Re: [SystemSafety] Floods and Electrics

From: Matthew Squair < >
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2016 13:27:05 +0700

At least in the EU you don't have to contend with the US Army Corp of Engineers efforts in flood control.

The above example of the Mississippi old control structure illustrates one of the problems with investing in 'mega-project' flood controls. Once you have it becomes difficult to reverse the decision if it turns out you were wrong, Collingridge's dilemma again.

I'm reading a book by Tavris and Aronson called 'Mistakes were made (but not by me)' at the moment. Their central thesis is that reducing cognitive dissonance is a major driver in human behavior and that the mental gymnastics of self justification we use to achieve such minimisation go a long way to explaining how we persist in (very) bad decisions. The bigger the investment the stronger the effect of course and the less likely folk are to admit that they're wrong.

There are obvious implications for investment decisions in flood control measures (or other hazard controls) as well as why people seem to discount risks such as flood, bushfire, earthquake and landslide.

Matthew Squair

MIEAust, CPEng
Mob: +61 488770655
Email; Mattsquair_at_xxxxxx

> On 5 Jan 2016, at 4:12 AM, Peter Bernard Ladkin <ladkin_at_xxxxxx >
> Hash: SHA256

>> On 2016-01-04 18:36 , Matthew Squair wrote:
>> Along similar lines in Australia (land of flooding rains) we've found that by replanting trees
>> in a belt along the river course we can reduce the rate that water spills into the rivers and
>> therefore the flood peak that's experienced, it spreads the pulse out in effect. Reduces
>> erosion as well.

> Such measures are well-known in the UK and promoted not only by experts but by major journalists
> who write about the issues.
> The idea is simple. You retard the runoff from the watershed. It follows that you get less in the
> river all at one time, so the river doesn't rise as high.
> The UK will conclude that building physical flood defences downstream cannot work, because the
> requirement is too high. It is easy to conclude, as well, that clearing channels (dredging
> waterways) cannot work effectively, indeed the UK Environment Agency itself knows that (simple math).
> It's not clear what will happen. I lived for almost two decades in an area of the world prone to
> Richter 8 earthquakes, full of buildings of the sort which collapse and burn in those
> circumstances, and command enormous prices because 40-120 years = "never".
> My guess is that collective memory (insurance, house prices and so on) runs on a cycle of about
> five years. So places like Hebden Bridge are going to have to adapt or face a derelict High
> Street. And places on a longer cycle such as York and Leeds are going to engage in a time-honored
> recovery/complaint cycle and may or may not implement enhanced local defence.
> Prof. Peter Bernard Ladkin, Faculty of Technology, University of Bielefeld, 33594 Bielefeld, Germany
> Je suis Charlie
> Tel+msg +49 (0)521 880 7319
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