recentpopularlog in

jerryking : catastrophes   27

Engaging with the world’s ills beats hiding in a bunker
OCTOBER 18, 2018 | Financial Times | Stephen Foley.

those with real ambition are not planning for a life underground down under. They are building philanthropic ventures to tackle the world’s ills, or striving to effect change through the political process, or starting new mission-driven businesses.

The bunker mentality is the polar opposite of the optimism displayed by the likes of Jeff Bezos, who set out his philanthropic credo in September alongside his plan to build a network of Montessori-inspired preschools across the US. He talked of his “belief in the potential for hard work from anyone to serve others”, from “business innovators who invent products that empower, authors who write books that inspire, government officials who serve their communities, teachers, doctors, carpenters, entertainers who make us laugh and cry, parents who raise children who go on to live lives of courage and compassion”.

“It fills me with gratitude and optimism,” he said, “to be part of a species so bent on self-improvement.”

Bezos has decided to focus his charity on children, as many of his peers have done. From Mark Zuckerberg promising to fund a technological revolution in the way kids are taught, to the slew of east coast hedge fund managers promoting charter schools as a way to shake-up public education, philanthropists know instinctively that childhood is their point of maximum leverage.....engagement trumps disengagement. Public service matters, even if one is only stealing apocalyptic proclamations from a presidential desk. It beats burying one’s head in the New Zealand soil.

Many of the world’s richest individuals are working to avert the war, pestilence or revolution that would make a withdrawal from society seem attractive in the first place. Philanthropists who are funding human rights campaigns, or drug research, or novel approaches to tackling inequality — these are the real survivalists.
apocalypses  bolt-holes  catastrophes  charities  childhood  children  disasters  disaster_preparedness  engaged_citizenry  hard_work  high_net_worth  Jeff_Bezos  mission-driven  moguls  Montessori  New_Zealand  novel  off-grid  optimism  Peter_Thiel  self-improvement  philanthropy  public_service  survivalists 
october 2018 by jerryking
We can only tackle epidemics by preparing for the unexpected
MAY 28, 2018 | FT| Anjana Ahuja.

"[Chance] Fortune favors the prepared [mind]"

Other pathogens on the WHO’s hit list for priority research include Ebola and the related Marburg virus; Lassa fever; Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever; Mers coronavirus; Sars; Rift Valley fever; Zika; and Disease X.

Many of these are being targeted by the billion-dollar Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, with a mission to develop “new vaccines for a safer world”. Cepi is backed by several national governments — including those of Japan and Norway — the Wellcome Trust, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The coalition has just announced that, following events in Kerala, it will prioritise a Nipah vaccine.

Disease X, incidentally, is the holding name for a “black swan” — an unknown pathogen that could glide in from nowhere to trigger panic. Preparedness is not all about facing down familiar foes. It is also about being ready for adversaries that have not yet shown their hand. [expand our imaginations. The next catastrophe may take an unprecedented form----Simon Kuper]
black_swan  catastrophes  chance  disasters  disaster_preparedness  epidemics  flu_outbreaks  panics  pathogens  preparation  readiness  unexpected  unknowns  viruses 
may 2018 by jerryking
What Land Will Be Underwater in 20 Years? Figuring It Out Could Be Lucrative
Feb. 23, 2018 | The New York Times | By Brad Plumer

In Charleston, S.C., where the ports have been expanding to accommodate larger ships sailing through the newly widened Panama Canal, a real-estate developer named Xebec Realty recently went looking for land to build new warehouses and logistics centers.

