of public awareness among the populations in Nigeria on climate change, coping mechanisms and adaptation strategies. Using empirical methods and analysis, this study addressed these issues and justified the need to integrate people’s knowledge and understanding of climate change and potential response measures into existing development frameworks, particularly those which promote participation of stakeholders in Nigeria.

W2-H.2  10:50  Designing environmental risk indicators to motivate sustainable behavior. Turaga RMR*, Borsuk M; Dartmouth College

Abstract: Meaningful indicators of environmental risk may serve the purpose of motivating stakeholders toward sustainable action. Scientifically-derived indicators, however, often lack salience to the public and decision makers. In this paper, we draw on theories of pro-environmental behavior from environmental psychology to develop hypotheses about the type of indicators that are likely to motivate sustainable action. Based on norm activation theory and the value-belief-norms theory, we hypothesize that indicators designed specifically to activate personal moral norms are more likely to motivate behavior that benefits the environment than indicators derived strictly according to scientific criteria. More specifically, we suggest that the most effective indicators are those which: (1) expose adverse consequences to objects closely associated with people’s personal values and (2) highlight individual responsibility for alleviating those adverse consequences. We test our hypotheses using a questionnaire survey of a random sample of respondents in New England.

W2-H.3  11:10  The Role of Public Safety in the Sustainable Risk Management of Urban Trees. Watt JM, Ball DJ*, Fay N; Centre for Decision Analysis and Risk Management, Middlesex University (JW and DB) and Treeworks Environmental Practice (NF)

Abstract: There has been increasing concern and uncertainty within the arboricultural sector and amongst landowners in Europe, and especially in the UK, about the management of trees from a human safety perspective. This has been stimulated by a handful of court cases and other responses to incidents involving tree failure and the public. The concepts of reasonableness and ‘So Far As Is Reasonably Practicable (SFAIRP). are important in underpinning the allocation of resources to the management of risk in society but are by no means universally understood. This has contributed to behaviours ranging from acting in a way which reduces risk at any cost, to doing nothing at all. At the same time, risk assessment and risk management have sometimes acquired a dubious reputation in the public mind, through the banning and demolition of many things that people have traditionally valued. This paper describes a stakeholder engagement process that seeks to provide a means by which this matter can be tackled, confidence restored, and an acceptable tree management regime, consistent with wider societal aspirations, be implemented. Data have been gathered to provide the most authoritative reference in the UK to quantify the risk of harm from accidents involving tree failure, which will be used to place the risk posed by trees in perspective. This will be presented as a) a comparison with other risks which people face, and b) by comparison against the criteria described by the UK Health and Safety Executive in its ‘Tolerability of Risk’ framework. The paper will also discuss preliminary findings of research on ways that public outrage and, especially, practitioner perceptions of being under pressure from the legal and insurance sectors may act to cause a potential distortion of the usual balance between the cost and difficulty of control of a hazard, and the benefits of control (risk reduction) in tree risk management.

W2-H.4  11:30  Seismic and volcanic risk in the Azores: reasons to stay in endangered places. Rego IE*, Arroz AM, Palos AC; University of the Azores

Abstract: Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have been regular phenomena throughout the Azores’ six centuries of history. In spite of the knowledge already gathered by local historians and Earth sciences researchers, there are no scientific data on the socio-cultural dimensions of volcanic and seismic risks. A study – TOPOI METUS. Social cosmographies of danger. Risk perception of natural hazards – is being carried out in order to construct and validate an instrument capable of (1) characterizing volcanic and seismic risk perception in the archipelago; and (2) producing knowledge to clarify communication aspects such as: Who do people trust? What forms, strategies, and means of communication do people value most? and What functions should risk messages serve? To guarantee that the questionnaire is sensitive to the Azorean context, to the historical mysticism embedded in natural disasters, and to people’s identification and emotional relationship with the place, thirty extensive interviews were conducted. The present communication focuses on the instrument features and construction process, and discusses data collected in interviews. Consistent with findings from other studies, “Being in the hands of God” and a strong identification with the living place emerge as common reasons appointed to by people who live in and insist in staying in a vulnerable area such as the Azores.

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