Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 14 News List

Japan resilient, but climate change making disasters worse: experts
日本防災力強 但氣候變遷將加劇自然災害

Houses damaged by a landslide in Atsuma town, Hokkaido Prefecture on Sept. 6, are pictured after an earthquake hit the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
日本北部北海道厚真町九月六日發生地震後,被土石流摧毀的房屋。

Photo: AFP
照片:法新社

Record typhoons, biblical floods, heatwaves, landslides and earthquakes: this summer, Japan really has seen it all, and images of the destruction caused have been beamed around the world.

While world-class infrastructure and high-tech warning systems means that the death toll and damage is generally lower in Japan than elsewhere, climate change is putting that to the test, experts say.

Moreover, citizens used to decades of natural disasters may be underestimating the risk posed by stronger climate change-related phenomena.

More than 220 died in floods in July, mainly because “less than 1 percent of people affected by local evacuation recommendations actually went to the shelters, thinking that there would not be a problem,” notes Jean-Francois Heimburger, an expert on natural disasters in the country.

“People tend to treat advisories too complacently based on their personal experiences,” said Kimio Takeya, visiting professor at Tohoku University, who also sits on a UN climate change body.

But in this era of climate change, personal experience is no longer a reliable guide.

“We are seeing rainfall that we have not seen before. Past experience does not help in this regard. It is also difficult to evacuate your home when rain falls at night,” he added.

‘Nowhere perfectly safe’

Nevertheless, analysts point out that Japan is still well-equipped to deal with such catastrophes, and death tolls are often surprisingly low.“Had these disasters happened in other nations, the damage would have been hugely worse, maybe 50 times had they happened in Europe or other parts of Asia,” said Takeya.

Until recently, Japan invested up to 7 percent of its national budget on disaster mitigation, which significantly improved its resilience, he added.

TODAY’S WORDS
今日單字

1. heatwave n.

熱浪 (re4 lang4)

2. landslide n.

土石流 (tu3 shi2 liu2)

3. infrastructure n.

基礎設施

(ji1 chu3 she4 shi1)

4. warning system phr.

預警系統

(yu4 jing3 xi4 tong3)

5. natural disaster phr.

自然災害

(zi4 ran2 zai1 hai4)


Only a handful of people died as a direct result of Thursday’s 6.6-magnitude earthquake on the northern island of Hokkaido. The overwhelming majority of casualties were residents of a few dozen dwellings hit by the landslide.

High-tech Japan has “weather forecasts that are more precise thanks to better satellites and new houses and buildings that are more resistant to shocks,” said Heimburger.

“Near the ocean, you face risks of a tsunami. Near rivers, you have flooding. Near mountains, you may have landslides,” Tadashi Suetsugi, a professor at the University of Yamanashi, said, adding that that the people in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas, “have just had to learn how to live with disasters.”

(AFP)

破紀錄的颱風、如聖經大洪水的洪災、熱浪、土石流和地震──日本在今年夏天,全都經歷過了,所造成的破壞景象已傳遍全世界。

專家表示,雖然日本有世界一流的基礎設施和高科技預警系統,使日本的天災死亡人數和損失通常較其他地區低,但氣候變遷正在考驗這一點。

此外,民眾基於過去數十年來處理自然災害的經驗,面對氣候變遷所造成的劇烈天氣,可能會低估其風險。

七月有超過兩百二十人死於洪水,主要原因是「可能受災而建議疏散的當地居民認為不會有問題,只有不到百分之一的人實際疏散到了避難所」,日本自然災害專家尚─方斯瓦‧漢伯格表示。

東北大學客座教授竹谷公男說,「面對勸導,人們容易過於自信,以自己的個人經驗為根據做出決定」。竹谷公男也是聯合國氣候變遷機構的成員。

但在這個氣候變遷的時代,個人經驗已不再是可靠的指南。。

「我們所看到的是前所未見的降雨量。就這點而言,過去的經驗並沒有什麼用。晚上下雨時也很難疏散住家」,他補充道。

「無處是安全之地」

然而,分析人士指出,日本仍有能力處理這樣的災難,而死亡人數往往低得驚人。「如果這些災難發生在其他國家,例如在歐洲或亞洲其他地區,損害將會非常嚴重,可能會是日本的五十倍」,竹谷公男說。

他補充說,直到最近,日本還將其國家預算的百分之七用於減災,這顯著提高了其防災能力。上週四北海道六點六級地震所直接造成的死亡人數,只有極少數。

絕大多數的傷亡是幾十戶土石流受災戶的居民。

漢伯格表示,由於日本的高科技,讓日本有「更好的衛星,使天氣預報更為精確,以及更耐震的新建房屋和建築物」。

「在靠海的地方,你有遇到海嘯的風險。在河流附近,你會碰到洪水。在山區附近,你可能會遇到土石流」,山梨大學教授末次忠司說。他並補充道,日本是世界上地震活動最活躍的地區之一,「他們必須學會如何與天災共存」。

(台北時報林俐凱編譯)

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