But first, Xebec had a question: What were the odds that the sites it was considering might be underwater in 10 or 20 years?......Yet detailed information about the city’s climate risks proved surprisingly hard to find. Federal flood maps are based on historical data, and won’t tell you how sea-level rise could exacerbate flooding in the years ahead.....So Xebec turned to a Silicon Valley start-up called Jupiter, which offered to analyze local weather and hydrological data and combine it with climate model projections to assess the potential climate risks Xebec might face in Charleston over the next few decades from things like heavier rainfall, sea level rise or increased storm surge....the reliability of Jupiter's predictive analytics is uncertain....that said, “In economics, information has value if you would make a different decision based on that information,”...... Congress has generally underfunded initiatives such as those at the Federal Emergency Management Agency to incorporate climate change into its federal flood maps.......to get a full picture of flooding risk, you need expertise in weather, but also climate and hydrology and engineering and running complex models on the latest computer hardware,” ... “All of those specialized disciplines are usually heavily siloed within the public sector or the scientific community.”....Jupiter, which acknowledges the uncertainties in climate forecasting, will have to prove that a market exists....flooding and other disasters have led to record losses by insurers.....[Those] losses raised the stakes in terms of trying to get the best possible science on your side when you’re pricing risk,” said John Drzik, president of global risk at Marsh,
climate_change  weather  start_ups  data_driven  forecasting  hard_to_find  predictive_analytics  tools  Charleston  South_Carolina  uncertainty  sea-level_rise  floods  commercial_real_estate  adaptability  specificity  catastrophes  catastrophic_risk  unpredictability  coastal  extreme_weather_events  insurance  FEMA  cartography  floodplains  flood-risk  flood-risk_maps  mapping  historical_data 
february 2018 by jerryking
Shopping for the apocalypse
Aug. 26, 2017 | The Financial Times | by Esther Bintliff.

Apocalyptic thinking has always been with us, but its power waxes and wanes. "We live in an extremely unstable and insecure time," says Ash Amin, a Cambridge University geography professor who studies urban culture. "Risks are much bigger and globally integrated."

The psychology of prepping rests on this sense of chaos, of needing to assert some control - any control - over an unpredictable reality. There is solace in practical, orderly steps you can tick off a list. Buy a three-day supply of non-perishable food, a few gallons of water, a torch, a multi-tool. Identify your family meeting place, evacuation route, shelter. These are achievable aims.

Many everyday catastrophes, in contrast, are unwieldy and intractable. Rather than arriving with the sudden bloom of a mushroom cloud, they unfold slowly, in quiet, unobtrusive ways. Some 52,000 people died of drug overdoses in the US in 2015, more than from guns or cars, or from HIV/Aids in the year the epidemic reached its height. Mothers, fathers, teens collapsing in shopping aisles and sports pitches is its own kind of Armageddon; most of us feel helpless in its wake.

Of course, calamities do occur. One morning in September 1859, British astronomer Richard Carrington was in his observatory when he saw a white-light solar flare - a huge magnetic explosion on the sun. It was followed by the largest geomagnetic storm ever recorded on Earth. Telegraphs were disrupted across Europe and the US. My husband's fear is of a repeat Carrington event - a severe geomagnetic storm that this time would take down the electrical grid, GPS and satellites. In 2012, scientists suggested that the likelihood of such a storm within a decade was as high as 12 per cent. Worst-case scenario: millions of people, hospitals, businesses without power for months.

Perhaps it's worth preparing for this one-in-eight possibility of chaos. So when is prepping not paranoia - but planning? Tom Martin, founder of the American Preppers Network, which has 35,000 forum members and 230,000 fans on Facebook, tells me: "The definition of a prepper is quite simply 'one who prepares'. So if someone stores extra food and emergency supplies in case of a -disaster, then by definition they are a prepper... It's all varying degrees."..........Amin points out that the emphasis on individual prepping may be misplaced. "Where you find really resilient populations, they often share responsibility with their families and communities. And the history of managing for apocalypse is the history of governmental and infrastructure preparedness."

I take this to mean that instead of building up supplies, we should invite the neighbours round for cake and pressure the government to invest in things such as transport and back-up energy. That's the kind of prepping I can get behind. But I might buy a wind-up radio as well, just in case.
apocalypses  catastrophes  chaos  disasters  disaster_preparedness  emergencies  evacuations  imperceptible_threats  natural_calamities  power_grid  preparation  readiness  resilience  risks  slowly_moving  survivalists  unwieldy  worst-case 
november 2017 by jerryking
Cautioning Against Future Catastrophes | On Point
May 23, 2017

"Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes."

