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My friends, as I have discovered myself, there are no disasters, only opportunities. And, indeed, opportunities for fresh disasters. Boris Johnson, cited Daily Telegraph 2 December 2004
During a large disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, warnings get hopelessly jumbled. The truth is that for warnings to work, it’s not enough for them to be delivered. They must also overcome that human tendency to pause; they must trigger a series of effective actions, mobilizing the informal networks that we depend on in a crisis. Gary Wolf
Reasons aren’t really things that make you do other things. Reasons are things that you make up, much later, to reassure everyone that we are all logical and that the world makes sense. We do unreasonable things, because we want to, at the time. No reason. Much later we sit in the wreckage, building reasons out of little bits of wreckage, so we’ll have something to show the crash investigators. Look, this is what caused it. So the whole mess at least appears reasonable. So we can convince ourselves that at least there was a reason for the disaster, something we can prevent or avoid, so it’ll never happen again. But a lot of the time there's no reason. We just flew it to the ground. Because we felt like it. And we're still dangerous. And it could happen again anytime.
It’s easier to live with each other afterwards if we give each other reasons. Julian Gough, Juno & Juliet
You might think that, by now, people would have become accustomed to the idea of natural catastrophes. We live on a planet that is still cooling and which has fissures and faults in its crust; this much is accepted even by those who think that the globe is only six thousand years old, as well as by those who believe that the earth was ‘designed’ to be this way. Even in such a case, it is to be expected that earthquakes will occur and that, if they occur under the seabed, tidal waves will occur also. Yet two sorts of error are still absolutely commonplace. The first of these is the idiotic belief that seismic events are somehow ‘timed’ to express the will of God. Thus, reasoning back from the effect, people will seriously attempt to guess what sin or which profanity led to the verdict of the tectonic plates. The second error, common even among humanists, is to borrow the same fallacy for satirical purposes and to employ it to disprove a benign deity. Christopher Hitchens
Even with all our technology and the inventions that make modern life so much easier than it once was, it takes just one big natural disaster to wipe all that away and remind us that, here on Earth, we’re still at the mercy of nature. Neil deGrasse Tyson
It sounds like it’s going to be one disaster after another on this ship. Star Trek: Voyager s7e11: Shattered, Janeway to Chakotay
From the disasters you might face once in a lifetime to those we face every day – you may think something like this won’t happen to you. But thinking that the unthinkable won’t happen won’t help you if it does. Because surviving a disaster is not only a question of luck. Horizon: How to Survive a Disaster, BBC 2009
In many of the cases Ed [Professor Galea, Greenwich University] studied one obstacle to our survival appears time and time again – the failure to react even when the threat is staring you in the face. Nowhere is this more apparent than with fire. ibid.
Ten people died in the store [Woolworth’s]. Nine of them in the cafeteria. While others were fleeing for their lives, Ed believes these people fatally underestimated the danger. ibid.
In the moments after the crash Judie experienced another perceptual change reported by other survivors: time distortion. ibid.
The sinking of the Estonia is notorious for accounts of behavioural inaction. Although the alarm was sounded almost thirty minutes before the ferry sank some passengers did nothing to save their own lives. ibid.
There are still things we can all do in our everyday lives to prepare for the unthinkable. ibid.
The major reason that people ignore major threat signals like fire alarms is peer pressure. Professor John Maul, Leeds University
A natural disaster – the moment a force of Nature collides with humanity with tragic results. Top Ten Natural Disasters, National Geographic 2013
10) The deadly 2011 US Tornado season
9) March 2011 Japan Earthquake and Tsunami
8) Spanish Flu
6) Hurricane Katrina
5) The Great Flood
4) 1906 San Francisco Earthquake
3) 1783 Iceland Volcanic Eruption
2) Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami
1) The Black Death
Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of. Stephen Hawking
All sights twice brilliant and smells twice sharp. All games twice as long. It seemed that here no disaster could happen, that no disaster could touch us. Cider with Rosie ***** starring Samantha Mortin & Archie Cox & Ruby Ashbourne Serkis & Emma Curtis & Jessica Hynes & June Whitfield & Annette Crosbie & Timothy Spall & Billy Howle & Georgie Smith et al, director Philippa Lowthorpe, BBC 2015
Some wonderful news just through – a terrible disaster has occurred overseas so we won’t have to bother reporting it. Good night. Spitting Image s8e5, ITV News, ITV 1990
In an urban society everything connects … Our lives are woven together in a fabric; but the connections that make society strong also make it vulnerable. Threads, BBC 1984
Soviet move ‘threat to peace’ says USA. ibid. Sunday Times
Britain has emergency plans for war. If central government should ever fail, power can be transferred instead to a system of local officials dispersed across the country. ibid.
Squadrons of American B-52 bombers have been arriving at US bases in Turkey … ibid. news
The United States’ ultimatum delivered to Moscow last night. ibid. news
You cannot win a nuclear war. ibid. demo speaker
Natural disasters unleash forces that are literally earth-shattering … but what about disaster documentaries? Surely we look to them to provide answers, not just entertainment? But to do that programmes need to keep pace with science. Decoding Disaster: A Timewatch Guide I, BBC 2017
I’ll see how rival theories keep emerging on the destruction of ancient Atlantis. How there’s still much to learn about history’s most famous volcanic eruption at Pompeii. How filmmakers explore theories that sometimes sound barely believable. Was this killer wave of 400 years ago a killer tsunami? … We can share the thrill of discovery. ibid.
But if it wasn’t a tsunami, what then caused the destruction of the Minoan civilisation on Crete? The film shows how archaeologists revisited all the clues just like detectives reopening an old case. ibid.
In January 2007 the container ship MSC Napoli ran aground off the south coast of Devon spilling cargo on Branscombe beach. Timewatch: In Search of the Wreckers, BBC 2018
A tradition that stretched back centuries … The mysterious history of the Wreckers. ibid.
Where there are wrecks there are tales of wrecking. ibid.
Defoe: ‘A fierce and ravenous people for they are so greedy and eager for prey that they are charged with strange, bloody and cruel dealings.’ ibid.
April 15th 1912: more than 1,500 people die on The Titanic. May 7th 1915: 1,198 die when The Lusitania was torpedoed by a German submarine. December 7th 1941: 1,177 perish aboard the USS Arizona … January 30th 1945: more perished in one sea disaster than all who died on these tragedies multiplied by 3. History estimated between 6 and 9,000 people were lost when a refugee ship, The Wilhelm Gustloff, was torpedoed by Soviet submarines. It was a staggering human disaster yet what happened remains a mystery. Unsolved History s1e19: Wilhelm Gustloff, Discovery 2003