High Impact/ Low Frequency extreme events: Enabling Reflection and Resilience in a Hyper-connected World
journal contributionposted on 30.01.2015, 10:25 by Nibedita S. Ray-Bennett, Anthony J. Masys, H. Shiroshita, Peter Jackson
Helbing (2013:51) poignantly argues that ‘Globalization and technological revolutions are changing our planet’. Along with the benefits and opportunities associated with worldwide collaboration networks comes ‘pathways along which dangerous and damaging events can spread rapidly and globally’. With our hyper-connected world underpinned by hyper or hybrid-risks, the impact of unexpected events such as floods, earthquakes, financial crisis, and cyber-attacks has revealed the fragility and vulnerabilities that lie within the social/technological/economic/political/ecological interdependent systems. In particular, events that affect critical infrastructure such as damage to electric power, telecommunications, transportation, health care systems, financial markets and water-supply systems can have local, regional and global impact. calls these extreme events ‘Black swans’ to describe their inherent quality of surprise. Many of the systemic risks that characterize Natural Hazard triggered Technological disasters (NATECH) often arise from unanticipated consequences of interactions within and between different types of systems. Johnson and Tivnan (2012:65) argue that, ‘…understanding, controlling and predicting extreme behavior [of NATECH] is an important strategic goal to support resilience planning’. In this light, a new paradigm is required to support disaster risk reduction (DRR) embedded in hyper-risks; one that will develop not only anticipatory measures for risk management but also prepare for the unpredictable and the ‘unknown’ by building organisational resilience for hyper-risks in general and NATECH disasters in particular. In this paper we explore the emergency management domain associated with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident to show the hyper-connectivity and hyper-risks that permeated the problem space and thereby show how ‘reflective responses’ underpinned by ‘critical reflective practices’ can be used to support resilience in such a complex disaster.