Richard Clarke, the nation’s former counter terrorism czar, warned the White House about the grave threat posed by Al Qaeda before 9/11…and was ignored. Now he’s back with a new warning. In a new book he explains: experts he calls 'Cassandras' are sounding the alarm about a new host of existential threats from cyberattacks to climate change. And they’re getting ignored. This hour On Point, heeding warnings in a dangerous world
books  Richard_Clarke  warning_signs  catastrophes  counterterrorism  cyberattacks 
june 2017 by jerryking
Flood. Rinse. Repeat: The costly cycle that must end
May 07, 2017 | The Globe and Mail |GLENN MCGILLIVRAY, managing director, Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction

Once again, homes located alongside a Canadian river have flooded, affected homeowners are shocked, the local government is wringing its hands, the respective provincial government is ramping up to provide taxpayer-funded disaster assistance and the feds are deploying the Armed Forces.

In Canada, it is the plot of the movie Groundhog Day, or the definition of insanity attributed to Albert Einstein: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.....First, a homeowner locates next to the river, oftentimes because of the view (meaning a personal choice is being made). Many of these homes are of high value.

Then the snow melts, the ice jams or the rain falls and the flood comes. Often, as is the case now, the rain is characterized by the media as being incredible, far outside the norm. Then a scientific or engineering analysis later shows that what happened was not very exceptional.

These events are not caused by the rain, they are caused by poor land-use decisions, among other public-policy foibles. This is what is meant when some say there are no such things as natural catastrophes, only man-made disasters.

Finally, the province steps in with disaster assistance then seeks reimbursement from the federal government through the Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements. In any case, whether provincial or federal, taxpayers are left holding the bag.....So what is the root of the problem? Though complex problems have complex causes and complex solutions, one of the causes is that the party making the initial decision to allow construction (usually the local government) is not the party left holding the bag when the flood comes.

Just as homeowners have skin in the game through insurance deductibles and other measures, local governments need a financial disincentive to act in a risky manner. At present, municipalities face far more upside risk than downside risk when it comes to approving building in high-risk hazard zones. When the bailout comes from elsewhere, there is no incentive to make the right decision – the lure of an increased tax base and the desire not to anger local voters is all too great.

Reducing natural disaster losses in Canada means breaking the cycle – taking a link out of the chain of events that leads to losses.

Local governments eager for growth and the tax revenue that goes with it need to hold some significant portion of the downside risk in order to give them pause for thought.
floods  catastrophes  natural_calamities  design  insurance  public_policy  disasters  relief_recovery_reconstruction  sustainability  municipalities  skin_in_the_game  disincentives  Albert_Einstein  complex_problems  land_uses  moral_hazards  man-made  hazards  downside_risks 
may 2017 by jerryking
How to avert catastrophe
January 21, 2017 | FT | Simon Kuper.

an argument: people make bad judgments and terrible predictions. It’s a timely point. The risk of some kind of catastrophe — armed conflict, natural disaster, and/or democratic collapse — appears to have risen. The incoming US president has talked about first use of nuclear weapons, and seems happy to let Russia invade nearby countries. Most other big states are led by militant nationalists. Meanwhile, the polar ice caps are melting fast. How can we fallible humans avert catastrophe?

• You can’t know which catastrophe will happen, but expect that any day some catastrophe could. In Tversky’s words: “Surprises are expected.” Better to worry than die blasé. Mobilise politically to forestall catastrophe.
• Don’t presume that future catastrophes will repeat the forms of past catastrophes. However, we need to expand our imaginations. The next catastrophe may take an unprecedented form.
• Don’t follow the noise. Some catastrophes unfold silently: climate change, or people dying after they lose their jobs or their health insurance. (The financial crisis was associated with about 260,000 extra deaths from cancer in developed countries alone, estimated a study in The Lancet.)
• Ignore banalities. We now need to stretch and bore ourselves with important stuff.
• Strengthen democratic institutions.
• Strengthen the boring, neglected bits of the state that can either prevent or cause catastrophe. [See Why boring government matters November 1, 2018 | | Financial Times | Brooke Masters.
The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, by Michael Lewis, Allen Lane, RRP£20, 219 pages. pinboard tag " sovereign-risk" ]
• Listen to older people who have experienced catastrophes. [jk....wisdom]
• Be conservative. [jk...be conservative, be discerning, be picky, be selective, say "no"]
Simon_Kuper  catastrophes  Nassim_Taleb  black_swan  tips  surprises  imagination  noise  silence  conservatism  natural_calamities  threats  unglamorous  democratic_institutions  slowly_moving  elder_wisdom  apocalypses  disasters  disaster_preparedness  emergencies  boring  disaster_myopia  financial_crises  imperceptible_threats 
january 2017 by jerryking
Insurers look for new ways to cope with climate change - The Globe and Mail
SHAWN MCCARTHY - GLOBAL ENERGY REPORTER
OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail
Published Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015

