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The Vulnerability of Science and the Science of Vulnerability

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The events of September 11th shocked the nation and painfully illustrated our vulnerability to international terrorist attacks. Despite some of the most sophisticated models, monitoring systems, and science in the world, officials were unable to anticipate and predict these cascading events. The collective scientific ability to geographically represent environmental threats, map exposures, and map consequences is relatively straightforward when the threats are recognized. But what happens when we cannot recognize threats or some of their unintended consequences? This article examines the twin issues of the inadequacies in our current modes of understanding (the vulnerability of science) and the need for more integrative approaches in understanding and responding to environmental hazards (vulnerability science).

Keywords: September 11th; geographical understanding; hazards; vulnerability

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2003-03-01

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