What it's about:
Despite major advances in science and monitoring technology, volcanic eruptions remain extremely unpredictable.
Ecuador’s Cotopaxi Volcano started spewing ash in 2015, triggering a state of emergency, but a major eruption has yet to take place. This poses a serious challenge to officials who have to communicate the volcanic risk to residents.
Warning signs of volcanic activity can provide adequate evacuation time, but also create conditions of extreme uncertainty, writes Jon Mikel Walton, from the World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, in a blog post.
He outlines the difficulties surrounding effective communication for volcanic eruptions, noting that the alarm is frequently only sounded when it is already too late to evacuate. Overwhelmed by the looming threat, governments become paralysed and too often choose to do nothing, according to Walton.
Compounding uncertainty should not stop governments worldwide from taking action to ensure the safety and prosperity of communities at risk, he argues.
Why it's noteworthy:
Major cities worldwide, including Tokyo, Naples and Manila, are directly exposed to volcanic risk, experts warn.
Over the past decade, volcanic eruptions in Mexico, Colombia, Italy and the Philippines have claimed tens of thousands of lives and resulted in billions of dollars of economic losses.
More than one billion people live within 150 kilometres of an active volcano, according to a new volcano model from Swiss Re.
This global threat warrants a serious discussion among disaster risk experts and governments. Global collaboration and effective disaster mapping could help mitigate future disasters.
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