Institute for Catastrophe Loss Reduction. Speeding up for extreme weather events......World leaders in Paris aren't the only ones trying to come up with a plan for dealing with climate change. Matt Galloway spoke with Gordon McBean. He is a research chair with the Institute for Catastrophe Loss Reduction.
insurance  climate_change  catastrophes  natural_calamities  threats  weather  Intact_Financial  uWaterloo  extremes 
november 2015 by jerryking
The need for an analytical approach to life
November 3, 2013 | FT.com | By Rebecca Knight.

Risk analysis is not about predicting events; it’s about understanding the probability of possible scenarios, according to Elisabeth Paté-Cornell, professor at the Stanford School of Engineering.
In her latest research, she argues that expressions such as “black swan” and “perfect storm”, which have become journalistic shorthand when describing catastrophes, are just excuses for poor planning. Managers, should “think like engineers” and take a systematic approach to risk analysis. They should figure out how a system works and then identify the probable ways in which it could fail.
So does a black swan event exist?
The only one that I can think of is the Aids epidemic. In the case of a true black swan, you cannot anticipate it.
And what about ‘perfect storms’?
A combination of rare events is often referred to as a perfect storm. I think people underestimate the probability of them because they wrongly assume that the elements of a perfect storm are independent. If something happened in the past – even though it may not have happened at the same time as something else – it is likely to happen again in the future.
Why should managers take an engineering approach to analysing the probability of perfect storms?
Engineering risk analysts think in terms of systems – their functional components and their dependencies. If you’re in charge of risk management for your business, you need to see the interdependencies of any of the risks you’re managing: how the markets that you operate in are interrelated, for example.
You also need imagination. Several bad things can happen at once. Some of these are human errors and once you make a mistake, others are more likely to happen. This is because of the sequence of human error. When something bad happens or you make a mistake, you get distracted which means you’re more likely to make another mistake, which could lead to another bad event. When you make an error, stop and think. Anticipate and protect yourself.
How can you compute the likelihood of human error?
There are lots of ways to use systems analysis to calculate the probability of human error. Human errors are often rooted in the way an organisation is managed: either people are not skilled enough to do their jobs well; they do not have enough information; or they have the wrong incentives. If you’re paid for maximum production you’re going to take risks.
So in the case of a financial company I’d say monitor your traders, and maybe especially those that make a lot of money. There are a lot of ways you can make a lot of money: skill, luck, or through imprudent choices that sooner or later are going to catch up with you.
So you can do risk analysis even without reliable statistics?
We generally do a system-based risk analysis because we do not have reliable statistics. The goal is to look ahead and use the information we have to assess the chances that things might go wrong.
The upshot is that business schools ought to do a better job of teaching MBAs about probability.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
“Numbers make intangibles tangible,” said Jonah Lehrer, a journalist and
author of “How We Decide,” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009). “They
give the illusion of control. [Add "sense of control" to tags]
engineering  sense_of_control  black_swan  warning_signs  9/11  HIV  Aids  business_schools  MBAs  attitudes  interconnections  interdependence  mindsets  Stanford  imagination  systems_thinking  anticipating  probabilities  pretense_of_knowledge  risk-management  thinking_tragically  complexity  catastrophes  shorthand  incentives  quantified_self  multiple_stressors  compounded  human_errors  risks  risk-analysis  synchronicity  cumulative  self-protection  systematic_approaches 
november 2013 by jerryking
Dramatic temperature increases could threaten Canadian health, infrastructure - The Globe and Mail
Jan. 21 2013 | The Globe and Mail | ANNA MEHLER PAPERNY

