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An unexpected threat to humans and/or their property; a hazard includes both the event and its consequences. By this definition, the Indian monsoon is not a hazard, but its failure is. A natural event becomes a hazard through: the social processes which cause some people to be much more at risk from the effects of a hazard; a lack of options to minimize, or escape from, the effects of the hazard; the location of human settlement on potentially dangerous physical sites; the location of human settlement near potentially dangerous economic activity; and activities that aggravate events with natural causes.

‘As the range of hazards and vulnerabilities faced by any given community increases, it often becomes possible only to play one kind of risk off against another in search of a “less bad” scenario. Many highly vulnerable communities may deliberately choose to inhabit a hazard prone environment if this reduces other risks, related to income generation for example. Or, should they find themselves in hazard prone zones due to exclusion from formal land markets or for other reasons, they will many times opt to stay in order to maintain those conditions that provide them with the means to reduce daily life risk and vulnerability’ (UNDP Expert Group Meeting, Havana, 2002).

Hazard perception

is the view which an individual has of a hazard. Robertson (1999) Geog. Rev. 89, 4 compares the reality of the tornado hazard with the portrayal in movies, finding the latter seriously misleading. Walker et al. (2002) Appl. Geog. 20, 2 report on the failure of regulatory practice to distinguish hazards from industrial accidents. See cognitive dissonance.

Subjects: Earth Sciences and Geography.

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