The Disaster Experts

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Historian Scott Gabriel Knowles tells how a diverse collection of professionals—insurance inspectors, engineers, scientists, journalists, public officials, civil defense planners, and emergency managers—emerged as the authorities on risk and disaster and, in the process, shaped modern America. The Disaster Experts: Mastering Risk in Modern America offers historical context for understanding who the experts are that influence decisions, how they became powerful, and why they are only slightly closer today than a decade ago to protecting the public from disasters.


Scott Gabriel Knowles

Comments [9]

Amy from Manhattan

The way builders kept saying they couldn't afford to build to code reminds me of all the corporations' saying meeting higher anti-smog standards will cost too much. But agreements were reached in the former cases. How were they reached, & could the same process be applied to the tighter smog controls that Pres. Obama backed off from last week?

Sep. 08 2011 12:33 PM
KnowTheFacts from Westfield

If our country's disaster experts need to learn from tragedies, why hasn't NIST provided the data model and parameters for the World Trade Center buildings?

Sep. 08 2011 12:32 PM
KnowTheFacts from Westfield

@Athenis: Contrary to widely promoted misconceptions, the Boeing 767-200s used on 9/11/01 were only slightly larger than 707s and DC 8s, the types of jetliners whose impacts the World Trade Center's designers anticipated.

Sep. 08 2011 12:29 PM
Athenis Trakis from Greenwood Lake, NY

According to a Frontline segment on the WTC disaster, the architects at the time of design, calculated steel resistance for fires that would be caused by an airliner's fuel capacity for the time. The jets that were utilized in this event were far bigger in size, thus carrying a far larger payload of fuel causing higher than anticipated temps resulting in the inevitable buckling and failure of support beams.

Sep. 08 2011 12:24 PM
leo in staten island

I was just curious about some of the more radical notions for escaping from a high-rise tower that were floated after 9/11. I remember ideas about "escape chutes" and personal parachutes and the like. Have any of these gained any traction at all? Thanks!

Sep. 08 2011 12:23 PM
KnowTheFacts from Westfield, NJ

If the 'Pancake' theory was true, there would be a stack of rubble of floors instead of the floors turning into dust. Unfortunately, NIST still hasn't released the computer model for peer review of their analysis.

Sep. 08 2011 12:23 PM
DarkSymbolist from NYC!

It's laughable to blame FEMA for an attitude that is so ingrained in American culture and ridiculous

Sep. 08 2011 12:19 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Only if FEMA is put out of business, and people learn that if they buy or build on land that is inherently in a high risk area , and that they cannot count on taxpayers bailing them out if they don't have adequate insurance, only then will behaviors change.

Clearly, disasters can and do happen everyplace, but in areas where scientists see is very hazardous, those who buy and sell properties should be forewarned.

Sep. 08 2011 12:16 PM
Nancy from Manhattan

Last night, Ron Paul blamed FEMA for Americans frequently choosing to build in flood-prone areas. They wouldn't build there if that darned FEMA didn't throw money at them after their towns flood.

Sep. 08 2011 12:14 PM

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