Canada is getting hotter faster than ever before and at a faster rate than almost any other country. Rain, snow, sleet and hail storms are becoming more erratic. What were once considered exceptional weather patterns – the kind researchers reject to avoid skewing their data – are becoming common....Canada’s infrastructure wasn’t built for this kind of climate. And much of the burden falls on municipal governments, with road, sewer and transit systems that can barely cope with existing weather conditions, let alone future vagaries.

“There’s a very large gap in terms of the current health of municipal infrastructure in Canada and where we should be right now,” said Paul Kovacs, University of Western Ontario economist and executive director of the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction, a group established by Canada’s insurance industry to research the costs of natural disasters and how to mitigate them....The effects of erratic weather patterns became very real for Ontario’s apple farmers last year: An early thaw followed by an unexpected frost wiped out 82 per cent of the province’s crop. Now, the industry – worth about $100-million in Ontario alone – is trying to figure out how to weatherproof itself. Potential fixes are wind breaks, hail nets, frost fans and sunscreen for apples to prevent damage from sunlight and heat. It’s expensive and uncertain, especially when the weather becomes tougher to predict. Leslie Huffman, Ontario’s apple production specialist, is working with the province on evaluating new techniques.
apples  anomalies  Canada  catastrophes  climate_change  extreme_weather_events  infrastructure  insurance  municipalities  natural_calamities  risk-mitigation  weather 
january 2013 by jerryking
Stocking stuffers
In Antifragility: Things That Gain from Disorder ($33, Random House). Nassim Nicholas Taleb examines catastrophe resistant structures with his characteristic Chutzpah. rolling his eyes at academics and risk managers alike. He can; pest-Black Swan, his career isn't fragile.

Edward N. Luttwak is both a military historian and a field operative who's worked for the US. government. so it's no surprise that The Rise of China vs. the Logic of Strategy ($26, Belknap) is both / thorough and concise. Any serious Study of foreign policy issues in Asia should start here.

Paper Promises: Money, Debt, and the New World Order ($18, Penguin) didn't get the coverage that other financial crisis tomes did. so the
paperback release of imbalances that could this masterful survey ‘5* by The Economist's E Buttonwood columnist.
Nassim_Taleb  book_reviews  booklists  books  antifragility  catastrophes  imbalances 
december 2012 by jerryking
Business continuity: Making it through the storm
Nov 10th 2012 | The Economist |Anonymous.

Hurricane Sandy was another test of how well businesses can keep going when disaster strikes...GOLDMAN SACHS’S latest shrewd investment was in sandbags and back-up electricity generators. As Hurricane Sandy approached New York, the bags were stacked around its headquarters. It was one of the few offices in downtown Manhattan to remain dry and well-illuminated as “Frankenstorm” battered the city.

Meanwhile, a block farther down West Street, the headquarters of Verizon were awash with salty flood water, soaking cables delivering phone and internet services to millions of customers. The firm was able to reroute much of the traffic through other parts of its network, but local service was disrupted....Sandy is the latest catastrophic event to test the readiness of the world’s leading firms to cope with disaster. Most firms have improved “business continuity” preparations over the years. The Y2K scare at the turn of the century moved IT risk high up the list of worries. The attacks of September 11th 2001 warned firms of the danger of putting all their computers (and staff) in the same place (jk: concentration risk; SPOF)....“Firms are increasingly reliant on networks, but often fail to understand the risks that networks bring,” says Don Tapscott, a management guru. Global supply chains, just-in-time and shifting to the “cloud” tend to bind once unrelated activities ever closer together, making them more prone to failing at the same time. The current fad for moving data to the “cloud” may appear to reduce risk because there is so much spare capacity in the web. Yet some firms offering cloud services have more concentrated operations than (jk: concentration risk).

