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Renewable Energy and Non Renewable Energy

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Vulnerability and all that jazz: Addressing vulnerability in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina

Author(s): Yarnal B


This essay reviews the concept of vulnerability, paying special attention to the vulnerability of New Orleans exposed by Hurricane Katrina, and the need for interdisciplinary approaches to reducing vulnerability. Vulnerability is defined as a function of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. Physical vulnerability results from exposure, and social vulnerability emanates from social factors that place people in highly exposed areas, affect the sensitivity of people to that exposure, and influence their capacity to respond and adapt. The paper describes how the city's physical exposure has caused extreme vulnerability. Its large population of poor blacks is even more exposed than others, has high sensitivity, and possesses limited capacity to adapt. The paper argues that to understand vulnerability requires an interdisciplinary approach, one that physical scientists, engineers, social scientists, and humanists should work on collaboratively in order to reduce vulnerability in New Orleans.

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