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The Multi-Hazards Podcast

all about protecting communities . . . 

Aug 6, 2021

Can our response to disasters make things worse? How is it that our attempts to reduce risk or “build back better” mostly exacerbate social inequalities? And what can we do about it? Join Dr. Gonzalo Lizarralde as he shares his new book, Unnatural Disasters: Why Most Responses to Risk and Climate Change Fail but Some Succeed. Have a listen!

Study Guide only at this link at the left labelled "PDF":

Topics include:
* How the pandemic has affected different people, like the elderly, and society as a whole.
* How corruption, racism, colonialism, personal vendettas, etc. all create risks.
* The importance of finding the root causes of disasters.
* Why being labelled "vulnerable" may lead to stigma.
* Why being labelled "resilient" may lead to unrealistic hopes about your capabilities.
* Beyond disaster statistics there are real humans with pain.
* How functioning in three "worlds" (English, French, Spanish) has allowed Gonzalo to identify with people in his work.
* How Naomi Klein's theme of disaster capitalism from The Shock Doctrine applies to "unnatural disasters" in the 2020s.
* What are the long-term impacts of past imperialism and recent neoliberalism?
* How the Global North continues to abuse and colonise the Global South in dealing with disasters.
* Why corporate sustainability with the blessing of government is a failure.
* How sustainable growth exacerbates the climate crisis and environmental destruction.
* How disaster donations often never make it to those affected by disasters.
* What are ways we can really benefit vulnerable peoples before, during and after disasters?
* Why listening to people on the ground level and ensuring their decision-making power is best.

Dr. Gonzalo Lizarralde’s Bio:

Gonzalo Lizarralde is a professor of architecture at the Université de Montréal, where he holds the Fayolle-Magil Construction Chair in Architecture, Built Environment, and Sustainability. He is the director of the Canadian Disaster Resilience and Sustainable Reconstruction Research Alliance. His books include The Invisible Houses: Rethinking and Designing Low-Cost Housing in Developing Countries (2014).

Gonzalo’s latest book, Unnatural Disasters: Why Most Responses to Risk and Climate Change Fail but Some Succeed, was published by Columbia University Press in 2021. LINK:

Description of his new book, Unnatural Disasters:

Storms, floods, fires, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, and other disasters seem not only more frequent but also closer to home. As the world faces this onslaught, we have placed our faith in “sustainable development,” which promises that we can survive and even thrive in the face of climate change and other risks. Yet while claiming to “go green,” we have instead created new risks, continued to degrade nature, and failed to halt global warming.

Unnatural Disasters offers a new perspective on our most pressing environmental and social challenges, revealing the gaps between abstract concepts like sustainability, resilience, and innovation and the real-world experiences of the people living at risk. Gonzalo Lizarralde explains how the causes of disasters are not natural but all too human: inequality, segregation, marginalization, colonialism, neoliberalism, racism, and unrestrained capitalism. He tells the stories of Latin American migrants, Haitian earthquake survivors, Canadian climate activists, African slum dwellers, and other people resisting social and environmental injustices around the world. Lizarralde shows that most reconstruction and risk-reduction efforts exacerbate social inequalities. Some responses do produce meaningful changes, but they are rarely the ones powerful leaders have in mind.

This book reveals how disasters have become both the causes and consequences of today’s most urgent challenges and proposes achievable solutions to save a planet at risk, emphasizing the power citizens hold to change the current state of affairs.

Intro: "Ten Inch Spikes" by Jeremy Korpas on Youtube Audio Library
Outro: "Amor Chiquito" by Quincas Moreira on Youtube Audio Library
Episode Collage Photos: Young people: Helena Lopes on Unsplash, Hands: Stokpic on Pixabay, John Middelkoop on Unsplash, Medellín, Colombia: Daniel Vargas on Unsplash, Caution: Vin Nelsen; Older man: Pxhere and Unsplash