Firms are starting to recognise their vulnerability to cyber-attack, but few have much idea what they would do if it happened. Mr Tapscott thinks boards should have a committee explicitly focused on understanding IT and network risks and ensuring they are properly managed....Dutch Leonard, a risk expert at Harvard Business School, says that the best-prepared firms use a combination of planning for specific events and planning to cope with specific consequences, such as a loss of a building or supplier, regardless of the cause. He also recommends copying an approach used by the armed forces: using a group of insiders to figure out how the firm could be brought down [ jk: white hats]....Firms should make lobbying government to invest heavily in upgrading that infrastructure a core part of their risk-management strategy, argues Irwin Redlener of the National Centre for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University.

Goldman Sachs has long been a leader in disaster planning because it understands that the situations in which it might not be able to function are exactly the sort of events when very large changes in the value of its investments could occur, says Mr Leonard. Yet too many firms underinvest in planning for disaster because they don’t think it will pay, at least within the short-term timeline by which many now operate, reckons Yossi Sheffi of MIT.
beforemath  boards_&_directors_&_governance  business-continuity  catastrophes  compounded  concentration_risk  crisis  cyberattacks  cyber_security  disasters  disaster_preparedness  Don_Tapscott  Goldman_Sachs  Hurricane_Sandy  isolation  natural_calamities  networks  network_risk  New_York_City  optimism_bias  preparation  readiness  red_teams  resilience  risks  risk-management  short-term  SPOF  step_change  supply_chains  surprises  underinvestments  valuations  vulnerabilities  white_hats 
november 2012 by jerryking
What to Do Before Disaster Strikes - WSJ.com
September 27, 2005 | WSJ | By GEORGE ANDERS.

What's missing is a systematic way of approaching corporate self-defense. Each potential calamity is treated in isolation....Sheffi believes that companies need to start by cataloging what could go wrong. General Motors Corp., for example, has created "vulnerability maps" that identify more than 100 hazards, ranging from wind damage to embezzlement. Such maps make it easier for managers to focus on areas of greatest risk or gravest peril. He implies that normal budgeting -- which matches the cost of doing something against the risk-adjusted cost of doing nothing -- can determine which battles against vulnerability are worth fighting....Mr. Sheffi nods approvingly at some ingenious ways to mobilize for trouble before it arrives. Federal Express Corp., he says, puts two empty planes in the air each night, just so they can swoop into any airport with a grounded plane and take over delivery services as fast as possible. Wall Street firms have recently added similar redundancy with multiple data centers, so that a New York City crisis won't imperil their record-keeping.

Intel Corp. (post-Heathrow) gets a thumbs-up, too, for finding a sly way of outwitting airport thieves. It couldn't control every aspect of security in transit -- but it could change its box design. Rather than boast about "Intel inside," the company switched to drab, unmarked packaging that gave no hint of $6 million cargoes. The name for this approach: "Security through obscurity." (jk: security consciousness)
disaster_preparedness  risk-management  book_reviews  mapping  security_&_intelligence  redundancies  vulnerabilities  rate-limiting_steps  business-continuity  thinking_tragically  obscurity  cost_of_inaction  base_rates  isolated  GM  Fedex  Intel  risk-adjusted  self-defense  Wall_Street  high-risk  budgeting  disasters  beforemath  risks  George_Anders  catastrophes  natural_calamities  systematic_approaches  security_consciousness  record-keeping  hazards 
may 2012 by jerryking
Far Offshore, a Rash of Close Calls - WSJ.com
DECEMBER 8, 2010 | WSJ | By RUSSELL GOLD And BEN CASSELMAN.
The oil industry has said the Deepwater Horizon rig catastrophe was a
unique event, the result of an unprecedented series of missteps that are
unlikely to be repeated. The recent history of offshore drilling
suggests otherwise.

