The Challenges of Emergency Risk Regulation
Edited by Alberto Alemanno
Chapter 11: Abrupt Environmental Changes: Scenario Planning for Catastrophic Security Risks
Chad Michael Briggs Environment risk assessment was originally developed largely for controlled situations, and despite signiﬁcant advances in methodologies over the years, still reﬂects limitations inherent both in our scientiﬁc understandings of events, and psychological limitations when dealing with catastrophes. The risks to operational and strategic planning often stem from a lack of experience with new or novel conditions, and proceed with assumptions that future projections will look very much like the present (March, 1988). It is therefore not surprising that when confronted with abrupt changes in operating assumptions, organizations operating under standardized methodologies and assumptions are often unable to respond effectively. Common reactions tend to be inadequate, and those who are responsible often suffer from paralysis until more information can be made available. It is not widely understood that complex systems often contain speciﬁc vulnerabilities to change, particularly if such changes are unanticipated and appear suddenly. The Eyjafjallajökull eruption of 2010 introduced abrupt environmental changes to European airspace, forcing large-scale cancellations of operations and disruption of international transport (Peterson, 2010). The indirect impacts of the volcanic ash plumes were also signiﬁcant, resulting in economic damages to economies and ﬁnancial stresses on speciﬁc industries. Responses from multiple affected stakeholders were disjointed, resulting from a lack of advanced planning, adequate communication channels between those in a position to respond, and the much needed trust (among empowered decision-makers) to deliberate adequately upon which risk values to consider in responding (Alemanno, Chapter 1; Brannigan, Chapter 7;...
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