World expert on climate and catastrophe Dr Robert Muir-Wood questions why so many people continue to be the victims of natural disasters when we have the expertise to both anticipate them and predict their impacts down to the level of specific buildings.
Muir-Wood says there has been a revolution in our understanding of catastrophes, yet, since 2000, they have killed more people than ever before. He questions why no-one considered that a tsunami could disable the Fukushima nuclear power plant and why so many had to die in New Orleans as a result of flooding caused by Katrina. He argues that we have an extraordinary opportunity to save millions of lives by changing what we build, where we live and how warnings are communicated.
Muir-Wood is head of research at the world’s largest catastrophe modelling company, RMS. He has been a lead author on two Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports, including the Nobel Peace Prize-winning 4th Assessment.