In the months before and after the rig exploded and sank, killing 11 and
spilling millions of barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the
industry was hit with several serious spills and alarming near-misses,
some of them strikingly similar to what happened aboard the Deepwater
Horizon.
catastrophes  missteps  offshore_drilling  oil_industry  oil_spills  safety  near-misses  environmental_disasters  Deepwater_Horizon  uniqueness 
december 2010 by jerryking
Obsessed to a Fault - WSJ.com
APRIL 18, 2006 | WSJ | By LIAM PLEVEN. GeoVera, among the
largest sellers of quake insurance to homeowners on the open market in
California, is trying to buck the trend and make a profit at the same
time. About 40% of its business -- worth roughly $100 M in annual
premiums -- comes from selling quake insurance there. "What sets us
apart is our focus on catastrophe underwriting. That's all we do,"...The
company is a case study in the broader economics of disaster
insurance...GeoVera executives believe they can use their brains -- by
devouring data on the homes it insures, and keeping a close eye on the
location of its customers and the type of coverage they're buying -- to
make the company profitable. They analyze mounds of information about
the 115,000 homes the company insures: What are they made of? When were
they built? What types of foundations do they stand on? How solid is the
soil beneath them? Are they on a slope? How close are they to
California's 200-odd active faults?
catastrophes  insurance  disasters  GeoVera  underwriting  data_driven  risk-management  competingonanalytics  massive_data_sets  haystacks 
october 2010 by jerryking
The man who’s tutoring Bill Gates
June 19, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | Margaret Wente. Discusses
Vaclav Smil at the University of Manitoba. Prof. Smil’s 24th book,
Global Catastrophes and Trends: The Next 50 Years, has just been
published in Canada. It offers a numbers-heavy but compact guide to all
the main things we should be worrying about (or not), from natural
disasters to population trends.
billgates  books  Canada  catastrophes  catastrophic_risk  disasters  energy  environment  Margaret_Wente  natural_calamities  politics  worrying 
june 2010 by jerryking
Op-Ed Columnist - Drilling for Certainty - NYTimes.com
May 27, 2010 | NYT | By DAVID BROOKS. "...the real issue has
to do with risk assessment. It has to do with the bloody crossroads where complex technical systems meet human psychology...we’ve come to depend on an ever-expanding array of intricate hi-tech systems. These h/w & s/w sys. are the guts of financial markets, energy exploration, space exploration, air travel, defense programs and modern production plants. These sys. which allow us to live as well as we do, are too complex for any single person to understand. (1) people can't
imagine how small failings can compound into catastrophic disasters. (2) people acclimate to risk (3) overconfidence in backup sys. and safety devices. (4) people match complicated technical sys. with complicated governing structures. (5) people tend to spread good news and hide bad news.(6) people in the same field suffer groupthink...Overlooks incentives that distort choices.
David_Brooks  oil_spills  complexity  risk-assessment  cognitive_skills  biases  Malcolm_Gladwell  certainty  overconfidence  psychology  incentives  catastrophes  groupthink  compounded  financial_markets  energy_exploration  space_exploration  air_travel  multiplicative  risk-perception  optimism_bias  risk-acclimatization  Richard_Feynman  cumulative  bad_news 
may 2010 by jerryking
Intact Financial: Defensive, disciplined and eyeing acquisitions
Jan. 09, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | by Tara Perkins.
Canada's $36-billion property and casualty insurance sector, a
fragmented industry where the top five players hold only about one-third
of the market....Charles Brindamour, is the CEO of Intact Financial
Corp.(IFC-T ) Canada's biggest home, auto and business insurer. He saw
three main themes in 2009 that not only defined the year for his
industry, but also set the stage for the months ahead: the global
capital markets crunch that marked the start of last year, increasing
evidence that the weather is becoming less predictable, and the return
to optimism in capital markets. Weather patterns..."We've done much
work here on pricing, products and equipping our customer service
operations to deal with storms and water damage. And we're doing a lot
of work with our clients on prevention as well as climate change
adaptation". Opportunity for Pelmorex?
weather  CEOs  patterns  insurance  Intact_Financial  fragmented_markets  volatility  climate_change  catastrophes  natural_calamities  threats  capital_markets 
january 2010 by jerryking

Copy this bookmark:





to read