Living with natural disaster risk – can science lead to more resilient New Zealanders?
Five years on from the Christchurch earthquakes, the words "EQC", "liquefaction" and "seismic retrofit" have entered our collective vocabulary. Recovery has proven a disputed path to an elusive goal, and now science is charged with discovering the elixir of resilience. Defend or rebuild? Centralise or disperse? Insure or regulate? Science can illuminate a fraction of our hazardous future, and it can dissect the mistakes of the past, but can it actually help us to prepare better personal, business and community responses to disasters? Or is adversity the real driver of resilience innovation – is it only by living through disaster that we gain the skills to plan and cope better?
Shane Cronin is Professor of Volcanic Geology at the University of Auckland's School of Environment. He specialises in natural disaster risk and risk education, and is the Establishment-phase Director of the Resilience to Nature's Challenges National Science Challenge.