Return to The Social Science for Early Warnings

Warning Categories in detail

So let’s review in what circumstance each type of warning can be of assistance to us. They all have a critical importance if we are to build resilience into our communities and if we are to minimize not only potentially Natural Hazard Disasters but also manmade disasters from within industry or by us changing our environment. You will note that these categories’ merge and mingle & simply offer a time line of potential event. I do not suggest that all sectors will prioritize a reaction in the same order.


  1. ‘Real Time Early Warnings’ I suggest are those in progress with imminent destructive power i.e. Tsunami, volcano, cyclone, wild fire, flash flood, glacier breakout, landslide and of coarse earthquake.

    When these events activate, we will want to know scale and countdown to impact. We will want to know the procedure to protect ourselves and minimize the effects upon critical infrastructure.

    Can we provide real time early warnings for all of these? Yes we can now. 

  2. ‘Early Warnings’ refer to events beginning to happen, identified through a buildup of activity with a degree of uncertainty of how or to what scale it will affect you, such as an approaching cyclone, a developing flood, a remote bush fire, a volcano rumbling. These events should  already be prepared for, practiced within society and should not come as a surprise.

  3. ‘Early Warning Forecast; provides warning of longer term events i.e. the beginning of the hurricane/ cyclone season, the tornado season, a dormant but live volcano known to periodically activate, and of course Climate Change, and active seismic faultlines. These events have been accepted as threats to society and require administrations and society to build into their lives prepared contingency plans and mitigation strategies.

  4. ‘Reliable Prediction’ is using relatively new and developing science which has an increasing degree of reliability i.e. the threat of a local landslide, the potential of an earthquake. Yes this is possible and we have experienced considerable success rates recently through a variety of science, but I warn you, if we continue to ignore this developing  and ever increasing ‘reliable science’, then we potentially leave many thousands in unnecessary risk. I ask we don’t only think of science to provide these reliable predictions, nature itself offers some signs; we simply need to understand how to interpret. The type of events included within this category must not only be within a contingency plan but also within a ‘society preparedness program’.

  5. ‘Prediction’ is a little more uncertain, coming from a variety of sources, not only science. We should not ignore them, but we should keep them in context and certainly build them into any contingency review plan 

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