Recent disastrous floods in Manila and China that have reportedly been intensified by urbanization are only a sign of things to come, writes Patrick. With 75 percent of the world predicted to live in cities by 2050, and most of the growth between now and then occurring in areas of the developing world that are "typically 'poorly planned and managed' by local authorities," many more people will be at risk of increasingly common natural disasters.
In addition, notes Patrick, "Vulnerability of urban areas to natural disasters is hardly restricted to the developing world, of course, as the Japanese earthquake and U.S. experience with Hurricane Katrina attest."
So what can be done to try to head off the worst effects of these converging trends? According to Patrick, "Two important steps are building local capacity to anticipate risk levels and establishing channels through which to request resources from state, provincial, or national governments. Another priority is emergency response training in vulnerable cities or neighborhoods. Finally, investing in-and publishing-threat assessments and risk modeling is critical."